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Safa: Alight

Vancouver-based tar player and vocalist Amir Koushkani is bringing traditional Persian repertoire into the modern era by collaborating with creative improvisers; in this case, clarinetist and fellow Vancouverite Francois Houle, and Puerto Rican percussionist Sal Ferreras. Musical worlds often collide when musicians from different cultures try to work together, so it’s a pleasant surprise to hear how well these three, known as Safa, interact and communicate on their new disc, Alight (Songlines). Who would have thought that bat drums would sound so compatible with bass clarinet, accompanying the singing of a classical Persian poem? Or that the tar (a long-neck lute) would fit so well with avant clarinet and Philippine kulintang drums, Peruvian caj¢n or Irish bodhr n? All three musicians have special moments, including Houle wailing on “Shadi,” Ferreras driving the Turkish tune “Nihawend Lunga” and Koushkani superimposing meters on “Navae.” But it’s the terrific sound quality (delivered via a CD/SACD hybrid disc), gorgeous songs and rapturous interplay that makes Alight stand out.

Originally Published