Sorry for the short notice, but there are certain occasions that you just can NOT afford to miss. Yes, that applies to even us, spoiled residents of southern California, who are enticed with a new event each week. We are a privileged community to drink from this continuous stream of entertainment that temporarily satisfies our eagerness for all things Iranian, but tell me … If you woke up one morning to find that the ocean had come to you instead, running itself into your little stream, would you not run out to meet it and perhaps quench your ripened thirst?
Am I exaggerating? I suppose there is no standard way to gage how much a performance should affect us, but most agree that music can be powerful. An exceptional, LIVE, musical performance can therefore, be understandably stirring as was the case last night in San Diego, CA. Zarbang’s performance was special beyond the group members’ individual talents and their unique mastery of a variety of percussion, wind and string instruments. What made last night’s performance truly refreshing was the theme of the concert which was based on traditional Iranian “Zoorkhanehs” or houses of strength. The group was joined by Morshed Mehregan, one of the few Morsheds or guides adept in the ancient practice of Persian Martial Arts (Varzesh-e Baastaani), who has collaborated for the first time with a secular music group, offering vocals and drumming on the Zarb-e-Zoorkhane.
It is clear that men and women do not live parallel lives, nor does equality between the sexes exist. For the most part this is to women’s disadvantage— although a few example of the contrary also come to mind at the moment. Among the “perks” exclusively reserved for Iran’s men, the one I recall feeling the most jealousy towards was the “Zoorkhoonehs”. Everything about it appeals to me, from the percussion, to the Morshed singing live and guiding the exercise, to the camaraderie, respect, values and incredible physical endurance and strength, right down to the boteh jegheh designs on their work-out pants. I love the whole thing…Too bad I would never be allowed to set foot inside. Luckily, last night the voice of the “Zoorkhooneh”, like that distant ocean unexpectedly came up to meet me in San Diego and I got to experience a little bit of that magic from the edge of my seat.
After a great experience, the most natural impulse is to share it with friends, which explains why I find myself here. At the end of the night I found my breath caught in my chest and my heart was racing a mile a minute. All I could think of was that these men on stage should have their hands insured because they were not just mere ordinary human hands, but rather worthy instruments of their own. They simply blew me away and I’m sure they will blow you away also if you are lucky enough to see them perform live!!!
UPDATE: Zarbang will perform for 1-hour on Tuesday, May 27th at a Potluck Dance Party hosted by Banafsheh Sayyad. For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ecstatic Ritual in Santa Monica Date: Jan 8 – Jun 24 2008 TUES 7:30 – 9 PM 5/27 – 1 hr class followed by potluck dance party with the live music of ZARBANG (310)499-7100 Instructor: Banafsheh Sayyad Location: The Church in Ocean Park 235 Hill St. at corner of 2nd St. Santa Monica, CA 90405 Fee: $20 drop in ****
For my friends up in Canada, please welcome Zarbang to your towns on Friday, May 30th in Ottawa, Ontario; Saturday, May 31 in Montreal, Quebec; and lastly on Sunday, June 1 in Toronto, Ontario.
The individuals members included in this tour are:
Daf, Tombak, Dammam, Percussion
Behnam Valikhani Samani was born in 1967 in Tschahar 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 peformed with Zarbang and Karavane and leads the Ensemble Samani. His most recent performances with Dastan Ensemble was on tour in the US, Britain, Brazil and Canada in 2001.
Behnam Samani has performed in some distinguished festivals including the Music Festival 2001 in Sao Paolo, Persian Music Festival 2001 in Munich, Persian Music Festival in Sweden and Italy, Rhythm Stick Festival in London and Rhythm Festival DU Zurich .Over the last two years, he 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. Behnam Samani currently resides in Cologne, Germany.
Tombak and Daf Player
Considered the “finest Iranian percussionist in the West” (KPFA Radio and Rhythm Magazine), Pejman Hadadi began playing tombak at the age of ten with the masters of the instrument Asadollah Hejazi and Bahman Rajabi. In 1990, upon immigration to the United States, he began his professional career, performing and recording with ensembles of Persian classical music as well as Indian, Turkish and American musicians.
In 1995, Pejman Hadadi joined Dastan Ensemble, one of today’s leading “most-forward looking Persian music ensembles” (LA Weekly). With Dastan, he has performed in many important music festivals world-wide and toured extensively in the US, Europe and Iran. Over the years, he has also perfomed with some of the masters of Persian music including Hossein Alizadeh, Shahram Nazeri, Hossein Omoumi, Parisa, Ali Akbar Moradi and Ardeshir Kamkar both locally and on tour in the US and Europe. Since 1998, Hadadi has collaborated with Banafsheh Sayyad and been the resident composer and performer with the Persian dance group, Namah Ensemble.
Pejman Hadadi’s modern approach to the traditional Tombak lies in his ability to produce melodic patterns within rhythmic structures as well as in his experiments with creating complex variations on the basic sounds of Tombak. He also brings to Persian rhythm an Indian percussive sensibility that he has studied over the years. Hadadi has a deep interest in uncovering ancient Persian rhythms that were later adopted by Indian music and can be traced in their repertoire. The recipient of the prestigious Durfee Foundation Master Musician Award, Pejman Hadadi is the founder of the Neyreez World Percussion Academy in Sherman Oaks and Newport Beach in Southern California, where he teaches Tombak and Daf.
Javid Afsari Rad
Born in Isfahan, Iran, Javid Afsari Rad began studying the Santur and the traditional Persian Radif at the age of sixteen with Parviz Meshkatian and master musician Faramarz Puyvar. His studies led him to Norway, where he later graduated from the University of Oslo in the field of Musicology. Javid’s illustrious career includes solo performances in notable world music festivals in Bayreut, Germany, India, Brazil, South Africa and Holland as well as ensemble work with world known musicians, Pt. Hariprasad, Dr. L. Subramaniam and Chourasia among others. In Norway, where he has lived since 1986, Javid is known as an innovative performer and an ingenious composer. His highly acclaimed work in 2002 included the album COMBONATIONS featuring well known musicians from Iran, India, China, Morocco, Senegal, Gambia and Brazil and the album CARAVAN with musicians from Iran and India. In the same year, Javid conceived and composed the music for the live concert, ASIATIC CARAVAN featuring musicians and dancers from Iran, China and India, which was performed on tour in Norway. Javid has appeared with Zarbang in numerous prestigious festivals throughout Europe. Through his affiliation with a number of Norwegian Arts Organizations, Javid has composed soundtracks for film and theater.
Mehrdad Arabi began studying Tombak as a teenager with the venerable Morteza Ayan. His enthusiasm and unrelenting discipline quickly placed him at the top of his class and upon the discretion of his teacher he took up the instruction of other students alongside his own training. Upon Mr. Ayan’s immigration to Europe the training of all the students were placed in Arabi’s hands. In addition to teaching, he completed the Tombak notation of the particular technique practiced by Ayan and compiled and edited this body of work together with his own innovations in rhythm into three volumes of books. With the guidance of Master Tombak player Amir Nasser Eftetah who had a great influence upon him, Arabi began his ensemble work at the Center for Preservation of Music in Tehran and was later invited to join the Mowlana Ensemble with whom he performed extensively in Iran and abroad. He later collaborated with the Faramarz Puyvar Ensemble as well as numerous other ensembles including the Bidel Ensemble, the Bahar and the Zolfonoon Ensemble.
In 1996 the Borneo University of Art and the Ministry of Culture invited Arabi to Borneo for concerts and recordings. His work was received with great enthusiasm and he was awarded a medal of honor from the University. In recent years, Arabi has performed in more than 150 concerts in different countries including France, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Greece, Cypress, Spain, UK, Croatia, Turkey, Malaysia, Singapore and Canada with the aim of introducing the Persian cultural heritage to the world. In April of 2001, Arabi performed at the Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida that met with great acclaim from the press as well as the conductor of the Symphony Orchestra who presented him with a medal of honor on behalf of the orchestra. More recently Mehrdad Arabi has performed to enthusiastic crowds at the Hollywood Bowl; Armand Hammer Museum; Morgen Wixson Theater; and California Plaza as part of the Festival of Central Asia. He was a featured percussionist in the World Percussion Masters concert at the Electric Lodge and the Festival of Sacred Music at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. In addition to Tombak and Daf, Arabi is proficient in the Kemanche and Violin, which he began studying as a teenager with Mohammad Moghadassi, and later with Reza Rahimi Jafari. He studied the Radif of Saba with Moghadassi and the traditional Radif with Dovoud Ganjeie. He took up classical violin with Rubin Tomassian and music essentials with Mehdi Javanfar, an Orchestra Conductor in Toronto, Canada.
Arabi has participated in more than 20 recordings as a performer, composer and arranger some of which include Mehmaan-e To (Your Guest), Beyaad-e Gozashte (In Memory of the Past), Majnoon, Narges-e Mast (The Drunken Narcissus), Bahar-e Shiraz (The Spring in Shiraz), Concert-e Talar and Nassim-e Bahari (Spring Breeze). Arabi’s greatest honor has been performing and recording with two of the greatest masters of Persian music, Hassan Kasaie and Jalil Shahnaz. He is also very proud of the distinguished students he has trained who have won first place awards in music competitions across Iran, and appeared on the Iranian National Radio and Television. Mehrdad Arabi currently teaches tombak, daf, violin and kamanche at Neyreez World Music Academy in Sherman Oaks and Newport Beach, California.
Born in 1977 in Chahar Mahal, Bakhtiari, Iran, Reza Samani began studying the Tombak with his brother Behnam Samani at the age of eight and later became the student of D. Samani.
At twelve he picked up the Zorna and later the Ney-Anban and the Daf. In 1999 he traveled to Germany to collaborate on a project with the Ensemble Samani and from then he began his professional career and residency in Germany, where he pursued the study of music and world percussion. Reza has performed with Zarbang Ensemble and Ensemble Samani in numerous festivals and concerts throughout Europe. He teaches Tombak and Daf in Cologne, where he resides and conducts workshops throughout Germany.
Zarb-e- Zoorkhane, Vocals
The Tehran born Mehregan Gerami Haghighi known as Morshed Mehregan became interested in Varzeshe Baastaani or the Ancient Iranian Martial Arts at the age of 16. From very early on he was magnetically pulled towards becoming a Morshed or guide. In the Ancient Iranian Martial Arts, the Morshed recites, sings and plays the Zarb-Zoorkhane or drum, rousing up the participants and guiding them through their exercises for inner and outer development. Morshed Mehregan trained for one year with Master Mehdi Koreyi at the Pouryaye Vali Zoorkhane (Training Center for the Martial Arts) in Tehran and with his own persistent practice, he was able to attain advanced levels as a guide in terms of his musicianship. By joining Zarbang, Morshed Mehregan became the first Morshed to combine the Zoorkhane style of vocalization and percussive sound with other percussive music of Iran. He holds a degree in Physical Education, which he teaches alongside his practice and teaching at the Zoorkhane in Tehran, where he resides.