30 January 2013

Saffron: Persian Indian American Improvisations

With the new Hobbit movie, no doubt scores of new Tolkien fans will attempt to speak Elvish... which, I suppose, springs from an admirable curiosity with different (okay, imaginary in this case) cultures. But why look to fiction when the real world provides language and culture every bit as intriguing?

The new album Dawning is about language on several levels. The lyrics -- based on the poetry of Rumi -- are in Farsi. But don't despair; the primary language here is music, in the dialect of sitar (Shujaat Khan), piano (Kevin Hayes), vocals (Katayoun Goudarzi), and sax (Tim Ries).

Introspective and poetic, the sound of Saffron springs from improvisational musical conversations, and unfolds with patience and elegance (the opening track expands over twenty minutes).

“When certain musicians gather, we speak a language, and there are no words,” says Khan. “We are conversing and we can feel each others' emotions changing, that it’s all gelling and coming together. It’s so beautiful and so unbelievable, being together with wonderful musicians and exchanging opinions musically. That’s the brilliant thing about music in general: you can be open to every possibility, and beautiful things can happen that way.”

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