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. Modirzadehplaying five reed instruments plus percussionstring 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)Yearnings, Churnings, Mournings; Las Orillas Prelude; Las Orillas del Mar; Number That Moves; (Suite Compost)Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Oxygen, Carbon; (Sor Juana)Sin Razon, Resistencia, Por Pecar, Templada, Libertades, Love What You Create.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.