Emam and Friends @ First Fridays at the Frick
- Friday, June 5/2009
What an incredible way to begin our 15th season of First Fridays at the Frick.
Our heartfelt thanks to each one of you for your magnificent music and outstanding talent.
What a fantastic gift to give our audience. We hope that you enjoyed yourself as much as our guests and we did.
It was a perfect night filled with extraordinary song. We enjoyed meeting you and feeling your beautiful energies.
One of the great joys of our positions at the Frick Art & Historical Center is working with talented,
creative people like you. Thank you once again for a most amazing evening.
With our warmest regards,
Margaret A. McLean and Caito Amorose
Co-Producers, Fridays at the Frick (Pittsburgh, PA)
Emam and Friends to Open Artists Series at UW-Eau Claire
EAU CLAIRE - Emam and Friends - a "virtual United Nations of an ensemble [that] has created
some of the freshest, most entertaining and accessible World Fusion music ever" (Awareness Magazine)
- will open the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's Artists Series at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22 (2005), in Zorn Arena.
The concert will be preceded by a World Music for World Peace season opener celebration on the Central Campus
Mall from 6 to 7 p.m. International foods will be sold at the outdoor event, which is sponsored in conjunction
with the Student Life and Diversity Commission of the Student Senate.
The deliberately eclectic amalgam of people and musical heritages brought together by Emam combines
elements from Indian, Turkish, Macedonian, Spanish and Eastern European folk idioms with jazz, rock
and new age music. Emam creates a style of world music that crosses the troubled boundaries of the 21st century,
performing with great artists from around the world.
The program will be presented in two sets. The first will feature North Indian classical and devotional music,
East European music and original pieces, including one set to Persian sufi poetry. After intermission, the concert
will resume with a percussion duet, followed by a Turkish piece and other original pieces showing Persian and Polish
influences, and a piece inspired by Tarot card number nine, The Hermit. The full ensemble will close the concert
with an Indian devotional melody.
The six artists who will take the Artists Series stage represent many cultures and nationalities.
Habib Khan (sitar) traces his lineage of master musicians back several generations to when Indian classical
music enjoyed the patronage of the nobility and royalty of India. He began his training at age five under his father,
Ustad Hameed Jaffar, and over the years has carved out a distinct style of his own, blending his father's traditional
techniques with his own imaginative style.
American saxophonist George Brooks has performed with such notable musicians as Etta James, the Brooklyn Philharmonic,
Kronos Quartet, Anthony Braxton, Zakir Hussain and Terry Riley. His original compositions combine elegant melodies
with the rich harmonies of modern jazz and the driving rhythms of North India.
Violinist Zoltan Lantos received his degree in classical violin from the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest.
Always drawn towards experimental and Eastern music, he studied in India between 1985 and 1994 on a scholarship to study
classical Indian music. He returned to Hungary in 1994, where he rediscovered his musical roots and blended them with his
knowledge of Eastern music and his experiences in contemporary European jazz.
Gari Hegedus has been performing traditional music from Ireland, Scotland, France, Turkey and the Middle East for the
past 20 years. He performs on a wide range of traditional instruments including oud (Middle Eastern lute), violin, Turkish saz,
Yayli tambor, Irish pennywhistle, mando-cello and flute. In addition to his collaborations on traditional music, he has also
performed medieval music, contemporary folk music and pop.
Hamed Nikpay (vocals, setaar and daf) learned to sing at the age of seven, encouraged by his mother, who loved Persian music
and poetry. He has performed with some of the most celebrated musicians in Iran and has recorded his own brand of music,
which combines the best of Persian classical and folk music, infused with music from around the world. His recent work includes
a performance with the Tehran Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Majeed Derakhshanee.
Emam was trained in North Indian classical drumming by the grand masters of tabla, Ustad Alla Rakha and Ustad Zakir Hussain.
He also studied the Delhi Gharana of Tabla with the late Ustad Inam Ali Khan and his son Gholam Haidar. In 1991, he was awarded
a scholarship for study in India by the American Institute of Indian Studies with funding from the Smithsonian Institute.
Over the past 25 years, Emam has performed with many great artists from around the world and has added many recordings to the
annals of world fusion music.
Album Review: Global Fusion
Global Fusion - The Best of Emam and Friends is truly an electrifying album of world fusion music
very much in the tradition of Ancient Future, Oregon, and the DOAH World Music Ensemble.
What an impressive collection of tracks! and world musical instruments such as: tablas, dumbak,
ghatam, oud, sitar, sarod, oboe, mandocello, cello, bansuri, along with bass, sax, electric guitar,
and, on some tracks: vocals. Here emerges an Earthmusic without borders, melding together Indian,
Persian, Turkish, Middle eastern, Balinese, Spanish and Eastern European sounds.
This ensemble is a virtual United Nations of world rhythms - a feast for the ears, illustrating
the label's theme of "World Peace Through World Music."
by James Bean - Copyright October 2005
Album Reviews: Sacred Insanity:
Gently suggesting "World Peace through World Music", Eternal Music released
Emam & Friends' Sacred Insanity. The only condition I sense is that
Emam & Friends are (joyously) crazy about creating ecstatic and devotional music.
Classically trained tabla expert and percussionist Emam has augmented
his original compositions with a worldly ensemble, including, among others,
vocalist/guitarist Jillian Speer (who also penned several songs), pianist
Tom Grant, cellist Moses Sedler, saxophonist George Brooks, and Gary Haggerty
on Mandocello, oud, and violin.
Sacred Insanity is an uplifting, introspective fusion of jazz, rock and
folk music with influences of Indian, Turkish, Spanish, and Eastern European
cultures, and brings out many of the historical connections between them.
There is nothing nuts about everyone getting along, if even only on a CD.
Dirty Linen Magazine - August/September 2000
"This delightful collection features a variety of performers and musical styles,
giving it a nice multi-cultural mood. Each track evokes the Divine in
a different way. Sacred Insanity offers a fine tour of contemporary
sacred music from diverse traditions. Some songs are good for meditation,
others for ritual or easy listening. Something for everyone on this album.
"Sacred Insanity by Emam & Friends is an amazing stew of multi-ethnic
instrumentalists and vocalists. The mandala on the cover is a visual
indicator of the music - colorful, circular and in motion. Some great
fusion drumming by Sivamani as well as Emam's tasty tabla and percussion."
David Licht - Modern Drummer (March 2000)
"Another fabulous fusion in world music comes from Emam & Friends on
the new album Sacred Insanity, which blends contemporary acoustic music
with styles from Iran, India, Europe and the U.S. using voice, percussion,
acoustic guitar, cello, bansuri, oud, violin, drums, sax. Led by Emam on
tabla, this outstanding group of musicians produces a set that can easily
appeal to those weaned on pop music as world music aficionados.....the
multilayered rhythms blend beautifully with the voice and melody instruments
to form a satisfying whole that is far more than the sum of its parts.
The music is thoroughly enjoyable as easy listening, yet offers the attentive
person a wealth of subtle and richly embroidered sonic textures."
Dan Liss - Aquarius (Aug. 99)
"Modern world beat music with heavenly chant and world Jazz flavors
highlight this impressive release from Emam & Friends. Over a dozen
'friends' playing a vast array of instruments give this a rich, full sound
that must be heard loud to be fully appreciated in all of its Sacred Insanity.
Also noteworthy is the introduction of gifted vocalist/nylon string guitarist
Jullian Speers, who adds immense spiritual grace through her hauntingly
Musical Soundscapes - by Rev. Robert Walmsley
While I was in college, I had a friend who used to say -"Music touches ones heart".
I used to make fun of him, saying -"how can music touch your heart,
when you can not even see it!".
Now slowly I started realizing the true essence of my friends' words.
Music is one invisible mystery which can make you smile or cry without any
apparent reason. I just love Emam's compositions.
Ananth (Message from the Eternal Music Web Page Log)
I really didn't know what to expect from Eternal Music's founder,
Iranian composer Emam and a dozen of his friends on the World Beat album
Sacred Insanity. If there was anything insane about the music, it was that
I had never checked them out until now. I heard an incredible blend of World
fusion, jazz, classical, Indian, and Turkish songs. Emam imported the mystery
of the Mandala and combined prayers, dance music and chanting that revealed
sadness, weakness, extraordinary strength and exultation in musical context.
He also introduced a very talented young lady named Jillian Speers who
sang and played her way into my heart.
All of the tracks featured traditional instruments of Eastern music such
as the tabla, oud, flute and various percussion as well as piano, guitar, bass
and sax. Speers plays nylon stringed guitar on most of the tracks and sings on
several with a warm contralto and an experienced hand which is very surprising,
as she is just twenty years young.
I enjoyed "Angels Among Us", a sweet New Age ballad dedicated to angels
everywhere and another cut called "Gayatri" which uses an ancient Sanskrit prayer
for structure. Both tracks feature Jillian Speers on vocals. I particularly liked
a song called "The Rejected" which speaks about the plight of the underclass of
India and how they are treated. It was melancholy to be sure, but it also gave
insight into a world seldom seen by the West and reminded me that there are needy the world over.
The longest (14:48) and most impressive track is called "Dance of the Hermit"
and caps off the album admirably centering on a character from the Tarot and
sounds something like Dave Brubeck goes to India. Sacred Insanity was an emotional
roller coaster ride for me and I absolutely reveled in it as it made my moods change.
The myriad of genres that Emam put together made the CD sparkle.
Review by R.J. Lannan - Wind & Wire
Spreading a message of world peace through world music, this and deliberately
eclectic amalgam of people and musical heritages combines the most exciting
elements from Indian, Turkish, Macedonian, Spanish and Eastern European folk
idioms with jazz, rock and new age stylings.
The music ranges from traditional gypsy songs and ethereal musical mantras
to swinging contemporary instrumentals and pop vocals.
What unites the selections on this unusual recording is the consummate
artistry of the players who bring these exciting sounds to life.
Many are familiar names, others will be new to you; but all add their own
individual inspiration to some of the most listenable tracks available in a long time.
In brief, Emam is an Iranian percussionist/producer/composer who migrated
to the States in 1974. He has trained and performed with the legendary
Zakir Hussain, the Seattle Symphony and the original Frank Zappa musicians
in addition to many tours with 'Emam & Friends'. Drummer Sivamani has shared
the stage with Billy Cobham, Ustad Alla Rakha and others. Guitarist Matthew
Montfort is leader of the legendary world fusion ensemble 'Ancient Future'
and has recorded with Swampan Chaudhuri. Jillian Speer is a 20-year-old
prodigy on classical guitar and sitar, as well as an acclaimed songwriter.
Sax player George Brooks was a student of Pandit Pran Nath and has performed
and recorded with Hariprasad Chaurasia as well as Zakir Hussain. Gary Haggerty
is a superb oud, violin and mandocello player who has performed with ethnic
ensembles in Ireland, France, Turkey and the Middle East for the last 20 years.
Cellist Moses Sedler studied with Ali Akbar Khan and performed with East-West
ensembles. Born in Nepal, 22-year old bansuri flute prodigy Manose has been
teaching music for five years at Naropa Institute and in Kathmandu for U. of Wisconsin.
From this, you can tell that the musicianship is superlative and the
players' dedication towards pushing back the boundaries of world fusion
is complete. Simply put, when truly gifted performers gather together in
the spirit of total creative freedom, magic happens. So forget the rules,
forgot pop culture dictates, and simply groove to the divine madness that
makes this music great.
PJ Birosik - nationally syndicated reviewer
Album Review: Is This Real?:
"Is This Real is a masterful tapestry of musical traditions woven together
into an uplifting new sound. It creates a musical experience that
transcends boundaries. The wide variety of musicians as well as musical
styles highlights this CD as an outstanding example of world fusion music."
India Currents - Dec/Jan 1995
Album Review: Instruments of Devotion:
"Instruments of Devotion" is a collection of instrumental interpretations
of devotional music from India, produced at the end of Emam's stay in India on an AIIS grant.
The CD was recorded live in a studio in Delhi (April/93) direct to digital, with no overdubs.
On this album he, and an ensemble of classically trained musicians
improvise on kirtan melodies in a light classical style.
The recording draws on devotional melodies learned by Emam over the past
seventeen years at the ashram of Babaji, in the Himalayan foothills.
This ensemble will delight you with their unique instrumental presentation
of vocal music. Absolutely refreshing and joyful!
India Currents - Dec/Jan 1995
Album Review: Indian Dream:
"This virtual United Nations of an ensemble has created some of the freshest,
most entertaining and accessible World Fusion music ever!
A heady instrumental brew distinguished by elements of African,
Eastern European, Jazz, Blues, Middle Eastern, and New Age. A must have!"
PJ Birosik - Awareness Magazine Jan, 95