Reviews of new Persian items (within and outside Iran)
page 2 : new fusing World music, New Fusion & folkrock
listed here are :
Babak, Axiom Of Choice (2 x), Niyaz (2 x)Medi Mokhtari, Probe/Roya
Som'ma, Reza, Kooch, Sote, Emam, Nima & Merge, Shahab Tolouie,
see also : V.A. "Persian Electronic Music", Alireza Mashayekhi, Dariush Dolat-Shahi

Private                        Babak : Magic (IRAN,2000)***    guitar fusion / flamenco fusion

This is a release which on various of the first tracks on the album are in the typical style I would expect from a very professional fusion guitarist. This part is accompanied by electric bass, drums, flute, sax and some other instruments, with the guitar most to the fore. It's technically specialized music with a production that gives a full swelling effect of the instruments. Some other tracks are different and are based upon a flamenco style with arranged compositions with rhythm and various thematical changes. This excellent guitar playing is more modestly produced.

Babak Amini learned at very early age the flamenco style. Later he also participated with Iranian diva Googoosh, arranged her music and toured with her. This flamenco style in Iran is still puzzling me. Flamenco's roots are said to come from the Gypsies but there exist Middle Eastern forms that have some similarities. The style of singing of the cante jondo of Flamenco is very reminiscent of Arabic and Persian singing due to the influence of the Moors in Spain and because the Gypsies originated from India. The dance foundations of both flamenco and Indian music are related too. The first flamenco Fusions originate as far as I know from Iran. And it seems to be another well adapted style in the country, in its own way, not as passionate as the Spanish flamenco, but as a more direct refined style, as a musical form. 

This is a technical adequate release with overall a fine mood and a fusion flair.

info :
P.S.  I once did a radio show with music from a World Fusion musician/
percussionist from Iran, Emam, who likes to fuse with Indian music mostly.
More info at

Narada World  Axiom Of Choice (IRAN,2000)****       Persian & "All World" Fusion / DCD

Having tried to trace important Iranian progressive music and Fusion items, I was told everywhere that Axiom of Choice was the most important new group, as a landmark and as an example of a new genre of Fusion for all Iranian musicians who have emigrated all over the world, having fled from the immense difficulties that free expression faced in their country during the Ayatollah Khomeini.

Axiom Of Choice themselves had emigrated to the United States, kept all their Persian roots and originality and integrity and developed independently an expression they felt comfortable with. The Persian origins itself were transformed and adapted into this new fresh chamber music with improvisational forms.

It was especially the album "Niya Yesh" that was nominated and rewarded as an original world fusion album. A number of the songs on it should be of interest to fans of  Dead Can Dance. The style on various such tracks in a more middle eastern flavoured reference are a kind of improvisation of Persian classical music. A few other songs sound somewhat Indian not only because of the use of the tampura, (Indian drone instrument). At the same time such tracks have as many Persian and western touches. Various other tracks can be regarded as in a less specific area-related music, a genre I have often called before "all world music", because of its free expression in an acoustic style with world instruments. The acoustic guitar with cello, hand percussion and an improvisational kind of singing with middle eastern flavour on "Pravaz" for instance, could have derived from any country (perhaps it's comparable to Portuguese in mood here : with tempered emotions, and a warm chamber music style of playing). Any Persian elements to be heard always have a cross-over sense of expression. Here music and mood became its own language.

A very enjoyable release !!

Audio :  "Greener than God's Dream", "Parvaaz"
More info :
click picture to see better
Narada WorldAxiom of Choice : Unfolding (IRAN,2002)****  Persian and "All World" Fusion

In this second release the group decided to use even more elements, a creation also partly promoting some aspects of the richness of Iran. They adapted the poetry of Omar Khayyam, a medieval mathematician and philosopher. Musically the arrangements are also richer, with more instruments being used in each song. I especially like the combination of Indian tabla with acoustic (and electric) guitars, diwan, vocals on "Turquoise Land". On "Through the shadows" the group also experiments with new instruments (quartertone guitar, electric cello,..) which sounds great too. The Dead Can Dance reference is not here any more. Instead the style is even more independent, with a world music fusion reference.

An interesting and enjoyable CD of unfolding moods.

Audio : "Evanescent", "Elixir"
Info (and other reviews) :
Article and webpage with some audio here
Private             Medi Mokhtari : Semillas (IR,2002)***°        Flamenco & World Fusion      

Before getting deeper into the music it's better to know Mehrad's backgrounds, how he came to this recording.
Mehrdad 'Medi' Mokharti has performed on popular stages throughout Iran since he was fifteen. At 16 he moved to England to complete high school before moving to Madrid to refine the flamenco style and to understand the links between eastern and western cultures to be found in Spain. After this he moved to the US to complete a bachelor degree in Architecture and a Master's degree in Interactive Computer Graphics. After having formed 'Suite N° 3', an acid jazz project (with funk, blues, jazz, rap elements) he wrote this debut album in 2002.

The instrumental pieces are arranged and produced professionally by Medi himself. He got help from a number of musicians : Pedro Eustache (nay & flute), Antonio de Jerez, (vocals, cajon & palmas), John Belezekian, (ud), Alexis Sklarevski & Ron Sures, (bass), Cassio Duarte, (world percussions), Amir Sofi, (Arabic percussions), Jaganathan Ramamoorthy, (violin) and Paul Livingstone, (sitar). Although the pieces are based upon a light play of very gentle flamenco guitar style, the arrangements give it a more full sound where no instrument comes more to the fore than necessary. All tracks are nicely interwoven. The mood is that of a quiet warm summer evening. I can only judge the music from how it appeals to my heart. I'm not a musicologist ; I can only say I've heard a lot of music and have I noticed that only a small amount of music has the ability to give something rewarding, as well as challenging, while some other music inspires a more quiet and subtle awareness, which can be found here. It's musicality, and fusing abilities are always subtle. The instrumentals are arranged and performed with a comfortable relaxed condition and sound. They are expressions like a friendly gift from a gentleman. Some tracks are more up tempo and joyful, flamenco styled with arabic (or world) rhythms (like on "Baile Gitano") , others create such warm evening moods I mentioned earlier ("Tears of Joy", "Sweetness",..). "Sufi" is the only track with flamenco singing (by Antonio de Jerez). It's more "powerful" to the fore (in a gypsy way) and has some sitar and (flamenco rock) flute to accompany the flamenco style.

The sleeve says : "In the autumn I gathered all my sorrows and buried them in my garden. And when April returned and spring came to wed the earth, there grew in my garden beautiful flowers unlike all other flowers. And my neighbours came to behold them, and they said to me "When autumn comes again at seeding time, will you not give us the seeds of these flowers that we may have them in our gardens ?", a text by famous Persian poet Khalil Gibran.*

Flamenco came forth from a style from people in exile, transforming their griefs into a powerful and interactive expression. Whenever I heard flamenco being played in the hand of professional Persian musicians, like Medi it's as if the seeds found back their way to earth and blossomed the next spring, as if the circle of transformation has completed itself with a mood of peace and beauty. This feeling can be felt more deeply in the last track of this album, "Nostalgia".

* (Medi: "Khalil Gibran was born in Lebanon and moved to the USA when he was very young. He is one of the great poets/philosophers of the 20th Century.

The poem that is printed in perian script on the cover is from Hafez, the greatest Persian poet, and has a simillar meaning to that of Gibrans.")

Website :
Probe Music          Probe (IR/AFG/IND/US,1999)***°

Probe is a US based original acoustic Fusion group. Styles of noticeable music influences come from flamenco & jazz fusion (: the acoustic guitar style), Indian music (tabla & vocals), Persian classical music (santur).

What makes this group strong is the widely ranged background of all members. Said Amintinat, was born in Iran, and is a graduate of classical guitar, Roya Bahrami, also born in Iran, studied Persian classical music, Barry Dove, is a US born percussionist for classical and contemporary classical music ensembles and vibraphonist for the Barry Dove Jazz Quartet, Humayun Farzad, born in Afghanistan, learned Indian classical vocal music, and played before with various Indian masters, -in this group he also plays harmonium, and Debu Nayak, born in India, has played tabla with various Indian masters.

The sum of the qualities of this quintet taken together makes music more relaxed and open, typical for Islamic countries like Iran, which is enriched with a fusing ability, more typical for Western countries, and with a freshness in melodic and rhythmic vibration, typical of Indian music. This makes for complete listening pleasure, of a style which I have sometimes called a bridging 'all-world music'. All originating styles are more or less still recognisable. At the same time they are combined and blended.

Audio : "Weeping Clown","Water Lilies Dance","Sunrise", "Caravan"
Info : 
Contact : Roya Bahrami ; see also solo release below-
Som'ma : This San Francisco based group have been performing throughout the west coast for about 2 years now in the USA. Most of the work they have been doing has been centered around new forms and possibilities of performing traditional Persian music, mixing and expanding it using Avant-Garde, Arabic, Indian, Electronic and Jazz forms and ideas. Most recently they have been in the studio for about 7-8 months already working on an album of Persian Traditional +  Ambient Electronic + Jazz mix. I'll keep you informed when this release will be ready. Around that time I guess the group will be ready for a larger world tour.

Info : Audio : "Raks", "Persian Garden III", "Persian Garden IV"
Stonemountain Entertainment Reza (Derakshani) : Ray of the Wine (IR,US,2005)**°'

Before one can understand music from a professional Iranian musician, one must understand that Western Music easily readily back on easy rhythms, while principles in Persian and Arab standards when using rhythms like 5/4 or 7/4 for instance causes a different kind of perception and experience which causes a kind of trance vision which pulls you into the complete sense of the music rather than just the rhythmic repetition.

With some recognisable, very direct song-improvisation, the band is lead By Reza on vocals, tar, kamanche and setar, ney, has John Densmore (former The Doors) on drums, Osama Afiffi on electric bass, Quinn Johnson on double bass, hammond B3 organ, piano and clavinet, and with guest Harlan Steinberger playing on djembe on one track.

These (Western) musicians were taken by surprise, and succeeded in making a certain compact foundation of variated grooves, to the music. First track, “Wild Hare” is rather groovy and danceable with a attractive funky bass by Osama Afiffi, some Hammond touches, oud/guitar-like tar, with Persian singing, and repetitive swinging drums by John Densmore. The calmer song "Ray of the Wine" starts in a rather jazzy relaxed way (piano, double bass, tar, drums). It shows John Densmore's interest in jazz from a jazz-outsider. It has expression with inner emotion. Stephen Kent adds a bass tone didgeridoo vibration undertone to the next track, "Zhaleh", a song accompanied by another bowed stringed instrument, the kamanche, with a jazzy double bass improvisation. "I'm Back" in 5/4 on dumbek, bass, drums, hi hat and bells is a beautiful, more traditional track. Wish I knew from where it originates. I guess "Masnavi" has also different origins. It is started by ney flute and has an North African feeling, especially with the additional double bass, clav, drum rhythms. “Heart of Fire” is a personal enchanting song on tar ? with John on cajon (rhythms). "Hey you the painter" sounds like a rather devotional replaint, with John on 7/5 traps, Christina Berio on percussion, Harlan Steinberger on djembe and reza on setar and voice. "How Would I Know" starts with a setar solo improvisation, when electric bass, percussion instruments, and voice slowly builds it up together to a nice finish, with a completely tempered exhalation. A nice and enjoyable release.

Info :
& &
& (with audio)
Other audio pages :
John Densmore Interview with fragments Video 1, video 2
(videoframents also linked at
Other reviews :
Six Degrees Rec.  Niyaz : Remixed EP (US,2006)**'?

After having checked the latest Niyaz release I wondered if there wasn’t something wrong with my equipment some years back when I first heard the remixes EP. At that listen I found that on most of these remixes I could hardly hear the music underneath. Only "Allahi Allah" (Carmen Rizzo remix) the song qualities were intact and enriched with and some extra mixing desk effects and additional electronic and tabla rhythms. I wondered if this wasn’t going away from Fusion music because this approach can make most elements into something more commercial, one step further away from its inner need for expressing its inner burning flame of a content that lies deeply hidden in its traditional cores. I didn’t have the chance yet to give this particular release a second listen now...

Info : with audio :

Six Degrees Rec.  Niyaz : Nine Heavens -2cd- (US,2008)****+***

For creating a global world mix I think in general this is only fully convincing when the participating members in fact present their own inter-connecting roots. Former singer of duo Vas, Azam Ali, was born in Persia, raised in India, -in English-, and now lives in the US, has all the necessary and strong connections that connect India, Iran and the US, during old and new history, in music, involved and caring for the people who are connected through those places and are living there. With the help of her two band mates the band brings full live and well expressions to these connections. To some degree it is participating in saving and reviving some Persian and other older folk traditions and ideas which connect with the new world, in a new global context, finding deeper connections through these musical traditions and inspirations, but also through an honest interest in Sufi poets, not just in the, also in our times and all over the world still popular poet, Rumi. Sufi music knew already some revival with modern club beats through people like the Turkish DJ/musician Mercan Dede (also classical Sufi musician), but also Niyaz, with this release, through certain Sufi poetry, strengthens a bond formed previously before by the existence of the Sufi, between Turkey and Persia. The participants that expand this idea musically with a whole range of instrumental expressions are the well in demand LA producer Carmen Zizzo (known from cooperations with Cirque du Soleil, Khaled, Seal, Coldplay, A.Morisette, R.Sakamoto, and a lot more…) and Persian born multi-instrumentalist (known from Persian fusion band Axiom Of Choice), Moga Ramin Torkian, together with a whole list of traditional/classical folk guest musicians, which I assume (seeing their names) are from Persian, Turkish and Indian origin.

Niyaz means ‘yearning’ both in urdu (India) and farsi (Iran). It is this yearning that brings and makes live to the existing bridges between these cultures.

The album is split into two discs and sessions. The first CD is the global fusion and most modern sound expression, a comparable one to some degree to how Dead Can Dance once promoted medieval music into a different, more modern context. This sounds vivid, and with a good balance of body (grounding) and soul, as a combination of Persian and other folk music with modern production strength. For this, the folk core is treated completely respectful for the best effect on disc. The original folk ideas are very recognisable. The first track is Turkish, while the second clearly reveals knowledge of certain Indian traditions and flavours in singing (it is in the Indian Urdu language), while adding into it a Indian/Persian fusion. “Isq” has all the strength of Indian grooves music, while I also hear Persian flavours and Turkish lute, while the track after that, “Allah Mazzare” Niayaz proves that also with Persian traditions equally strong fusing grooves can be part of it, a new power to the traditional styles compared to how Indian music is threaded more often.

Today I am not sure why I didn’t like the earliest mini-cd so much a few years back, because this is well done. Personally I think that the first CD is even most satisfying. The second, acoustic mix, shows the traditional cores well, but for a CD purpose (not a live recording which includes the energy of interaction) for most tracks Niyaz total approach of ideas works also most powerful. For this second session they also reserved some tracks that work pretty well or perhaps even best in their acoustic format, like for instance the Indian flavoured “Isq-love and the veil” or the Persian “Molk-e-divan”, an old Persian song expressing a feeling of bliss found when being drunk on wine, with a power to break inner sadness. 

Homepage : & audio on
Homepage Carmen Rizzo :
Articles :
Review on
Info :
The Jazzfusion items from Nima & Merge, lead by an American from Persian origin, Nima Rezai are reviewed shortly on

Private  Kooch : Zemzeme / Whisper (IR/UK,2000)****

This is the second album by Kooch, a musical project/group lead by Iranian born Cyrus Khajavi.

The album starts with “Zamzeme” and “Boro Amma Bedan” showing Cyrus as a brilliant guitarist, with a theme in a picking troubadour style. This flows perfectly into “Ravom Sahra” a (Persian) Khorasani folk song, but in a folkrock context, well mixed and arranged with additional bass, complex rhythms, some small funky element, and great subtle variations. An instrumental “Akhlamad” then brings a contemplative moment of melancholic peace, played by microtonal keyboards. Beautifully the song Tanhaie” has starting elements of a Persian folkpop song, but has its own progressive evolution, with some great worked out moody guitar solo’s besides other arrangements.
Also “Havas Ha” starts recognisably as a Persian pop expression and is made more interesting with the complex rock arrangements. “Sar Umad Zemestoon” which starts with another contemplative moment with harmonious microtonal keyboards, has the most progressive rock ideas mixed into this piece, with a bit of song, acoustic and electric guitars and some complex rhythm changes.
Three “Azerbaijani folk tunes” are also arranged with a certain rock drive strength (with great bass on the first one too), and some playfulness. The last 11 minute track, “Baran” is similar, with for me almost African-like sounding vocal harmonies, and a feeling, with a rather happy inner strength that these expressions can belong to any part of the world

. Kooch have surely delivered a well arranged and produced album, with a great band convincing with a rock element to the songs which have some Persian flavour, without ever being limited by its inspiration and expressions.

Audio : "Boro Amma Bedan", "Ravom Sahra", "Tanhaie","Sar Umad Zemestoon","Azerbedjan folk tune","Azerbedjan folk tune","Azerbedjan folk tune","Baran"
Homepage :
Guitarist Uwe D'Rose info :
Info :
Other review :
Spanish review :

PS. I also heard 5 tracks of a fine live concert recording from June,2005 (played in QEH theatre). Kooch here was an acoustic trio ? "Dan's Dance" was an instrumental for chamber orchestra, folkrock Fusion with Persian themes. "Carqvan" & "Barg-e-Khazan" are I think Persian songs ? with acoustic guitar, accompanied by cello & violin, and the second track also with some handpercussion. "Majnoon Naboocem" is a folk (dance?) song accompanied by guitar, cello, double bass, violin, very rhythmically played. "Sar Umad Zemestoon", another folk tune was added more chamber improvisations to it. It is a good compromise of presenting some Persian folk ideas into an accessible acoustic contemporary vision of expression.

Record Label Rec./Dieelectric  Sote : Dastgaah (IR,2006)***'

A few days ago I copied a CD in an audio CD recorder where I could hear it simultaneously in double speed, when I realized that music which is terrific still sound attractive this way. Of course I recognised immediately that the music starting on Soto’s album on the first track used a speeded up santur performance. The sounds of this composition here had something almost electronic. This track was the introduction of an electronic music core for Sote’s music, which took many elements used from Persian music and recordings which sound more often hardly-recognisable and hidden. Anyhow, the music is built upon dynamic melodies and sounds in different speeds. At times it is more like ethnical music-concrete, like a Persian Pierre Henry, a few times elsewhere more rather dark experimental (with horror like voices), then like a Persian Muslimgauze. Mostly the melodic compositions are still recognisable as creations of new aspects in known forms, or are more directly an interesting new form of it in new music. The composer Akta Ebtekar lived a while on the San Fransisco Bay area but the music recording was shaped at his return home in Iran. The beautiful artwork was done by Roza Matlabi.

Audio : track 2, track 3 &
Other review : ; more of Sote on next release of electronic music here

Atlas Music Shahab Tolouie : Tango Perso (IR(/CZ),2009)****°

Flamenco still has a strong importance in Iran since the flamenco roots trace back to Persia, because the people who arrived in Spain many years later were the Indian musicians who came from the Persian court but were forced to leave the country when they refused to work additionally at something else rather than just perform music, many centuries ago. The flamenco style in Iran nowadays has a different and tempered form, shows just one of the possibilities but since “flamenco” now has it’s own historical and structural development in Spain there still are differences which are interesting to combine. Shahab studied Spanish flamenco in a master class in Sevilla (Spain), adapted Persian instruments like setar, laud, mandola, daf and dammam, but also developed his use of voice, in a Persian way (you can hear the influence of Persian song music -with its own typical melodic sweetness-). You can notice he also studied Persian Dervish music (with its strange to western ears half tone combinations), traditional Persian music with master Shahram Nazeri Besides he was influenced by and adapted some strength in emphasis and fluency from jazz and rock. The result is very strong when he incooperates all, making fluent movements that melt the Persian and flamenco elements into a new style (which he called “ethnoflamenco”), sometimes more flamenco, sometimes more Persian, at times brilliantly combined (in guitar style as well as in vocals), but there are also a few tracks in Andalusian style concluding the album. The liner notes say Persian music is more based upon the scale, while flamenco follows a rhythmical structure. It is the spiritual dramatic improvisation techniques which helped him to make the bridge, with a result that brings the spirit smoothly over the cross borders. Today Shahab lives in Prague where he finished the album.

Video's on
Info & audio : & 2 tracks on
Homepage : http://www.shahab-tolouie.comchosen tracks for airplay : 1,3,6
Artwork was done by Armenian artist Eduard Edigaryan,
currently living in Czech Republic :

private pressing   Roya (Bahrami) : I am I am not (IR(/US),2010)***

Santur-player and Persian-born singer called Roya once played with Probe (reviewed on this page as well) now has her first solo release. Partly this is digging into her traditional past and genes, rediscovering her inner nature through tradition and melting with other person's contributions like with the flamenco guitar by Ricardo Marlow and sax improvisations. However, it is only rarely that this flamenco guitarist is exploring something with a new challenge of a discovery process although common roots of traditions should be able to be found and explored. On “Moon & Musician” it is more Roya herself who bridges the flamenco root on santur. This song is in English. On “Moonstruck” and “Carmelita” the flamenco guitar leads more, combined with clarinet and santur and such. Such directions to blend styles like on “Carmelita” are in hearing them of course appreciated , and I wished it had happened with a stronger focus on them. The result of the record is a bit more often like a Persian song album, which is still a bit more melancholic than celebrative with traditions, being far away from a land that should appreciate these rootings, but where the Iranian government still is based upon limitation thus changing tradition by putting an end to things and not upon renewing a personal or communal self-discovery process. People in general much more recognise themselves in the old Rumi poems, and have to sing the songs abroad where less people listen. The combination on “Stranger”, dedicated to all immigrants, is odd, the harmonies hardly blend easily and the feeling remains of a partial failure and only partly success, not so much musically, but more emotionally as if not all necessary aspects can find itself that easily over time. I can't think of a better place at this moment of the CD to read next a translation of Rumi with a santur led accompaniment. I have listened a couple of times to this album. Clearly an inner process is shared, not everything is solved and new landscapes are not yet fully established, the songs resume a few meeting points of inner negotiations. Also on Rumi's poem “The beloved” some flamenco guitar with sax and santur improvises together like a walk and talk together. The last two tracks were two Probe tracks which are now rearranged for or improvised with this new trio.

Video :
Info & audio :
Homepage : or
See also
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I'd like to find more, similar examples for review & airplay ;
will review/airplay all Persian crossover items.
please tell me if you know good examples