Emam & Friends
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Emam & Friends

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


"Review of Indian Dream"

"This virtual United Nations of an ensemble has created some of the freshest, most entertaining and accessible World Fusion music ever! A heady instrumental brew distinguished by elements of African, Eastern European, Jazz, Blues, Middle Eastern, and New Age. A must have!" - PJ Birosik - Awareness Magazine Jan, 95


"Review of Sacred Insanity"

Gently suggesting "World Peace through World Music", Eternal Music released Emam & Friends' Sacred Insanity. The only condition I sense is that Emam & Friends are (joyously) crazy about creating ecstatic and devotional music.
Classically trained tabla expert and percussionist Emam has augmented his original compositions with a worldly ensemble, including, among others, vocalist/guitarist Jillian Speer (who also penned several songs), pianist Tom Grant, cellist Moses Sedler, saxophonist George Brooks, and Gary Haggerty on Mandocello, oud, and violin.
Sacred Insanity is an uplifting, introspective fusion of jazz, rock and folk music with influences of Indian, Turkish, Spanish, and Eastern European cultures, and brings out many of the historical connections between them. There is nothing nuts about everyone getting along, if even only on a CD. - Dirty Linen Magazine - Aug/Sept 2000


"Review of Sacred Insanity"

"Sacred Insanity by Emam & Friends is an amazing stew of multi-ethnic instrumentalists and vocalists. The mandala on the cover is a visual indicator of the music - colorful, circular and in motion. Some great fusion drumming by Sivamani as well as Emam's tasty tabla and percussion." - David Licht - Modern Drummer (March 2000)


"Review of Sacred Insanity"

"Another fabulous fusion in world music comes from Emam & Friends on the new album Sacred Insanity, which blends contemporary acoustic music with styles from Iran, India, Europe and the U.S. using voice, percussion, acoustic guitar, cello, bansuri, oud, violin, drums, sax. Led by Emam on tabla, this outstanding group of musicians produces a set that can easily appeal to those weaned on pop music as world music aficionados.....the multilayered rhythms blend beautifully with the voice and melody instruments to form a satisfying whole that is far more than the sum of its parts. The music is thoroughly enjoyable as easy listening, yet offers the attentive person a wealth of subtle and richly embroidered sonic textures." - Dan Liss - Aquarius (Aug. 99)


"Review of Sacred Insanity"

"I really didn't know what to expect from Eternal Music's founder, Iranian composer Emam and a dozen of his friends on the World Beat album Sacred Insanity. If there was anything insane about the music, it was that I had never checked them out until now. I heard an incredible blend of World fusion, jazz, classical, Indian, and Turkish songs. Emam imported the mystery of the Mandala and combined prayers, dance music and chanting that revealed sadness, weakness, extraordinary strength and exultation in musical context. He also introduced a very talented young lady named Jillian Speers who sang and played her way into my heart.
All of the tracks featured traditional instruments of Eastern music such as the tabla, oud, flute and various percussion as well as piano, guitar, bass and sax. Speers plays nylon stringed guitar on most of the tracks and sings on several with a warm contralto and an experienced hand which is very surprising, as she is just twenty years young.
I enjoyed "Angels Among Us", a sweet New Age ballad dedicated to angels everywhere and another cut called "Gayatri" which uses an ancient Sanskrit prayer for structure. Both tracks feature Jillian Speers on vocals. I particularly liked a song called "The Rejected" which speaks about the plight of the underclass of India and how they are treated. It was melancholy to be sure, but it also gave insight into a world seldom seen by the West and reminded me that there are needy the world over.
The longest (14:48) and most impressive track is called "Dance of the Hermit" and caps off the album admirably centering on a character from the Tarot and sounds something like Dave Brubeck goes to India. Sacred Insanity was an emotional roller coaster ride for me and I absolutely reveled in it as it made my moods change. The myriad of genres that Emam put together made the CD sparkle." - Review by R.J. Lannan - Wind & Wire


"Review of Sacred Insanity"

"Spreading a message of world peace through world music, this and deliberately eclectic amalgam of people and musical heritages combines the most exciting elements from Indian, Turkish, Macedonian, Spanish and Eastern European folk idioms with jazz, rock and new age stylings.
The music ranges from traditional gypsy songs and ethereal musical mantras to swinging contemporary instrumentals and pop vocals.
What unites the selections on this unusual recording is the consummate artistry of the players who bring these exciting sounds to life. Many are familiar names, others will be new to you; but all add their own individual inspiration to some of the most listenable tracks available in a long time.
In brief, Emam is an Iranian percussionist/producer/composer who migrated to the States in 1974. He has trained and performed with the legendary Zakir Hussain, the Seattle Symphony and the original Frank Zappa musicians in addition to many tours with 'Emam & Friends'. Drummer Sivamani has shared the stage with Billy Cobham, Ustad Alla Rakha and others. Guitarist Matthew Montfort is leader of the legendary world fusion ensemble 'Ancient Future' and has recorded with Swampan Chaudhuri. Jillian Speer is a 20-year-old prodigy on classical guitar and sitar, as well as an acclaimed songwriter. Sax player George Brooks was a student of Pandit Pran Nath and has performed and recorded with Hariprasad Chaurasia as well as Zakir Hussain. Gary Haggerty is a superb oud, violin and mandocello player who has performed with ethnic ensembles in Ireland, France, Turkey and the Middle East for the last 20 years. Cellist Moses Sedler studied with Ali Akbar Khan and performed with East-West ensembles. Born in Nepal, 22-year old bansuri flute prodigy Manose has been teaching music for five years at Naropa Institute and in Kathmandu for U. of Wisconsin.
From this, you can tell that the musicianship is superlative and the players' dedication towards pushing back the boundaries of world fusion is complete. Simply put, when truly gifted performers gather together in the spirit of total creative freedom, magic happens. So forget the rules, forgot pop culture dictates, and simply groove to the divine madness that makes this music great." - PJ Birosik - nationally syndicated reviewer


"1995 Releases"

Iranian born tabla player, Emam, has just released two new compact discs on his world music label, Eternal Music. He uses the motto, 'World Peace through World Music' to describe the purpose of his label. Emam feels his mission in life is to create a bridge between the Moslem and Hindu religions and cultures through music. His first pilgrimage to India was in 1978 to meet his spiritual guru, Maha Avatar Babaji.

He began his tabla studies in 1977, and continued with Ustad Alla Rakha in 1979. Since 1982 he has been a student of Ustad Zakir Hussain. He says that he owes most of his musical possibilities to the relationship he has been fortunate to have with Zakir and Zakir's father. 'I have been blessed to not only study with Zakir but also to travel with him on his concert tours in India and the US'. This has given him a greater understanding of India's music and culture.

The two new compact discs released by Eternal Music, present two entirely different approaches to album production:

Instruments of Devotion is a collection of instrumental interpretations of devotional music from India, produced at the end of Emam's stay in India on an AIIS grant. The CD was recorded live in a studio in Delhi (April/93) direct to digital, with no overdubs. On this album he, and an ensemble of classically trained musicians (see ad for names) improvise on kirtan melodies in a light classical style. The recording draws on devotional melodies learned by Emam over the past seventeen years at the ashram of Babaji, in the Himalayan foothills. This ensemble will delight you with their unique instrumental presentation of vocal music. Absolutely refreshing and joyful!

Is This Real? represents an entirely different approach to music production: multi-tracking. This means the musicians, for the most part, did not perform together at the same time; a common practice for commercial music today. For example, the piece entitled, 'Brothers' features Zakir Hussain and his brother, Taufiq Qureshi. Zakir's tracks were recorded in Seattle in 1988. In 1992 Taufiq listened to those tracks in Bombay and played along with them. This musical collage presents recordings involving seventeen musicians, captured over an eight year period in six different cities (India & USA). The result is a fusion of time, space, as well as cultures.

'Is This Real' is a masterful tapestry of musical traditions woven together into an uplifting new sound. It creates a musical experience that transcends boundaries.

The wide variety of musicians as well as musical styles highlights this CD as an outstanding example of world fusion music. - India Currents - Dec/Jan 95


Discography

Desert Moon
Voices of the Goddess
Sacred Insanity
Instruments of Devotion
Indian Dream
Is This Real?
Navratri in Hairakhan

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Please visit our web site for many more music samples (mp3 files):
http://emam.us OR http://emamandfriends.com

Iranian born tabla player, composer, producer, Emam has been performing World Music since the early 80’s. He has been trained in North Indian Classical drumming by the grand masters of tabla: Ustad Alla Rakha and Ustad Zakir Hussain.

In 1991, Emam was awarded a scholarship for study of music in India by the American Institute of Indian Studies with funding from the Smithsonian Institute.

In performance and recording, Emam brings together world class musicians from around the globe. They present traditional music as well as original music inspired by their world travels.

Over the past twenty five years, Emam has performed with great artists from around the world, such as: Mickey Hart (drummer - USA), Zakir Hussain (tabla master - India), Habib Khan (sitar - India/USA), Michael Shrieve (original Santana drummer), Sikiru Adepoju (African drummer), Deepak Ram (South African bansuri player), Artur Dutkiewicz (Piano - Poland), Jahiar Azim Irani (santoor - Poland/Iran), Balkan Acoustic (Bulgarian music ensemble), Ancient Future (world fusion ensemble), Irina Mikhailova (singer - Russian), Rupak Kulkarni (bansuri - India), Manose (bansuri - Nepal), Piotr Baron (sax - Poland), Georges Lemmom (violin - the Middle East/USA), Tam Tam Project (world fusion ensemble - Poland), Tytus Wojnowicz (Oboe - Poland), Shabda Kahn (vocals - USA), Shafqat Ali Khan (Singer from Pakistan), George Brooks (sax - USA), Nina Hagen (Pop star - Germany), Latif Bolat (singer - Turkey/USA) and the Seattle Symphony with the original Frank Zappa Band.