Kayhan Kalhor & Erdal Erzincan | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Kayhan Kalhor & Erdal Erzincan


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Cross-cultural musical mashups have caught on like wildfire in recent years--the thinking seems to be that two (or three) styles are better than one. Not every combination works like chocolate and peanut butter, but Kayhan Kalhor, a master of the Iranian kemence (spike fiddle), has an uncommonly sensitive understanding of such fusions. He's one of the finest, most committed practitioners of his homeland's classical tradition, but in Ghazal, his long-running group with Indian sitarist Shujaat Husain Khan, he's carefully studied the common ground between the music of Iran and India and preserved the essential qualities of both. He's just as attentive on The Wind (ECM), his recent collaboration with Erdal Erzincan, a Turkish player of the baglama (a long-necked lute). It's a uniquely challenging project: Iranian music emphasizes rigorous improvisation, using only the slightest compositional framework, while Turkish music is much more structured, with solo passages restricted to succinct bursts at designated moments. The mournful songs on The Wind are spontaneous elaborations on traditional material from both Iran and Turkey, and the interplay is astonishing. Kalhor sets long, beautifully vocal-like microtonal lines alongside Erzincan's alternately terse and liquid single-note runs, and their patient give-and-take flows as naturally as water. This is the duo's Chicago debut. a 7 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, 773-728-6000 or 866-468-3401, $20, $16 seniors and kids. A

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