Hafez Modirzadeh: Post-Chromodal Out!

Post-Chromodal Out! continues on the path that Hafez Modirzadeh (tenor, alto) started down two years ago with Amir ElSaffar (trumpet). Irani-American and Iraqi-American, respectively, both men incorporated the music of those countries with jazz on the innovative Radif Suite. ElSaffar joins the saxophonist again on two lengthy suites based on Modirzadeh’s “post-chromodal” concept, where the music has a greater range of intervals than Western music. In addition to the way these two men have adapted their horn techniques to play this way, Modirzadeh took the bold leap of retuning a piano in a manner that blends Persian intervals with the even temperament normally heard on the 88s. With no less than Vijay Iyer at the keyboard, the album delivers great returns on each musical risk Modirzadeh takes.

The 48-minute “Weft Facets” is banded into 17 brief tracks. Modirzadeh’s approach to his saxophone results in a tone that sounds untutored, but his should not be mistaken for a primitive performance. His choice of notes and dynamic execution argue otherwise. The clashing “harmonies” of the horns might sound too close for comfort to Western ears, but together with the occasional use of electric guitar and traditional Persian and Filipino instruments, it becomes engrossing with familiarity. Iyer’s revised instrument might be the biggest advancement the piano has seen in decades, and he exploits it with thrilling results.

The 11-part “Wolf & Warp” leans closer to avant-jazz, giving space to Ken Filiano (bass) and royal hartigan (drums) within the ensemble passages. Offering some uptempo moments that don’t occur enough (this album’s only setback) it sometimes sounds like early ’60s Miles Davis translated into a foreign language. Many have blended jazz with foreign musics, but few have been as successful in recent times as Modirzadeh.