Conceptualized and led by Kamran Hooshmand, 1001 Nights Orchestra has entranced Austin with the music and culture of the Middle East since the late 1980's. A member of the first Middle Eastern Ensemble at the University of Texas, Kamran began hosting a Middle Eastern music gathering in 1987 called 1001 Nights at a small acoustic venue in Austin called Chicago House. In the beginning, the music consisted of almost all Persian and Iranian folk and acoustic pop music. As more musicians were invited to perform, these evenings became known as a monthly Middle Eastern open mike series called Mahfel or "festive gathering". These gatherings became very popular, often filling the club to capacity.
From this emerged the musical experience called 1001 Nights. The group's original repertoire has expanded to include songs that range from Southwest Asia and the Caucuses in the East to the shores of the Mediterranean in the West, as well as many original compositions. The group's size has also changed throughout the years ranging from a ten-piece orchestra on special occasions to the present number of four musicians at its core. Guest musicians are often invited to join for special events.
Each member of the group brings his/her own flavor and expertise to the band. Kamran Hooshmand brings the sounds of his native Iran and Persian music with the oud, guitar, rabab, santour, saz, and vocals; Ken Maranian's playing marks a distinctive sound from Armenia and the Caucuses on the clarinet, zurna, and duduk; Don Weeda brings in Eastern European and Balkan flavors on the accordion; and Lauren Checchio and Anne Alexander add the beats with her dumbek, darabukkah, riqq, zils, dijiridoo, castanets, dafs and various other percussion instruments.
The Orchestra has had the honor of hosting world renowned acts such as the Turkish gypsy group Burhan Ocal & the Istanbul Oriental Ensemble, and the Armenian multi-instrumentalist John Vartan. Perhaps the highlight of the group's performances has been their live production of an original score to the 1924 silent classic film, "The Thief of Bagdad."
Kamran Hooshmand: oud, cumbus ("jumbush"), santur, guitar, robab, saz, vocals
Don Weeda: accordion, keyboards
Ken Maranian: clarinet
Anne Alexander: Davul, zils, darabukkah, percussion
On special occasions, we are joined by one or more of our collaborating musicians.
Mark Rubin: bass
Lisa Schneider: violin
Shana Norton: harp
Jay Whitley: percussion
Music from the Middle East & Beyond, 2002, Kamooli Recordings
Ojala, World Music sung in Persian and Spanish, 2001, Pardiso Records
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Phases and Stages Texas Platters BY DAVID LYNCH 1001 Nights Orchestra Music From the Middle ...Phases and Stages
BY DAVID LYNCH
1001 Nights Orchestra
Music From the Middle East & Beyond (Kamooli) As the title implies, Music From the Middle East & Beyond travels a broad cultural tack. The Austin-based international all-star collective, led by Iranian singer/multi-instrumentalist Kamran Hooshmand, features such stalwart musicians as accordionist Don Weeda (Slavadillo), Lauren Dealbert (Divahn), Armenian clarinetist Ken Maranian, Lisa Schneider, and bassist Mark Rubin (Rubinchik's Yiddische Band). And Hooshmand's no slouch either, playing no fewer than eight instruments, including the Persian hammered dulcimer, nylon-string guitar, and Afghan lute. No surprise then that the Orchestra has so many varied accomplishments, including headlining ACC's International Festival, rousing concerts in venues like Bertram Hall, several live radio performances, and singular events like their award-winning original score to the silent film great, The Thief of Bagdad. Picture this album, therefore, as a detailed, rich-color snapshot of the band's air sculpture to date. And an exceptional one at that. The lyrics convey emotion effortlessly, but instrumental melodies and rhythms have to work harder to break through our oftentimes slack-jawed circadian existence. But when they do -- from an anonymous Black Sea tune and a wandering Jewish composition to an Afghani folk melody and Greek rave-up -- they affect just a little more, go a bit deeper. So much so that song titles don't have to be referenced. It's that good.
Best of Austin
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Best Single Silent Film Revival Thief of Baghdad with Kamran Hooshmand & the 1001 Nights Orchestr...Best Single Silent Film Revival
Thief of Baghdad with Kamran Hooshmand & the 1001 Nights Orchestra
It's hard to pick one standout from such an impressive field of performances, but this show deserves special praise. The sublime score was performed by 10 musicians playing over 25 different instruments. Kamran Hooshmand's unerring selection and arrangement of Middle Eastern songs displayed a perfect understanding of how silent film music has traditionally been used to express mood, situation, and personality. Even minor characters like the Indian Prince, the Mongol Prince, and the Persian Prince had his own theme song, appropriate to each region of origin. Bravo to all for this transcendent evening's entertainment.
The Sound and the Fury
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The Sound and the Fury By Jerry Renshaw Excerpt from the Austin Chronicle The Alamo Drafthouse'...The Sound and the Fury
By Jerry Renshaw
Excerpt from the Austin Chronicle
The Alamo Drafthouse's Silent Film Series
Issue September 10, 1999
While Forsyth and The General was perhaps the funniest teaming of the series, Kamran Hooshmand & the 1001 Nights Orchestra performing alongside Thief of Bagdad was the most exotic. The film's plot involves a princess being courted by three suitors -- a Chinese man, a Persian, and an Indian envoy -- while Douglas Fairbanks plays a swashbuckling con artist who naturally captures the prize. Given the Austin-based orchestra's instrumentation -- zither, hammered dulcimer, Persian drum, sitar, and other indigenous instruments -- 1001 Nights' tightly scripted performance came up with themes that corresponded to the nationality of each suitor, while Fairbanks (of course) had his own heroic theme music. The results were so successful that the 1001 Nights Orchestra has considered taking the show on the road, especially considering the amount of time that was devoted to putting the score together.
The Thief of Bagdad Review
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NOW, for the second perfect thing about the screening tonight. Kamran Hooshmand and the 1001 NIGHTS...NOW, for the second perfect thing about the screening tonight.
Kamran Hooshmand and the 1001 NIGHTS ORCHESTRA.
They should go on tour with this movie. They'd sell out Los Angeles and New York for weeks after the initial reviews. The score they created was immense... so much so that the audience began clapping to the beat and getting really really really into it by the end of the film.
What was so special'
Well.... (Big Breath) First off, the instrument selection included the following: Barbat ('ud), Saz (baglama), Santur (hammered dulcimer), Spanish Guitar, Daf (Kurdish frame drum), Riqq (Middle Eastern tambourine), Darabukkah (ceramic drum), zarb (tonbak) (a Persian Drum), tabla (Indian drum pair), Qanun (a Middle Eastern zither with 72 strings), Accordian, Acoustic Bass, Guitar, Clarinet, Zurna, Duduk (reed instruments), Violin, Indian Sitar, Asian/Far Eastern percussion, gongs, wind instruments, classical oboe, medieval oboe and wooden flute. And there were more. 10 fantastic musicians played these instruments to create a unique and fantastical sound to bathe the film with.
The score incorporated: Iranian folk song melodies, a Sephardic song, Persian folk song melodies, Greek/Macedonian folk tunes, Arabic tunes, Arab/Andalucian music, Egyptian music, Armenian folk music, Turkish folk music.... as well as original music written by Kamran Hooshmand and.... an arabic version of the (Pulp Fiction-made famous) tune... MISERLU.
All of this music and film created a thrill, a charge that lit through the audience. Both young and old were cheering, clapping and excitedly waiting for the next moment as if their life depended upon it.
Beside me was an Eleven year old boy, that by the end of the film had saucers for eyes, he was bouncing upon his knees in his chair sporadically clapping and looking at his mother with glee splashed upon his face.
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1001 NIGHTS Flipnotics, Aug 26, 1997 Screw that worthless unamplified MTV crap. There's no suc...1001 NIGHTS
Flipnotics, Aug 26, 1997
Screw that worthless unamplified MTV crap. There's no such thing as decent acoustic music on a show that's designed to hawk yet another citrus corn syrup drink or the latest overpriced athletic shoe. The real shit is found in places like Flipnotics. Can you imagine a band on MTV Unplugged asking the audience if they can hear the instruments? Me neither, but that's exactly what happened at this show by 1001 Nights, a local quartet that plays complex, soul-satisfying Middle Eastern music. Lead by the visibly talented multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Kamran Hooshand, 1001 Nights wasn't notable solely as a novelty (you only need one hand to count the local groups who play Middle Eastern-flavored world music), but rather because this group did a first-class job interpreting standards of the style (Ashkabad) and penning original tunes ("Gypsy Nights"). Like well-played Celtic songs, these tunes are deeply mournful and moving, yet simultaneously uplifting and toe-tapping; the only electricity on stage came from the band's playing, not their amplifiers. 1001 Nights deftly demonstrated why hewn wood, stretched hide, and taunt strings are more than enough to entertain and inspire. The group's fine performance was undoubtably inspired by an engaged and enthused crowd, who shouted out requests, clapped along, and sang an occasional chorus. In fact, the band's two sets felt more like an open rehearsal than a gig. The downside of this spontaneity was some uncertainty when it came time to choose the next song to play, but the great cultural and physical distance the band traveled as they navigated from Lebanese standards to Persian love songs to Sufi devotional songs to Arabic pop tunes probably had a lot to do with this. While 1001 Nights are well-versed in the history of Middle Eastern music, they also add their imaginative stamp, such as using North Indian tabla drums in an Afghani song. This is how all creative forms develop and improve: by artists who are proficient in tradition and willing to experiment -- not by media-darling posers eager to capitalize on the next musical packaging trend. -- David Lynch
We can customize our sets to any length. A typical set would be about 45 minutes long with a sampling of music from various regions of the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
Our repertoire is pulled from an archive of over 100 folk, classical and pop tunes of the region including Persian, Arabic, Armenian, Turkish, Greek, Macedonian and Afghan songs.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.