All tracks composed by
Hossein Alizadeh and Madjid Khaladj
Music performed by
Hossein Alizadeh, shurangiz
Madjid Khaladj, tombak
Liner note by Nader Family.
Reflections on Free Improvisation
There are rare events where a number of long held notions converge in ways that they become a singular experience. Often when notions collapse onto a single point, their energies combine in a unity from which light will emanate.
The Echoes of Light concert at the City Theatre of Brussels was truly such an event. Hossein Alizadeh and Madjid Khaladj presented an evening of improvisations of the highest order. They offered a glimpse onto their effort to expand and cross barriers that have confined traditional improvisational techniques, especially as it relates to Persian music.
Over the past ten years, Alizadeh and Khaladj have contributed greatly to the evolution of free improvisation. In this latest work they have developed this abstract art form to be self-referential yet limitless by creating a musical space in which tunes and melodic constructs borrowed from a traditionally set framework become the genesis for expanding and producing new forms based on immediate reflection, refraction and then synthesis of the modified envelopes in which the forms were first delivered.
That performance started with simple, soft, rippling notes punctuating the anticipatory silence of the audience. The music quickly became full, complex, and took a spatial form that was nearly corporeal. Two instruments - yet so full and complex that it felt as if one could see the sound and hold it. The notes lingered, and waited, until the next note had appeared and sometimes hung onto them like a guide.
Soon, those present found themselves immersed in a space where succinct musical themes caromed like waves of light in a hall of mirrors. A short tune would suddenly refract and expand as light that has been touched by a thousand mirrors, and bounce back onto the stage and spark the emission of the next wave. Its reflections would then reverberate and bounce between ever changing mirrors which would hold them captive for a moment, only to pass them to the next group of mirrors, as they captured the next wave of tunes and melodies. Each wave was thus transformed in its journey back.
This light, sometimes sharply focused, sometimes glowing diffusely, and other times sparkling like embers in a wind gust, or suddenly erupted like firework. The original spark of each piece would start a new trace and history, reflecting repeatedly between parallel mirrors, stationary and undulating mirrors, and inside a mirror tessellated dome. It fractured, then recombined, from multiple directions and returned to the source to instigate and stimulate another reflection of its new shape. While light remains light, unchanging in essence, no matter if it is reflected, refracted, and fractionally absorbed, and returns as light, it carries the imprint of reflections and recombinations it has experienced. It remains itself while carrying the story of its reflections and transformations, in color, brightness, and undulation.
The countless mirrors changed as each light burst bounced between them. They artist were both interchangeable light and mirror. Emanating and reflecting, reflecting and trapping. At each moment, notes separated, merged, and hit different mirrors, changed color and character and then in turn triggered the next emanation as a variation of itself. The mirrors made the light adjust to each every changing reflections with their unexpected formations.
The idea of light sources and the reflective and refractive environment are metaphors for these artists who creatively interact and reshape the forms that the other suggested. The ability to instantly recognize the moment's suggestions, and as modified by the other's "hall of mirrors" and then make playful or serious modification to it based on new "reflections" is the evolution these artists have provided to free improvisation.
Any verbal description falls short of expressing how the music of this concert constantly incorporated reflections of its own parts - reflection sent back from hidden mirrors in pulsed repetitions. Thus, Alizadeh and Khaladj reflected on the other's improvisations, adding layers of complexity.
The devices they use are their accumulated experiences, talent, and deep knowledge of music. They are masters of free improvisation because they can alter the "mirrors" in their spaces to be parallel, tessellated, undulating, or refracting based on the moment's demand. To choose the right mirrors and rearranging them is the art of creating the musical space of free improvisation at each instant. This work transcends cultural boundaries and makes traditional music accessible to those to whom it would remain unfamiliar. As light is universal, so is free improvisation.