405

Amir ElSaffar / Hafez Modirzadeh: Radif Suite

By

Sign in to view read count
This is an illuminating meeting between musicians who share similar cultural background and creative directions. Trumpeter Amir ElSaffar is an Iraqi-American whose work has fused elements of jazz and the maqam music of Iraq. His CD-length suite from 2007, Two Rivers, was a triumph of synthesis and vision. Tenor saxophonist Hafez Modirzadeh is an older Iranian-American who has worked with jazz forms and Persian dastgah to develop his own tonal system that he dubs "chromodal," suggesting perhaps the "harmolodics" of Ornette Coleman, with whom Modirzadeh has played.

Working from traditions that include modal improvisation and untempered, microtonal pitches, the co-leaders present two extended suites here, "Radif-e Kayhan" by Modirzadeh and "Copper Suite" by ElSaffar, performed with the empathetic accompaniment of bassist Mark Dresser, whose bass will suddenly rise up to sing with the horns, and drummer Alex Cline, who can move from free jazz polyrhythms to ceremonial invocation to luminous cymbal washes that add a sense of timeless, lustrous reflection. Each suite moves through a sequence of melodies with group and solo improvisations and ever-changing moods. They're often executed with a rhythmic verve that combines a loose expressiveness with almost telepathic precision, invoking not only the early Coleman quartets, but more precisely Don Cherry's brilliant suites of the mid-'60s like "Complete Communion" and "Symphony for Improvisers." There are episodes of bouncing free-bop, elegiac ballads and muezzin-like calls to prayer. There's a musical language developing here with both tonal and collective dimensions.

As impressive as ElSaffar and Modirzadeh are as soloists, it's the collocations that are most meaningful, achieving rare emotional impact as trumpet and tenor rise together to match a precise microtonal pitch or dovetail their lines in moments of collective flurry. What stands out most is the emotional depth: on ElSaffar's "Doves over Zion," the trio of trumpet, tenor and bass manage to evoke both longing and the moment of apparent union.

Track Listing: Radif-E Kayhan: Facet One;Facet Two; Facets Three/Four; Facets Five/Six; Facets Seven/Eight; Facet Nine; Facet Ten; Facets Eleven/Twelve; Copper Suite:Introduction: Copper Refraction; Post-Idiomatic Blues/Cells A; Doves Over Zion (Dream of the Beloved)/Duet Interlude;Uganda/Trio Interlude; Bird of Prey; Awj/Ancestral Memory; Quintuplets/Triptych/Bass Solo; All Said and Done/Sirens/Reverence.

Personnel: Amir ElSaffar: trumpet, voice; Hafez Modirzadeh: tenor saxophone; Mark Dresser: bass; Alex Cline: drums.

Title: Radif Suite | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Pi Recordings


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Study of Touch CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Gledalec CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Flux Reflux CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Christmas With Champian CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "Apocalypse Live" CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse Live
by Martin Longley
Published: July 13, 2017
Read "VEIN plays Ravel" CD/LP/Track Review VEIN plays Ravel
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 13, 2017
Read "The Big Wig" CD/LP/Track Review The Big Wig
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 24, 2017
Read "Mission Cimbalom" CD/LP/Track Review Mission Cimbalom
by Geannine Reid
Published: September 7, 2017
Read "Pocono Git-Down" CD/LP/Track Review Pocono Git-Down
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 19, 2017
Read "Fun with Notes" CD/LP/Track Review Fun with Notes
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 10, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.