Artist Profiles: Bushehri Traditional Music Ensemble

Bushehri Traditional Music Ensemble


Saeid Shanbehzadeh leads the Bushehri Traditional Music Ensemble. The group provides a rare insight into the fascinating music and dance traditions of the Persian Gulf region of southern Iran.

Music from Bushehr reflects its long and varied history during which it has changed from a quiet fishing village to a war zone to international trading center and back again repeatedly. Over time, immigrants to the city have included Arabs, Indians, Africans, Armenians and Jews, who have been trading in cloth, metals, spices, indigo, tea, rice, sugar, pottery, porcelain, and wood for shipbuilding.

Located along the northeast coast of the Persian Gulf, the city of Bushehr also shares in the region’s long history of harvesting the sea, including the pearl diving which is known to have been practiced there since before 2000 BC.

Fishermen’s songs, called naymeh or naghmeh, describe the courage of sailors and the lives of saints, or entertain with humorous lyrics. Dancelike instrumental music called bandari (from the harbors) is thought to represent the city’s oldest instrumental musical form. Improvised songs of humor and satire, called yasl-khani, accompany work with the help of rhythmic hand-clapping.

Among the region’s musical instruments presented at the festival will be the ney-anbon (earliest-known bagpipes, originating thousands of years ago in Mesopotamia), ney-hindi (indian flute), damman-ishkun (double-headed bass drum), boogh (ram’s horn trumpet) and senj (metal castanets). In a dance known as maulidi, performed around the birthday of the prophet Mohammed (s.a.w.), dancers sit in a circle and move their upper torsos in rhythm, gradually entering into a state of trance.

Saeid has studied with the greatest Bushehri masters since he was a child and today he is a master of the ney-anbon, dammam and traditional dance.

His ethnomusicological research has allowed him to collect an immense repertory of Bushehri music in all its forms.

Hour Saeid lives in Paris, where he works with the Cie Montalvo/Hervieu, National choreographic center of Créteil and Val de Marls, for the creation 2002 “Babelle Heureuse.


Artist Profiles: Behnam Samani

Behnam Samani

Behnam Samani was born in 1967 in Tschaher Mahai Bakhtiari in Iran. He studied tombak for 13 years with D. Mohebi in Isfahan. He has been performing in Europe since 1987 and has collaborated with some of the most celebrated iranian musicians including F. Paewar, M. Zarief and R. Badie. He has also worked with international artists such as H. Charasia, D. Schneider and H. Mitschke on several theatre and music projects. Behnam Samani has performed with Zarbang and Karavane and leads the Ensemble Samani.

Behnam Samani has performed in some distinguished festivals including the Music Festival in Sao Paolo, Persian Music Festival in Munich, Persian Music Festival in Sweden and Italy, Rhythm Stick Festival in London and Rhythm Festival DU Zurich and has played in such prestigious concert halls as the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, Gasteig in Munich and Rasa in Utrecht. He has performed for the SWF and WDR Radio Stations and has made numerous recordings and television appearances.


Iranian Percussions. Tombak Tabla Dajere (Playasound)


New York Gypsy Festival Announces 2018 Lineup

The 14th Annual NY Gypsy Festival will take place September 6 to October 5, 2018. The international lineup includes: Dobranotch (Russia), Lemon Bucket Orkestra (Canada), Original Quartet by Javier Limon, NY Gypsy All-Stars, Barbara Martinez, Romashka, Underground Horns, and Newpoli.

The concefts will take place at DROM, 85 Avenue A New York, NY 10009. Phone: (212) 777-1157.

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Artist Profiles: Krakatau

Founded in Bandung, West Java (Indonesia) in 1985, they made their international debut at the Yamaha Bands Explosion in Tokyo, Japan.

Their music is very distinctive as it uses an ancient Gamelan tonal system called s’lendro, found in Karawitan traditional music of Sunda, Java and Bali. Juxtaposed upon this, Krakatau adapts western diatonic elements which is energized by modern feels of jazz, rock and pop fused with various ethnic rhythms of Indonesian music.

Dwiki Dharmawan plays keyboards and synthesizers and is also one of the founding members of Krakatau; he was classically trained at a young age and winner of the Grand Prix in Japan in 1985. He is also conductor and composer of the Indonesian Art Orchestra, director of the Farabi Music Educational Centre in Jakarta and Chairman of Jakarta World Music Festival 2003.

Pra Budidharma graduated from Seattle, USA and plays guitar and bass while working as a producer specializing in recordings for West Javanese traditional music.

Main singer and dynamo of the group, Trie Utami, has won awards in Romania and Kuala Lumpur.

Zainal Arifin uses bonangs and sarons of the gamelan family as well as many other percussion instruments.

Adhe Rudhiana and Gilang Ramadhan handles the gendangs and percussion while Yoyon Dharsono plays virtually any instrument handed to him.

One of them is the Sundanese tarompet, a double reed instrument which is a more brittle version of a clarinet. It is commonly associated with the traditional martial art known as pencak silat.

Another is the suling or bamboo flute that comes in different lengths, as well as the bangsing which is more popular in the city of Cirebon.


Krakatau (1986)
Krakatau (1987)
Kembali Satu (Bulletin Records, 1990)
Let There Be Life (1992)
Mystical Mist (Aquarius, 1994)
Magical Match (2000)
Rhythms Of Reformation – Percussion Pieces By Krakatau (Musikita, 2005)
2 Worlds (Musikita, 2006)
Chapter One album (DSS Records, 2016)

Indonesia Asi


Artist Profiles: Sambasunda


Samba Sunda is an Indonesian ensemble. The lineup varies from quintet to a 17-piece ensemble, bringing together a pan-Indonesian array of instruments and influences to create a new style Gamelan orchestra, throwing together anything from thundering percussion to shimmering sweet vocals with inimitable gusto. The classic sounds and shapes of the traditional instruments evoke not only the past but also the bustling, urban energy of Bandung today.

Sambasunda come from Bandung, the capital and cultural center of Western Java, more commonly known as Sunda. The Sundanese are the second largest ethnic group in Indonesia with a unique language and culture.

The group updates the lilting sounds of Sundanese gamelan degung and bamboo gamelan by adding elements of Jakarta’s gambang kromong, Sunda’s jaipong, Balinese kebyar and the Brazilian rhythm of samba.

The classic sounds of the traditional instruments evoke not only the past but also the bustling, urban energy of Bandung today, featuring a full sound palette from the deep resonance of the mighty gongs to the silvery eloquence of the bamboo flute. The result is a mesmerizing mix that manages, strangely, to be both relentlessly exciting and passively tranquil.

Sambasunda are led by composer and multi-instrumentalist Ismet Ruchimat, who started his career in 1989 in Gugum Gumbira’s famous Jugala Orchestra and has appeared on a number of international recording projects: with Spanish percussionist Vidal Paz (“Sunda-Africa”, Globestyle); Indian flutist, Hariprasad Chaurasia (“Moon Magic”, BMG India); the Malagasy group Tarika (“Soul Makassar”, Sakay); and on the Kartini label with Sabah Habas Mustapha & the Jugala Allstars (“Jalan Kopo” and “So La Li”).


Rahwana’s Cry (Network)
Java (Riverboat)
Sunda Music (Rice)


Artist Profiles: Saratus Persen

Saratus Persen

Saratus Persen was formed in 2001. “We combine a traditional music instruments such as Balinese gamelan (kantil & pamade), Sundanese flute & drum, African jembe, with modern music instruments, like drum set, electric bass, trombone, saxophone, trumpet, violin, bongo, rototom, timbales, etc.”

Musicians: Togar (Vocal, Kantil 1), Dodi (Kantil 2), Ricky (Violin, Kantil 2), Muklis (Pamade 1), Rosoul (Pamade 2), Saddam (Trumpet 1, Saxophone), Idam (Trumpet 2), Iwenk (Suling, jembe, Percussion), Asep (Bass), Diah (Trombone), Iman (Kendang), Ully (Drum), Ganjar (Timbales, Percussion)


Sundanese In Bali
Sound Of Orang Kampung


Artist Profiles: Celtic Fiddle Festival

an early lineup of Celtic Fiddle Festival

Celtic Fiddle Festival was initially Kevin Burke, Johnny Cunningham, Christian LeMaître, and Soig Siberil, representing Ireland, Scotland and Brittany. Burke, Cunningham and LeMaître were three of the finest fiddlers in the Celtic world, together with Brittany’s hottest guitarist, Soïg Sibéril, as accompanist .

In 1996 a completely new group was formed under the name Celtic Fiddle Festival II. The new group was formed by Martin Hayes (Ireland), Natalie MacMaster (Cape Breton, Canada) and Brian McNeill (Scotland), with guitarists Dennis Cahill and Tony McManus.

The original line-up of Kevin Burke, Johnny Cunningham, and Christian LeMaître came back in the year 2000. The onstage camaraderie of these three attracted and delighted leagues of new fans all over Europe and the USA, from Folk to Classical enthusiasts. Cunningham performed the most incredible feats of digital acrobatics on his fiddle whilst at the same time delighting audiences with his huge sense of fun. Burke’s dryer sense of humor was nevertheless relentless as he feeds the audience a feast of Irish delicacies with his fluid finger work, and Le Maître’s seductive Breton dance tunes, both rhythmic and beautiful were backed delightfully by Sibéril.

After the unexpected passing of founding member Scottish fiddler Johnny Cunningham, in December 2003, fiddlers Kevin Burke (Ireland) and Christian Lemaitre (Brittany) along with guitarist Ged Foley were left with an unimaginable hole to fill in their hearts and in their lineup. The band made the difficult decision to play on, and invited the young French-Canadian fiddler Andre Brunet (of La Bottine Souriante) to join them. “The news of Johnny’s death was heartbreakingly sad and it did not seem possible that the Celtic Fiddle Festival could continue without him,” said founding member Kevin Burke. “Yet once the initial pain and sadness subsided a little, we started to think that Johnny would have been horrified at the idea of us calling it quits! After much soul searching we decided to ask Andre if he would like to join us on the upcoming tour.

On tour, Brunet’s lively Quebecois dance tunes and contagious enthusiasm lifted both tempos and spirits. At the end of a tour in March 2004, the group recorded three shows in Portland, Oregon. The result was a new CD, Play On (Green Linnet GLCD 1230), the fourth album by Celtic Fiddle Festival. It is dedicated to the memory of Johnny.

“Once the tour got under way,” Burke continues. “It became quickly evident that inviting Andre along was an inspired decision. There was great excitement in the music, we enjoyed each others playing immensely and it was evident from the audience response that they too felt they were witnessing something special.

Celtic Fiddle Festival in 2014


Celtic Fiddle Festival (Green Linnet, 1993)
Celtic Fiddle Festival: Encore (Green Linnet, 1998)
Rendezvous (Green Linnet, 2001)
Play on (2005)
Équinoxe (2008)
Live in Brittany – 20th Anniversary Concert (2013)
Storm In A Teacup (Loftus Music, 2016)


Artist Profiles: Ghazal Ensemble

Ghazal Ensemble

Created and led by Kayhan Kalhor and Shujaat Husain Khan, the Ghazal Ensemble has created an Indo-Persian fusion which blends two distinctive classical musics: Persian (Iranian) and Hindustani (North Indian). Intertwined for centuries in Northern India, these musics share some formal elements which allow for an exquisite and harmonious dialogue between the two traditions.

Shujaat Husain Khan, son and disciple of master sitarist Ustad Vilayat Khan, is one of the great artists of North Indian classical music today. (Both father and son played to a full house at the Flint Center as part of the Classical Music of India concert presented by Arts & Lectures last season). A sitar virtuoso, Khan is also the group’s vocalist, blending his gentle baritone with the melodic lines of the instruments.

Kayhan Kalhor, one of the most important Iranian musicians of his generation, is a virtuoso of the kamancheh and setar. Improvisation lies at the heart of both Indian and Persian classical music. According to Kalhor, “The music that we play together reflects the improvisatory styles of our cultures. This means taking a small idea or melodic form or phrase and developing it into something much larger, beyond its primary character.”

The Persian and Indian traditions are, in a sense, musical cousins. In fact, there is a connection that goes beyond the notes themselves: Several centuries of Moghul rule in northern India left a strong imprint on Hindustani music: a result of the mysticism, poetry, and musical subtleties of the Persian language and culture. The name Ghazal reflects that link: in the Persian tradition, a ghazal is a specific genre of poetry, characterized by an unusual blend of ecstatic spirituality and earthy desires. In India, ghazal has evolved into a form of semi-classical music that remains popular to this day, and usually takes the form of a love ballad.


Ghazal: Lost Songs of the Silk Road (Shanachie, 1997)
As Night Falls on the Silk Road (Shanachie, 1998)
Moon Rise Over the Silk Road (Shanachie, 2000)
The Rain (ECM, 2003)


Artist Profiles: Kabul Workshop

Kabul Workshop

Heavily influenced by Afghan and Indian music, the electro-world of Kabul Workshop was a workshop of musical research where the resulting melodies were a direct expression of the state of mind of their creators; a bridge between their different cultures. Franceso Russo and Khaled Arman met in 1998. The intellectual and spiritual complicity that united them nourished their artistic collaboration. Both musicians came from a classical background. Khaled Arman is an Afghan musician and Francesco Russo is from Naples (Italy). Their artistic journey, their curiosity nourished their Kabul Workshop compositions, electronic extension of the musicians’ projects.

Composers: Francesco Russo: electronic, piano; Khaled Arman: rubab, Afghan strings

Musicians: Massoud Raonaq (born in Kabul, Afghanistan): voices and harmonium; Francesco Russo (born in Naples, Italy): keyboards, piano, mix, sound structures; Ikram Khan (born in Jaipur, India): Sarangi; Mostafa Benhmad (born in Meknes, Morocco): ud and violin




Artist Profiles: Ali Akbar Moradi

Ali Akbar Moradi

Ali Akbar Moradi, from Kermanshah is the extraordinary tanbur player from Kurdistan of Iran. He has a unique style that sets him apart from other players of this ancient instrument. He’s a leading composer, teacher and a consummate performer of the sacred Kurdish music of Iran.

He has won many awards including two honorary diplomas at major music festivals in Iran. Moradi has performed as a soloist and with ensembles in festivals throughout the world.


Fire of Passion, Kurdish Tanbur Music of Iran (1999)
Kurdaneh (2001)
Whisper (Kereshme, 2001)
Kurdish Music from Iran (Naive, 2002)
In The Mirror Of The Sky, with Kayhan Kalhor (World Village, 2004)
Goblet of Eternal Light (Traditional Crossroads, 2012)


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