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«Same Self, Same Silence»

«Same Self, Same Silence» is an inspiring and moving collaboration between the Iranian lute master Hossein Alizâdeh and the Dutch jazz Rembrandt Trio led by pianist Rembrandt Frerichs and featuring bass player Tony Overwater and percussionist Vinsent Planjer. This is the second collaboration of this trio with an Iranian master, following «It’s Still Autumn» with kamancheh master Kayhan Kalhor (Kepera, 2019). «Same Self, Same Silence» is titled after a phrase from the poem «Hallaj» by Iranian poet Mohammed Reza Shafiei Kadkani, referring to the 10th-century Sufi mystic Mansur al-Hallaj, who was sentenced to death for his dedication to his personal truth and is about always voicing one’s conviction and not remaining silent for the sake of personal safety.

Alizâdeh is known as an innovative master who has expanded the possibilities of what is thinkable within the realms of the Persian musical landscape, reminiscent of Béla Bartók in his day. He and the Rembrandt Trio first met in 2016 and performed together for the first time that same year at the November Music festival in ’s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands. «Same Self, Same Silence» was recorded in December 2017 and is based on traditional Iranian folk songs and melodies that Alizâdeh collected in his travels to his country’s most remote corners.

But «Same Self, Same Silence» is also unique for its choice of instrumentation that enables to suggest an untimely meeting ground that connects Persian classical and folk music with European baroque music and jazz. Alizâdeh is the leading master of the Persian lutes: tar and setar, but here he plays the custom-made, hybrid shurangiz, an instrument built to his own specifications that serve as a midpoint between the two lutes. Frerichs plays a fortepiano, similar to Mozart’s own instrument from 1790 (once exported to ancient Persia by Napoleon Bonaparte), that allows him to tune the strings in quarter-tones and sound like a Persian hammered santur, as well as the antique harmonium, bridging the gap between Europe and the Indian subcontinent. Overwater’s plays on a 16th-century violone, a bass viol with six strings, extra frets added to allow for the quarter-tones, and lighter timbre. Planjer’s percussion – the whisper kit – is his own set of old and new drums and percussion from across the globe, imitating the sound of the Persian tombak.

«Same Self, Same Silence» explores the Nava, one of the seven principle modal systems – dastgāhs – in Persian classical music, known for its serenity and meditative qualities. Each dastgāh is defined by a particular set of notes, so each has its own distinct emotional color and personality, and most of the pieces are based on gushehs, short canonical melodic fragments upon which ideas can take flight and leave enough room for improvisation. This musical journey flows naturally as if it «Same Self, Same Silence» is a spiritual, purifying ritual, that patiently builds its ecstatic, cathartic climaxes. Both Alizâdeh and the Rembrandt Trio feel at home in this meeting, happy to bridge and resonate the ancient with the modern, and the East with the West, find a close and peaceful common ground and sculpt exciting and promising new musical horizons. «It doesn’t matter what language we speak because when speaking ends, our common language begins, which is music», concluded Alizâdeh.

A remarkable masterpiece.

Eyal Hareuveni 

Hossein Alizâdeh (shurangiz) Rembrandt Frerichs (fortep, harmon), Tony Overwater (violone), Vinsent Planjer (whisper kit)

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