Listen to some samples of Heart - Silk Road Relief for Japan vol. 1
Track 1: Rhythm for The Soul of Japan
Arranged by: Scott Perry
Afghan Rubab: Homayoun Sakhi
Bamboo Flutes: Pervez Sakhi
Cello: Scott Perry
Keyboard: Pervez Sakhi, Scott Perry
Percussion: Pervez Sakhi, Scott Perry
Homayoun Sakhi is one of the most influential Afghan rubab players performing today. His artistry as a musician, composer and vocalist is not only notable in its own right, but is a testimony to his perseverance in the light of artistic persecution. In the decades following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the rise of the Taliban created a culture in which of musical and artistic expression was undermined, censored, and eventual banned outright. Homayoun Sakhi’s exploration of the classical Afghani rubab style has not only survived the challenging conditions of repression, it has elevated the traditional instrument to new heights of expression.
Homayoun Sakhi, was born in Kabul in 1976 into a deeply musical family. From the age of ten he began to learn the art of the rubab from his father, Ghulam Sakhi, a master of the instrument. The rubab’s origins begin in Central Asia and is rooted in Northern Indian tradition but the instrument, and derivations of it, has traveled widely through Central and Western Asia before being brought to Afghanistan. The Afghan style Sakhi received from his father contained a heady mixture of influences, including a strong Persian component, shaped by the instrument’s history as well as the history of Afghanistan itself.
Nowadays, the rubab is regarded as Afghanistan’s national instrument. This is in part a due to those musicians who actively worked to keep the tradition of the instrument alive during the destructive rein of the Taliban. In 1992, Homayoun’s family moved to the Pakistani city of Peshawar, a city well-known as a refuge for Afghans fleeing the political violence of their homeland. Once relocated, Homayoun quickly gained a reputation as an in-demand performer and regularly appeared on television and radio alongside the popular vocalists of the time.
Peshawar brought Homayoun in contact with a large community of Afghan musicians who were also in exile. His individual voice as a rubab player was honed through learning how his Kabul style differed from or overlapped with other rubab players. He was exposed to a wide rage of instruments and music from outside of Afghanistan and began to learn what resonated with him and how those sounds, techniques, and rhythms could be translated to his rubab performances. Ultimately the time gave him a profound appreciation for the rubab as an instrument in and of itself that need not be always limited to a supporting role.
Homayoun Sakhi currently lives in Fremont, California, a city containing one of the largest Afghan communities within the United States. In Fremont Homayoun has become a pillar of the local music community and has opened a school to teach Afghan music to children. Not only is he an in-demand local performer (often working with tabla-player Toryalai Hashimi) with many CDs of Afghan songs to his name, he also travels worldwide, expanding awareness and appreciation of the rubab and Afghan music. Homayoun Sakhi humble man, despite all the praise and accolades he receives. Despite his busy schedule he continues to practice the rubab extensively each day in an attempt to constantly grow as a musician, performer, and as a person.
Track 2: Aman Doktor
Stellamara was founded in 1994 by classically trained vocalist/musician/producer Sonja Drakulich and versatile instrumentalist Gari Hegedus. Based in San Francisco, Stellamara presents a thoroughly modern exploration of devotional music that transcends categorization while still maintaining profound roots in Near Eastern, Middle Eastern, and Medieval European musical traditions.
Sonja’s personal journey of musicality began with Eastern European singing but swiftly grew to include the study of Balkan and Medieval European music, as well as Hindustani, Persian, Turkish, Greek and Arabic vocal traditions. Gari’s own path was likewise far reaching, starting with the fiddle and mandolin and moving on to add the oud, violin, saz, mandocello, yayli tambur, sarod, setar, and more to his repertoire. The pair is joined by co-writer and accomplished cellist Rufus Cappodocia whose unique sound is in part due to his self-designed five-string electric cello. Clarinetist, Peter Jaques, brings to the group an innovative melding of Balkan Rom, Greek, Turkish and Klesmer music.
On stage and in the studio, Stellamara often incorporates the talents of other extraordinary musicians such as Arabic and Balkan percussionists Faisal Zedan and Tobias Roberson, and the multi-instrumentalist/percussionist, Evan Fraser.
Track 3: Istanbul’un Gozyaslari
By: Nevican Ozel
Nevcivan Sevindik Ozel is world-renouned as a tarzen (a player of the tar, a stringed instrument native to Turkey ), a composer and arranger. Born in Istanbul in 1962, Nevcivan Sevindik Ozel started his musical studies in childhood and went on to specialize in the tar at ITU’ Turkish Music State in the Conservatorium of Basic Sciences Turkish Folk Music and continued on to get his master’s degree at master’s degree at ITU Social Sciences Institute. He was appointed as a tar teacher at ITU Turkish Music State Conservatorium between the years of 1991-1994.
His professional career began in 1980 as a tar player at Istanbul Radio, giving recitals at several universities, culture centers, and on TV in addition to his radio work. In this time he also gained notice for his polyphonic arrangements for folk orchestras. By the mid 80’s he began to travel internationally, representing Turkey at various folk music festivals and music conservatories abroad. His recording career began in the late 80’s and showcases his inspirational versatility as a tarzen soloist, duet partner, vocalist, composer, and arranger.
His journey across the last 30 years has shown a solid respect for preserving the legacy of traditional folk music while also moving to introduce the Tar into the modern musical vernacular of the jazz world. (this is mostly just an edited down version of the very long bio he sent us. Many sentences are unaltered. Let me know if you need a more original blurb. It should probably be cut down even more than this but if so, I’ll need a few days of distance.)
Track 4: Kumoi Rokudan 雲井六段
By: Shigemasa Sadako 重政貞子
Composer: Yatsuhashi Kengyou 八橋検校
生田流宮城社大師範 Ikutaryu School, Miyagi Sha, Koto Master
NHK邦楽育成会１６期卒業 Graduated from the NHK Traditional Japanese Music Educational Association
橘の会主催 Sponsor of “Tachibana no Kai”
茨城県土浦市在住 Living in Tsuchiura, Ibaraki
Track 5: Sayang
By: The London Uyghur Ensemble
The London Uyghur Ensemble, established in 2004, is a London-based group dedicated to the traditional and popular music of the Central Asian Uyghurs. The Uyghur are a Turkic ethnic group who do not possess their own independent state. The majority of Uyghurs live in the Xinjian Uyghur Autonomous Region of China, ruled by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) a relationship marked by tension and occasional violence. Many diasporic communities can be found throughout the countries of Central Asia. The London Uyghur Ensemble includes Uyghur musicians from the Uyghur homeland and from the Uyghur community in Kyrgyzstan, in collaboration with professional British musicians.
Over the years the Ensemble has worked hard to build their repertoire of instrumental pieces, dance numbers, composed and traditional songs, and the classical “Twelve Muqam” suites. They have similarly strived to help the Uyghur community to reach a wider audience in the UK and worldwide, raining awareness of the Uyghur diaspora and increasing appreciation of their rich musical culture and traditions.
Track 5: Hulusi
By: Rain In Eden
HuLuSi: Megumi O.
Percussion: Kelly Williams and Herman Bartelen
Track 7: I Kurd
By: Sevda Alekperzadeh
Sevda's voice, strong and full of emotional resonance, has the power to transform. Well-versed in modern electronic pop and club music, Sevda is not content to be confined by the narrow parameters of a pop star. Her singing style has evolved from a variety of source from traditional folk vocalization to soul music, jazz, new wave, opera bel canto and even African griots. Her artistic persona is distinguished by her synthesis of traditional and modern music and balancing eastern and western inspirations.
Sevda was born in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijain, in a house overlooking the Caspian Sea. Azerbaijain is rich in complex musical traditions that combine classical poetry and musical improvisation structured by "Mugham" an orally passed down structure of rules about melody, scale, emotion and more similar to "Maqam" in Arab and eastern music. Her father, a famous writer, introduced her to a world of music by singing traditional Mugham songs and by the age of 14, Sevda decided that she would become a singer. She now combines Mugham with jazz and pop music, traditional eastern folk instruments with contemporary innovations in sound. The modern sensibility of her musical arrangements allows for a new generation of listeners to connect Azeri music.
Sevda continues to be inspired by and to draw inspiration from Azerbaijan. Her passionate voice springs forth from the wide variety of landscapes of her homeland and the rich folk traditions that come from each distinct region of Azerbaijan. She is grounded in the land and tradition and yet, like the changing of seasons through time, she is always evolving as an artist.
Track 8: Silent River
By: Sag Chana
From the Album Sag Chana. A hybrid ethnic music trio born of Arabian percussion and harmonic overtone instruments. Melodic instruments have been eliminated, leaving space for a multitude of rhythms to be born. Delicate and passionate, their music will draw you into a unique world.
Kazuhiro Minowa - Frame drum
Joe Kitsukawa - Jaw harp, Hamon (Japanese metal slit drum)
Yuzo Hisada - Frame drum, Jaw harp
Track 9: Isabliss Elegy
Amethystium is a musical project spearheaded by Norwegian composer, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Øystein Ramfjord, often featuring a range of guest performers. Characterized by an atmospheric fusion of electronic and organic sounds, the music traverses a span of moods that travels from darkness to light, bliss and melancholy. It ranges from the purely relaxing to the subtly intense, invoking dreamlike evocative musical journeys. Amethystium slips between the categories of Ambient Electronic, and Neoclassical, remaining free of rigid definition.
After debuting in 1999 with an independent demo, Amethystium was signed to Neurodisc Records (a then subsidiary of EMI ) and released a string of three Billboard charting full-length albums in the U.S. from 2001 to 2004. In 2006 a retrospective compilation titled "Emblem (Selected Pieces)" was released, and the long awaited fourth studio album came in 2008, titled Isabliss. A fifth album is currently in the works.
Track 10: Tree of Patience
By: Omar Faruk Tekbilek
Honored as a peacemaker and virtuoso, Omar Faruk Tekbilek is now one of the most sought-after musicians, whose work transcends political boundaries while maintaining traditional sensibilities in a way few artists can manage.
He was born in Adana, Turkey to a musical family who nurtured his precocious talents. He began his musical career by developing proficiency on the kaval, a small diatonic flute, and quickly learned the intricate rhythms of Turkish music, how to read scales and mastered several other instruments; ney (bamboo flute), zurna (double-reed oboe like instrument with buzzing tone), the baglama (long-necked lute), the oud (the classic lute), as well as percussion.
In 1967, upon turning sixteen, he moved to Istanbul where he and his brother worked as in-demand session musicians working with some of the greatest Turkish musicians of the time. While staying true to his folkloric roots he also he explored Arabesque, Turkish, and Western styles and the compositional potential of the recording studio. While in Istanbul he also met the Mevlevi Dervishes, the ancient Sufi order of Turkey. He did not join the order, but was profoundly influenced by their mystical approach and fusion of sound and spirit. During that time he was also introduced to Hatha Yoga and eventually to Tai Chi, which he continues to practice daily.
By 1971 at the age of 20, he made his first tour of the United States as a member of a Turkish classical/folk ensemble. After meeting his wife while on tour, he relocated to America. Finding few options for Turkish musician in America, he formed a band called the Sultans with an Egyptian keyboardist, a Greek bouzouki player, and his brother-in-law on percussion. They recorded five albums during this time, attracting attention within the fans of Middle Eastern dance.
This was all about to change with the fateful meeting with Brian Keane in 1988. In the following years, he and Keane would produce another six recordings together, launching Omar Faruk
boldly into the world music scene. Omar Faruk Tekbilek has since established himself as one of the world's foremost exponents of Middle Eastern music. A multi-instrumentalist par
excellence,he has collaborated with a number of leading musicians of international repute. He has contributed to numerous film and TV scores and to many recordings including
world sacred music albums, and has been touring extensively throughout the Middle East, Europe, Australia, North and South America.
Omar Faruk’s music is rooted in tradition, but has been influenced by contemporary sounds. He views his approach as “cosmic” and his commitment to music runs deep. The four corners of his creativity emanate mysticism, folklore, romance, and imagination. Like Omar Faruk himself, his music symbolizes diversity-in-unity.
Heart - Silk Road Relief for Japan vol. 1 was produced by Kelly Williams, Megumi O and Jeffrey Jousan. Mastered by Jeffrey Jousan at Studio J, located in Ibaraki, Japan. Special thanks to Kathryn Ozma Robarts for her work on the artist profiles.
Listen to Heart - Silk Road Relief for Japan vol. 1
Listen to Soul - Silk Road Relief for Japan vol. 2