Music

shanbe-otagh

Spirits’ Lullaby by Dang Show

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Spirits’ Lullaby is a beautiful song and performance by Dang Show recorded live from a 2007 concert of theirs in Tehran. The lyrics are by Rumi (the 13th century Persian mystic and sufi) from his Shams collection. Dang Show does an amazing job here with a nice jazz arrangement that includes piano and saxophone. It’s truly a lullaby, 9 minutes of pure joy. Enjoy it.

Dang Show is a Persian band based in Iran founded by two brothers Taha Parsa and Reza Shaya in 2004. Their intent was a fresh interpretation of Iranian folk music with a fusion style music which incorporates jazz and creates More >

Mommad Reza Asrar

Asrar’s “Amoo Zanjeer Baaf”

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I vaguely recall a popular social game that children used to play in Iran, Amoo Zanjeer baaf (literally “uncle chain-knitter”). The game has lyrics that kids would sing:

عمو زنجیرباف، زنجیرم بافتی؟ – بله پشته کوه انداختی؟ – بله …

I don’t exactly remember how the game was played; and I wouldn’t be writing this piece had it not been for a beautiful song by the same name, Amoo Zanjeer Baaf, written, composed and performed by a young Iranian musician, Mohammad Reza Asrar, that I recently came across.

Amoo Zaneer Baaf in Asrar’s song is not a friend to the children. Quite the contrary, he’s an More >

Famous Persian scientists, scholars, ...

Iran & Iranians — a bit of distant history

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The extent of Persian Empire in Achaemenid era, via Wikipedia
Early History

Iranian cultures and arts are rich and diverse, and have their roots in the ancient civilizations that developed as early as the fourth millennium BCE — about 4,000 years before any theistic religion came to existence — across the Iranian plateau.

Cyrus Cylinder, via Wikipedia

Iran has a long and complex history. Cyrus the Great (~ 600 BC – 530 BC), king of Persia during Achaemenid dynasty and the founder of Persian empire, conquered much of the known civilizations and expanded the Persia which spread from More >

Azam Ali and Ramin Torkian, Yoshi's - Oakland, Sep. 2011

Niyaz, a blend of Sufi poetry & folk songs from Mid-East

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I had the opportunity to see the recent concert by Niyaz in the San Francisco Bay Area (at Yoshi’s Oakland in September), as part of their world tour. After performances in Oakland, LA and Vancouver, their tour went on to Tunisia, Turkey and Slovenia in October and they have concerts in NYC, Toronto and Philadelphia in November. For details on their upcoming performances see the event calendar.

I have seen Azam Ali perform since her pre-Niyaz days in late 1990s. Every time I’ve seen her, I have enjoyed her music more, and this last one was the best I’ve seen of her and of Niyaz. They More >

rana-farhan1s

Rana Farhan, blending Rumi and the Blues

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Rana Farhan, the New York based Iranian singer, along with her band, had a performance at Yoshi’s San Francisco, on October 2, 2011, that was quite well-received.

“I do not know how Rana manages to combine the classical Persian poetry with contemporary jazz and blues and make it sound so good but she does it,” said Sharareh, one of Rana Farhan’s fans at Yoshi’s in San Francisco.

As an Iranian American singer, Rana Farhan has found a way to sing the rich classical poetry of Iran with the underground sound of the America, jazz and blues. Her ability to fuse these two very distinct cultures and More >

Mehrnoosh

Mehrnoosh, a new voice in the Persian pop music

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I am generally not a huge fan of Persian pop music except some old timers like Dariush, Farhad (RIP), Googoosh, Haydeh (RIP), among few others, many of whom have been performing since before the 1979 revolution.

Among the newer pop singers I like the Iran-based Mohsen Chavoshi with melancholic love songs. The rapper, Shahin Najafi who is based in Europe, has got powerful social/political lyrics, though it is not really pop music.

And of course we have the SF Bay Area based Kiosk lead by Arash Sobhani, with his insightful social and political songs. But again in terms of style of music they More >

Shoorangiz Ensemble, June 2010

Meehan Ensemble: Fresh sounds in the Bay Area Persian music scene

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At the end of June 2010, shortly after my move to the San Francisco Bay Area, I had the opportunity to attend a Persian classical music concert by the local group Meehan Ensemble. I was up for a very pleasant surprise — a beautifully arranged performance with all original compositions. It was also a very a well-rehearsed and well-organized concert that I enjoyed very much.

Faraz Minooei, who along with Naser Sheikhzadegan, co-founded Meehan Ensemble in 2008, dedicated the concert to the great santur virtuoso Parviz Meshkatian, who passed away in 2009. Faraz also announced that the group would More >

Golshifteh Farahani

Golshifteh Farahani & her song Sokoot

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The beautiful and capable Iranian actress, Golshifteh Farahani, has appeared in movies such as

Golshifteh Farahani

Santoori (2007, in Persian) and “Body of Lies” (2008, co-starring Leonardo DiCaprio), following which the cleric-run Iranian government banned her from travel outside of Iran. Once she got out, she never returned and currently lives in Paris. Her more recent film is “About Elly” (2009) by the Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, which won several awards.

Golshifteh has also done some music work. She plays piano quite well and in fact played the piano in movie Santouri. She also did More >

An old Pink Floyd song covered green for Iran

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Last week I heard of an interesting new video music that emerged from Canada. The famous Pink Floyd song, Another Brick in the Wall, written by the great Roger Waters in 1979, is now reworked and covered by Blurred Vision, a band of two young Iranian brothers, Sepp and Solh in Toronto. The famous line in the original song, “Hey. teacher, leave us kids alone” is replaced with “Hey, ayatollah, leave those kids alone”. The cover is put to quite a telling video that shows a mullah and the security forces chasing after and beating the young protesters in Iran. The video is directed by the Iranian More >

Shajarian with Shahnaz Ensemble, LA, May 2010

Shajarian, with new sounds & a touch of green

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Shajarian & Persian traditional music

The legendary Iranian vocalist and composer, ostad (maestro) Mohammad Reza Shajarian has been a prominent name in the Persian traditional music scene since early 1960s. He is widely acknowledged as one of the best and most popular among Iranians. He has also received international awards and recognition, including UNESCO Golden Picasso Medal (1999) and Mozart medal (2006), and two Grammy Best World Music nominations (2004 and 2006).

As a child I remember my mom listening to him and watching his performances in TV. But not having any musical training nor More >

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