Over the course of three albums as Ghazal, Indian sitarist Shujaat Husain Khan and Iranian kamancheh master Kayhan Kalhor have explored the traits their native musical traditions share thanks to travelers along the legendary Asian trade route known as the Silk Road--among them microtonality and an emphasis on thematic improvisation. Their first two records were gorgeous and their interactions have often been amazingly intuitive, but their latest offering, Moon Rise Over the Silk Road (Shanachie), is the most seamless fusion yet. "Fire in My Heart" opens as a lengthy, percussion-free meditation, Khan and Kalhor empathetically shaping and elaborating on subtle melodic phrases, but after Khan softly sings a brief passage, Swapan Chaudhuri kicks in on the tabla, instantly raising the energy level and spurring the two virtuosos into a musical dialogue akin to Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie trading fours. "Pari Mahal" is a lighter, jaunty excursion based on an Indian folk melody; Khan's lithe, fleet solo is so lyrical you could drop it into a bluegrass tune. And on "Besh'no az Nay," Khan sings in Persian and tabla player Sandeep Das is joined by Pejman Hadadi on the Persian tombak, which creates subtle polyrhythms within the subdued but emotionally dense piece. For this date Khan and Kalhor will be joined by Das. Saturday, 7:30 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln; 773-728-6000. PETER MARGASAK
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Ian Tong.