"This is wonderful music. The world needs more of this." - Robert Bush, San Diego Troubadour
"Cipher is like a kite, is rooted in tradition but sails in improvisational expansiveness." - Mark Dresser
"Cipher is an exciting contribution to the field of intercultural music making." - Michael Dessen
"... a real mixture of styles and influences." - Margy Kahn, KZSU Stanford
" Awakening ..." - Stan, WFMU New York
The Sibarg Ensemble explores a creative intercultural music making by combining the sounds of traditional Iranian music and jazz. Through original compositions, arrangements of classical melodies and folksongs, and structured improvisations, ensemble members draw on their own distinct musical backgrounds, while creating a unique dialogue with one another. With each performance, Sibarg sets out to create a sense of unity and peace.
Vocalist Hesam Abedini established the Sibarg Ensemble in 2008 at the Tehran Music Conservatory as the first university ensemble to combine Iranian and non-Iranian music. Up until that point, no music school or academic institution in Iran maintained an ensemble or orchestra that performed new music composed for traditional Iranian and Western instruments. When the ensemble moved to the United States in 2010, they reformed with kamancheh player Niloufar Shiri, tar player Ebrahim Poustinchi, pianist Josh Charney, and bassist Kyle Motl. Their first album Cipher, released in 2018, was sponsored by the Jordan Center for Persian Studies and the Farhang Foundation. The Sibarg Ensemble has performed at numerous music festivals, universities, and cultural institutions, including Springfest SD, Mount Saint Mary’s Women in Music Festival, Carlsbad Music Festival, Intercultural Music Conference (IcM), Central Stage Berkeley, UCLA Royce Hall, USC Bovard Auditorium, UCI Smith Hall, and UCSD Conrad Prebys Music Center. They have also held educational workshops at UCLA, UCSD, the Iranian-American Cultural Center San Diego, and with the Santa Monica Youth Orchestra. Their music has been featured on WNYC’s New Sounds, KEXP’s Wo’ Pop, WFMU, KZSU, and KFJC.
Though sonically representative of two different regions and cultures of the world, traditional Iranian music and jazz are both rooted in improvisational practices. The music of Iran is an improvisatory music occurring within a specific framework that includes traditional melodic and rhythmic structures combined with Iranian poetry. Jazz improvisation also incorporates established themes and rhythmic patterns; however, over the years, jazz has openly welcomed international musical cultures into its contemporary forms. In this album, the Sibarg Ensemble explores the concept of combining the sounds of Iranian music and American jazz through an intercultural improvised music making. By utilizing Iranian and Western instruments, including the kamâncheh, târ, robâb, vocals, piano, double bass, and drums the musicians draw on their own musical backgrounds, while creating a unique dialogue with one another. Ultimately, this album cultivates something that is neither Iranian nor American, but rather a fluid soundscape that transgresses regional and cultural identifications.
1. Azal (6:49)
2. Sâri Galin (8:57)
3. Cipher (6:28)
4. Four Parts (6:59)
5. Deylamân (5:01)
6. Faryâd (9:21)
Hesam Abedini: Vocals
Joshua Charney: Piano
Kyle Motl: Double Bass
Andrew Munsey: Drums
Ebrahim Poustinchi: Târ & Robâb
Niloufar Shiri: Kamâncheh