Pouya Mahmoodi has been forging a new path for Iranian music, weaving together the seemingly disparate threads of Persian classical tradition and rock, jazz, and blues. Mahmoodiâ€™s debut solo album Mehr showcases his virtuosic interweaving of musical worlds, drawing on elements that make Iran â€™s music unique. It also features the unmistakable work of Billy Cobham, co-founder of the Mahavishnu Orchestra and legendary jazz and rock drummer, on two tracks.
Born in Tehran in 1973, Mahmoodi was introduced to the acoustic guitar by his music-loving father at age 10. From his very first lessons, Mahmoodi began to dip into various global traditions, learning to play a Russian gypsy ballad or to vamp on a beloved boogie-woogie riff. It wasnâ€™t long before the young Mahmoodi was raiding his fatherâ€™s Western rock and pop records collected before the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple rocked the budding guitaristâ€™s world. â€œI fell in love with the sound of electric guitar in their music and the energy they gave me made me dance,â€ Mahmoodi explains. He soon picked up the electric guitar himself.
Pouya Mahmoodi plays classical and electric guitars , 10 string guitar , Iranian traditional string instruments SETAR and TANBOOR.
"Mehr" Feb 19 , 2008
The opening track of the new album , MEHR is featured on Global Rhythm's aug/sep CD.
The Song Me Va To and Halghe have been played on Radio-Canada:Musiques diffusÃ©es - Espace musique
AMG album Review - Mehr
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Rating : 4 stars Iranian guitarist Pouya Mahmoodi put his music online and found an early fan in ...Rating : 4 stars
Iranian guitarist Pouya Mahmoodi put his music online and found an early fan in drummer Billy Cobham, who ended up contributing work to two tracks here, including the stunning opener, "Si Pareh," where Mahmoodi puts a tune to words by legendary Persian poet Rumi. It's a marvelous piece of work that easily straddles genres â€” a little soft rock, some singer/songwriter, a hint of jazz, and a brief guitar solo that could be a low-volume Jimmy Page, all with a high level of intensity and lyricism (and the kind of guitar playing that would have lesser mortals chopping off their wrists). In a way it sums up the entire disc, where Mahmoodi mixes his Iranian roots with different Western styles (predominantly jazz, but also some blues) to create a loving, melodic hybrid that manages to sound both familiar and exotic. He has a good enough band, and the programming is used with a light touch (he's also a reasonable, if not scintillating, singer). Above all, it's the guitar work that captures the ear â€” light, tasty, and with a sense of roots and adventure. Apart from the opener, the highlight may well be "Me Va To," a Middle Eastern blues that seems to owe more to West Africa than it does to America, but with enough modal tinkering to keep things nicely off balance. Mehr marks the debut of a major talent.
Financial Times Album review - Mehr
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Pouya Mahmoodi Mehr Faryaad ***** In post-revolutionary Tehran, Deep Purple and Led Zeppe...
In post-revolutionary Tehran, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin sounded insurrectionary. Pouya Mahmoodi, an Iranian guitarist, fell in love with the 1970s through his father's illicit record collection; now, on Mehr , he brings it all back home. The album fuses Rumi with progressive rock, lyrical piano passages meld into Iranian violins, underscored with complex polyrhythms derived from East African zaar rituals. Billy Cobham of the Mahavishnu Orchestra drums on a couple of tracks, including the wonderful "Si Pareh".
Album Review - Mehr
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Rating: 4 "MEHR," Pouya Mahmoodi (Faryaad) So much goes wrong so often when traditional worl...Rating: 4
"MEHR," Pouya Mahmoodi (Faryaad)
So much goes wrong so often when traditional world music is melded with current Western styles, it's a wonder anyone bothers to do it. The results are frequently awkward -- contemporary with a cornball twist or classic with a gimmicky "update."
Yet Tehran native Pouya Mahmoodi achieves rare balance on his new "Mehr" as he merges traditional Iranian folk (specifically a melancholic type known as zaar) with jazz, blues and rock. He achieves an elegant sound that is Western-friendly but doesn't seem to be an obvious sellout of his native culture.
Mahmoodi excels on several fronts -- as an innovative composer of textured music with complicated time signatures, as a deft guitarist with a mesmerizing mastery of the instrument in both acoustic and electric formats, and as a singer who conveys searing soul even if his language is incomprehensible to the listener.
His brooding vocals express the words of 13th century Persian poet Rumi on opening cut "Si Pareh," yet the string-and-keyboard foundation plus a guest appearance by jazz fusion drummer Billy Cobham establish a vividly modern context.
As the fluid release rolls on, the vibe is generally mellow: "Dingomaro" and "Noban" are meditative dreamscapes, Mahmoodi saunters through a breezy "Sare Koohe Boland" with pretty inflections and brushed rhythm suitable for an upscale cocktail lounge, and the performer achieves a regal, though wholly accessible, finale in "Tan E Bisheh."
Still, Mahmoodi finds ways to escalate the tension -- sending "Niayesh" into an up-tempo bent, emotionally arcing his vocals on the weirdly Gothic "Bamdad" and hitching into swampy blues electricity on "Me Va To" -- to complement the complexity of his engaging sound.
All in all, Mahmoodi is a music geek with a respect for the art form and the talent to advance it.
(Contact Chuck Campbell of The Knoxville News Sentinel in Tennessee at www.knoxnews.com.)
Songlines Pod Cast
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Iranian Blues : Maybe not what you would expect
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Given the dubious clarity of global news coverage, it would be excusable if many people assumed that...Given the dubious clarity of global news coverage, it would be excusable if many people assumed that the climate for music in Baghdad (as heard on a recent National Public Radio piece about Iraqi folk musicians), and in Kabul (as seen in video pieces about female tabla player Suphula's groundbreaking 2005 appearances in Afghanistan). They might be a bit surprised, then, to hear the music of Pouya Mahmoodi. Iranian blues? Persian fusion? Those terms are as good as any for the selections you can sample on the Sonicbids site for Mahmoodi linked above and for the other tracks e-mailed to Around the World by Hamed Derakhshan, the Tehran entrepreneur who is backing and releasing Mahmoodi's current projects.
Whatever it might be called, the blending is effective enough that it has picked up a decent following thanks to some limited touring in Switzerland, with one impressed fan being no less than jazz-rock drummer Billy Cobham, co-founder of the pioneering Mahavishnu Orchestra. Cobham, who lives in Bern, offered to play on a couple of Mahmoodi's new tracks after being introduced to the music by a mutual friend. Derakhshan explains that this is the result of more than a decade of work by guitarist Mahmoodi to create a distinctive blend of traditional Iranian and Western styles -- but not in the sense of Iranian legend GooGoosh's slick pop, or even the cross-cultural ambient hybrids of the remarkable American-based, Iran-born singer Azam Ali in her solo albums and work with the groups Vas and Niyaz.
"He started playing guitar when he was very young, learning from his father -- and then he picked up the electric guitar and mastered blues and rock," says Derakhshan of Mahmoodi, 31, who previously worked at this goal with the band Barad, which put out an album four years ago on the Iran-based Hermes Records label. "In the meantime, because of his love for Iranian traditional and folk music, he studied ancient folk tunes, specifically those on wind instruments, and tried to play them on electric guitar. That was his first attempt to fuse Iranian music with Western styles, which led to a much wider fusion, created in his guitar-playing style as well as his singing and songwriting."
Now the trick is getting the music to people. "The music scene in Iran is almost nonexistent," Derakhshan says. "There are very few shows allowed to be played. Traditional music has easier times, but in general live music is rare. So musicians like Pouya cannot really play." He adds that despite the lack of live music, Western sounds are very popular in Iran -- hip-hop and rock in particular, mostly accessed through illegal downloading, all fueling a hunger for more. "I can guarantee that if Metallica came to Tehran, they will fill the 100,000-seat Azadi soccer stadium at least five times," he says. For his enterprise, though, building an audience is quite challenging. No live shows means no following, which makes it hard to get distribution for recordings or bookings for shows in other countries.
Derakhshan, though, is committed to doing all he can to get Mahmoodi's music out. However, his background is not in music but in the production and export of handmade Iranian carpets. But that has given him extensive experience in international business, and he believes he can apply his knowledge and skills to distributing and promoting music. To that end, he has started a new label, Faryaad, with hopes to find European and American distribution through an established record company. Mahmoodi's album, 'Mehr,' will be the label's first release, with plans to follow that with what he describes as a "chill-out/lounge" album, a world fusion project with production from Cobham and -- the one he's looking forward to the most -- an "Iranian hard-rock/metal project," all also featuring Mahmoodi.
He believes, rightfully, that the very fact that this music is being made in Iran is worthy of attention, but he doesn't want to sell it on that basis. "What we don't want to do is exploit the political situation of Iran to get attention," he says. "We believe the music should be good enough to get enough attention."
The typical set list usually is made of a few songs from the new album and improvisations with TANBOOR , SETAR and the 10string guitar.