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Hafez Modirzadeh: In Convergence Liberation

Karl Ackermann By

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Multi-reed player and composer Hafez Modirzadeh has created a sweeping global experience with In Convergence Liberation; a further examination of the cross-cultural influences explored on Post-Chromodal Out (PI Recordings, 2012). The earlier recording incorporated elements of multi-regional modalism and chromatics, and these compositional techniques are made even more textural with a significantly deeper line up of players. Modirzadeh—playing five reed instruments plus percussion—string quartet ETHEL, two vocalists and the returning trumpeter Amir ElSaffar join masters of Persian string and percussion instruments to produce a unique and complex tapestry of sounds.

Modirzadeh has written extensively on ethnomusicology and in particular on Iranian classical music as a jumping-off point for alternative musical development. Not surprisingly there's a fairly cerebral foundation to In Convergence Liberation. A Fulbright scholar and Professor, Modirzadeh uses this music to express theories of physical and spiritual balance. An academic understanding of these principles, however, is not at all necessary to appreciating Modirzadeh's compositions. This is effective story telling as a unit or in the three suites and stand-alone pieces that make up the album.

Prescribed structures, harmonic nuance and improvisation are all attributes that share Modirzadeh's attention in composing. "La Angustia de los Amantes" opens the album with the plaintive cry of Modirzadeh's tenor and Mili Berejo's emotional vocal in Spanish. The initial pace is unhurried and by the time the string quartet and ElSaffar join in there is a spontaneous and ongoing coordination of counterpoints that remarkably become an extension of the original theme. Contrasting with the Spanish influence of the first piece, the three-song suite "Karna Passages" is an amalgam of Persian and modern jazz elements augmented by regional and homemade instruments. Another suite, the six-part "Sor Juana" combines features of both the Persian and Andalucian Spanish influences linked together by a feminist theme. Like many of the pieces on In Convergence Liberation odd time signatures and shifting themes take on a life of their own.

In Convergence Liberation is a group effort where even Modirzadeh or ElSaffar's more raucous solos appear as part of a broader energetic field. As the title would imply, this album is about individual freedom within a collective but beyond that type of analysis it is an affective and lyrical presentation of ideas. As a composer, Modirzadeh's approach seems like one that could be weighed down by ambition but instead, it is an inspired, thought provoking collection that is well worth experiencing.

Track Listing: La Angustia de los Amantes; Tetraspheres; Karna Passages; Las Orillas del Mar; Number That Moves; Suite Compost; Sor Juana.

Personnel: Hafez Modirzadeh: multiple reed instruments; Amir ElSaffar: trumpet, voice; Mili Bermejo: voice; Faraz Minooei: santur; Amir Abbas Etemadzadeh: percussion; ETHEL String Quartet: Mary Rowell: violin; Cornelius Dufallo: violin; Ralph Farris: viola; Dorothy Lawson: cello.

Title: In Convergence Liberation | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Pi Recordings

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