+ Erdal Erzincan, Ulas Özdemir
Nach seinem Grammy-nominierten Album The Rain mit der Gruppe Ghazal, präsentiert Kamanchehspieler Kayan Kalhor zusammen mit Erdal Erzincan (Baglama) und Ulas Ízdemit (Divan Baglama) sein neues Album The Wind. The Wind ist ein ruhiges, luftiges und doch durchdringendes Album, das in den folkloristischen und klassischen Spielweisen Persiens und der Türkei fußt.
After “The Rain”, his Grammy-nominated album with the group Ghazal, comes “The Wind”, a documentation of Kayhan Kalhor’s first encounter with Erdal Erzincan. It presents gripping music, airborne music indeed, pervasive, penetrating, propelled into new spaces by the relentless, searching energies of its protagonists. Yet it is also music firmly anchored in the folk and classical traditions of Persia and Turkey.
Iranian kamancheh virtuoso Kalhor does not undertake his transcultural projects lightly. Ghazal, the Persian-Indian ‘synthesis’ group which he initiated with sitarist Shujaat Husain Khan followed some fifteen years of dialogue with North Indian musicians, in search of the right partner.
“Because I come from a musical background which is widely based on improvisation, I really like to explore this element with players from different yet related traditions, to see what we can discover together. I’m testing the water – putting one foot to the left, so to speak, in Turkey. And one foot to the right, in India. I’m between them. Geographically, physically, musically. And I’m trying to understand our differences. What is the difference between Shujaat and Erdal? Which is the bigger gap? And where will this lead?”
Kayhan began his association with Turkish baglama master Erdal Erzincan by making several research trips, in consecutive years, to Istanbul, collecting material, looking for pieces that he and Erdal might play together. He was accompanied on his journeys by musicologist / player Ulaş Özdemir who also served as translator and eventually took a supporting role in the Kalhor / Erzincan collaboration. On “The Wind”, Ulaş plays the divan baglama, or bass saz, providing a ground over which the two master musicians may fly.
In Turkey, Erdal Erzincan is often considered the most outstanding exponent of the Anatolian tradition. He has worked extensively with baglama legend Arif Sag and performed with him around the world. Several of his own recordings have been best-sellers in Turkey.
He is an exceptional baglama (saz) player working out of a tradition that can be traced back to the days of the travelling Sufi poets, whose playing once provided a context for spiritual meditations.
Kayhan Kalhor: “I appreciated at once that Erdal is a very good musician, a very serious baglama player – but he is still, normally, working within the demands of Turkish music today. This means songs and maybe a minute of playing in free time, and then another song. In Turkey, if you have a CD the market says you need 14 tracks and you have to have singing. I didn’t ask Erdal to sing. I explained to him, ‘I’m looking for something that departs from nothing and then goes into developing material and then goes into something else really improvised. Maybe we’ll go for a climax in terms of melody and energy and keep it there…And I’m looking at this for a form for maybe an hour of music.’ And he said, ‘I haven’t done that before, but I would like to do this.’ And he showed that he was indeed very much able to do this, and many of the things he played surprised and delighted me.
What I’m trying to do in these kind of projects – whether with Shujaat or, now, with Erdal is to learn the music and experience the world through their eyes. And I am not trying to change what they do so much as offer them another vision of it. Musical Turkey, for instance, is very much based on composed songs. Improvisation of the kind that Erdal and I undertake, developing material, is something that has been forgotten...”
Kayhan Kalhor recorded “The Wind” in Istanbul at the end of 2004 and mixed it, together with ECM producer Manfred Eicher at Oslo’s Rainbow Studio in 2006.
Kayhan Kalhor was born in Tehran in 1963. At the age of seven he began his music studies under Master Ahmad Mohajer. A child prodigy on the kamancheh, he was invited at the age of thirteen to work in the Iranian National Radio and Television Orchestra, where he performed for five years.
At seventeen, Kalhor began working with the Shayda Ensemble of the Chavosh Cultural Centre, the most prestigious arts organisation at the time in Iran. While performing with Shayda, he continued studying the Iranian classical repertoire (radif) with different masters. He also absorbed regional repertoires and styles in the course of his travels in Iran, including those of Khorasan in the northeast and Kurdistan in the west.
Kalhor studied Western classical music in Rome and at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. He has composed works for Iran's most renowned vocalists, including Mohammad Reza Shajarian and Shahram Nazeri, and also performed with Iran's greatest masters, including Faramarz Payvar and Hossein Alizadeh. In 1991 he co-founded Dastan, the renowned Persian classical music ensemble, and in 1997 he and Shujaat Khan launched Ghazal.
Erdal Erzincan was born in Erzumrum in 1971, and at an early age became deeply interested in the region’s folk music. Introduced to the baglama, he moved to Istanbul in 1985 to take lessons at the Arif Sag Music School. While studying at the Istanbul Technical University in the late 1980s he began to research finger-picking approaches to playing the baglama (as opposed to the more common plectrum style).
His first solo album “Tore” was released in 1994, the first of many successful discs, opening the way also for international performances. In 1996 he and Arif Sag collaborated with the Köln Philharmonic, an experiment continued by Erzincan in 2004 with the Ambassade Symphony Orchester Wien, an ensemble of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. Erdal Erzincan teaches at a music school that carries his name and also leads a Baglama Orchestra comprised of 25 of his students.
All of Kalhor’s music crosses national and traditional boundaries in pursuit of transcendence and beauty, wherever it’s to be found. Kalhor’s partner on the disc The Wind is Erdal Erzincan, a Turkish baglama player. The disc’s twelve untitled tracks are all improvised collaborations between the two men … The results are a thrilling and beautiful example of duo improvisation in a thoroughly non-Western tradition.
Phil Freeman, Global Rhythm
After Iranian kamancheh virtuoso Kayhan Kalhor and his group Ghazal’s Grammy-nominated album, The Rain, the elemental tip continues with what is a glorious, searching, mesmerising follow-up. … Here the Turkish baglama master Erdal Erzincan assists in demonstrating the sublime results that come with total musical empathy and infinite amounts of patience. This, then, is improvised music, which takes its cue from the folk and classical traditions of Persia and leaves the strict compositions of much of the Turkish tradition behind. The duo’s gorgeous, free-form arabesques explore a common musical language, undergo what is a veritable airborne voyage of discovery. We eagerly await Kalhor’s next instalment – The Sun?
Jane Cornwell, Jazzwise
Stark, melancholy and highly atmospheric, this is Eastern experimental music of a very high order.
Mark Hudson, Daily Telegraph
It’s a uniquely challenging project: Iranian music emphasizes rigorous improvisation, using only the slightest compositional framework, while Turkish music is much more structured, with solo passages restricted to succinct bursts at designated moments. The mournful songs on The Wind are spontaneous elaborations on traditional material from both Iran and Turkey, and the interplay is astonishing. Kalhor sets long, beautifully vocal-like microtonal lines alongside Erzincan’s alternately terse and liquid single-note runs, and their patient give-and-take flows as naturally as water.
Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader
Les musiciens prennent prétexte de leurs traditions pour improviser une longue suite en douze parties, entre élans communicatifs et instants méditatifs. Soit la formule alchimique du jazz, dans son assertion la plus spirituelle.
Jacques Denis, Jazzman
Nach seinem persisch-indischen Projekt Ghazal hat der Kamancheh-Experte Kayhan Kalhor ein neues Feld aufgetan, in dem er seine musikalischen Experimente mit verwandten Kulturen fortsetzt. ... Die Berufung auf alte Traditionen ist allerdings alles andere als eine Zwangsjacke, denn erklärtermaßen und überaus spannend nachvollziehbar nutzt das Trio klassische Themen zu gemeinsamer Improvisation. Özdemirs behutsame Basslinien liefern dabei den anderen Instrumenten das Fundament für melodische Höhenflüge von ergreifender Schönheit und Eleganz.
Werner Griff, Jazzthing
Dank der Bass-Saz-Unterstützung von Ulas Özdemir haben Kahlor & Erzincan eine spirituelle wie aufregende Abenteuerroute eingeschlagen, die sich als authentisch urtümlich und mitreißend vielseitig entpuppt hat. The Wind heißt die zwölfteilige Suite, in der die Rhythmen bis ins Narkotische hinein pulsieren, arabeske Pirouetten gedreht und anatolische Schluchzer und Seufzer ausgekostet werden. Und dies mit einer verblüffenden Meisterschaft, die einem das scheinbar so Exotische vertraut vorkommen lässt und dennoch die nötige Distanz bewahrt.
Guido Fischer, Jazzthetik