"Fire of Passion"

Kurdish Tanbur Music of Iran


1- Introduction (prayer)
2- Songs of Nostalgia
3- Magham Allahwaisy and Hejrani
4- Sema of Tanbur
5- Continuation of Magham Allahwaisy
6- Intimate Dialog
7- The Caravan
8- Magham of Ghatar and Tarz
9- Sejar
10- Gallop
Total Time: 42:74


“Teheran-based Ali-Akbar Moradi is considered a virtuoso on the tanbur, a plucked string instrument with a pear–shaped belly fashioned from a single piece of mulberry wood. The tanbur has always been considered a sacred instrument associated with the Kurdish Sufi music of Western Iran. Moradi is accompanied by Pejman Hadadi, the finest Irnanian percussionist living in America, who plays the daf, a large frame drum covered with goat skin with rows of metal rings jangling about on the inside. He also plays the tombak, which is similar to a dumbek but made also from solid mulberry wood. Its warm tone complements the rapid strumming and plucking on the banjo-like tanbur. This recording was made during a 1999 U.S. tour and, in a word, these duets are extraordinary. Having performed together only three times previously, Moradi and Hadadi play entirely improvisational Kurdish music on this date, presenting their amazing skills as one triumphant spirit. Together they soar into wild molten riffs, and then return to earth to deppict the sad reality of a people without an independent state of their own.”

William Bloomhuff, “Rhythm”, May 2001


Ali Akbar Moradi
Born in Kermanshah in 1957, Ali Akbar Moradi is the leading tanbur player from Kurdistan, Iran. He began playing tanbur at the age of six. His grandfather loved the tanbur and encouraged the young Moradi to play. Teachers would come to their house to give lessons on the tanbur, and by the time Moradi was 10, he was considered an accomplished tanbur player. Throughout his youth he studied with various masters of the instrument until he was accepted as a virtuoso. From 12 years on Moradi sought and took lessons from the grand masters of Kurdish tanbur: Sayyed Veli Husseini, Sayyed Mirza Khafashyan, Sayyed Mahmoud Alevi, Allahmouradi Hamedi, who were also all vocalists. By the age of 30 he completed learning the entire 72 maghams played on tanbur. Mr. Moradi's professional career began in 1971 as a member of the first tanbur ensemble in Kermanshah. He has won many awards including two honorary diplomas at major music festivals in Iran. Moradi has performed as a soloist and with ensembles in festivals throughout the world. He has a unique style that sets him apart from other players of this instrument .

Presently Mr. Moradi is preparing the complete 72 maghams of Kurdish tanbur for teaching purposes. He teaches tanbur in Kermanshah and every two weeks he travels to Tehran to give lessons. In February 1999, Mr. Moradi toured US for concerts and lectures, and this recording was made during his visit of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Kurdish people live in Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and Afghanistan, and in many countries of Europe. They do not have an independent state of their own, although they number around 30 million. Present recording is entirely improvisational Kurdish music based on classical Kurdish Maghams. Ali Akbar Moradi and Pejman Hadadi had played together three times before this studio recording, which was done on February 22nd. 1999, Richmond California, in one sitting. I want to thank World Music Institute, NY, and Isabel Soffer for inviting Mr. Moradi to US and making this CD production possible.

Kutay Derin Kugay

“... in a word, these duets are extraordinary. ... Moradi and Hadadi play entirely improvisational Kurdish music on this date, presenting their amazing skills as one triumphant spirit. Together they soar into wild molten riffs, and then return to earth to deppict the sad reality of a people without an independent state of their own.
”William Bloomhuff, “Rhythm”, May 2001


Dirty Linen Magazine

Concert Reviews

Ali Akbar Moradi and Pejman Hadadi
Saint John's Presbyterian Church, Berkeley, CA
January 27, 2001

It's too bad filmmakers didn't record the moment, because something unusual and wonderful happened when Ali Akbar Moradi and Pejman Hadadi performed in Berkeley: Members of the audience got up from their seats and danced in circles with friends and strangers, inspired by Moradi's legendary tanbur playing and Hadadi's deft drumming. Iranian concerts of traditional music seldom erupt into such spontaneous celebration, but this was no ordinary event. Moradi, who lives in the Kurdistan region of Iran, was appearing in the United States for the first time in two years — an absence exacerbated when American consular officials held up his application to return to the West. Two San Francisco-area performances were canceled before Moradi's passport problems were finally resolved. By the time he took the stage in Berkeley, dressed in traditional Kurdish clothing and bowing his head in acknowledgement, the audience was bursting to hear the music that has made Moradi an international favorite. Moradi didn't disappoint. From his position sitting cross-legged on a lush carpet, Moradi plucked his wooden instrument with verve and emotion, accompanied on daf and tombak by Hadadi, a Tehran-born musician who now lives in California. Moradi is an intense figure. During much of the concert he stared at his instrument in rapt concentration, looking up when he sang or coordinated rhythms with Hadadi, with whom he has played many times. Their collaboration on the CD Fire of Passion [7/8 Music Productions] captures the full range of Hadadi's music, which can be mystical and contemplative but also stirring and celebratory. In Berkeley, it was Hadadi's more frenetic songs that inspired men and women to race around in a group and — when it was over — applaud wildly. A Presbyterian house of worship may seem an odd place for this kind of embrace between audience and musician, but Saint John's was a perfect venue for Moradi's sacred tunes. The church has hosted a disparate range of performers — from didgeridoo artist Stephen Kent to Hawaiian slack key guitarist George Kahumoku, Jr. — and its location in Berkeley, near the University of California and famous Telegraph Avenue, guaranteed that young world-music fans would join families of Kurdish and Iranian descent in attending Moradi's concert. So relaxed and intimate was the setting that Moradi and Hadadi left their instruments on stage during the break between the first and second set, letting people in the audience practically touch the beautiful tanburs and drums that were brought to Berkeley. "It doesn't get too much better than this," a concert goer said at the end of the nearly two-hour performance. Those words spoke volumes about the night when Ali Akbar Moradi and his tanbur — an ancient instrument associated with Kurdish Sufi music of Western Iran — made a triumphant appearance before an adoring crowd in Berkeley. Said Moradi just before taking the stage: "I am here, finally." The audience laughed and roared, Moradi and Hadadi sat down, and a long-delayed night of rapturous music began in earnest. Better late than never.
Jonathan Curiel (San Francisco)

©2003    7/8 Music Productions