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about

“… reminiscent of the classic Ornette Coleman Quartet, albeit with a Middle Eastern flavor.” — Jazz Times

“A scintillating new album…the two leaders pursue the sort of brash polyphony once synonymous with Don Cherry and Ornette Coleman, and now open for sharply rigorous adaptation.” — New York Times

“A rewarding collection thick with ideas and inspiration” — LA Times

“A new grammar for composition and improvisation” — Dusted Magazine

Radif Suite is an important recording from trumpeter Amir ElSaffar and tenor saxophonist Hafez Modirzadeh: a cross-cultural exchange between the Iraqi maqam, the Persian dastgah, and American jazz. Both ElSaffar and Modirzadeh are of mixed heritage (Iraqi-American and Iranian-American, respectively) whose musical careers are dedicated to expressing their ancestral traditions within the jazz medium. ElSaffar has spent years traveling abroad seeking out masters who could impart to him the Iraqi maqam tradition. He released the highly acclaimed Two Rivers (Pi 24), his first major work joining maqam with contemporary improvised music in 2007. Modirzadeh had spent years under the guidance of Iranian master musician Mahmoud Zoufounoun and developed his own “chromodal” approach to intercultural musical practice, which allows for the co-existence of multiple traditions within one cohesive system. He is known among saxophonists for his masterful ability to traverse different musical temperaments. They are supported with superb sensitivity by renowned bassist Mark Dresser and master drummer, Alex Cline.

Comprised of two suites: "Radif-e Kayhan" by Modirzadeh, and "Copper Suite" by ElSaffar, the result is neither constrained by the western system of equal temperament nor the Middle Eastern single-tonic system, but allows each musician to explore music from a palette full of tonal possibilities. The music is also unbound by meter -- look at their scores and you immediately notice the lack of bar lines -- so rhythmic phrasing occurs with greater fluidity. In addition, both ElSaffar and Modirzadeh have developed new techniques on their respective instruments in order to play Arabic microtones and ornaments. By using alternate fingerings and masterful control of embouchure to manipulate pitch, they are able to break free of the boundaries of equal temperament into new tonal orientation. This results in striking new melodies and harmonies, unbound by tradition, that encompass the entire phenomena of sound.

credits

released March 15, 2010

Amir ElSaffar: trumpet; vocal
Hafez Modirzadeh: tenor saxophone
Mark Dresser: bass
Alex Cline: drums; gongs

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about

Amir ElSaffar New York, New York

Iraqi-American trumpeter, santurist, vocalist, and composer, ElSaffar uses Middle Eastern and American jazz to create new techniques to ornament that are idiomatic to Arabic music. He performs classical Iraqi maqam music, and is active in the US, Europe and the Middle East as a vocalist and santur player. His compositions use microtones from maqam music to uniquely approach harmony and melody. ... more

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