ZAMAN 8 and Hafez Modir
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ZAMAN 8 and Hafez Modir


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"ZAMAN 8 & Hafez Modir"

Six Degrees recently released one of ZAMAN 8's songs on its Emerging Artists series, digital-only compilations. Their track, produced along with talented saxophonist Hafez Modir was one that caught my ear most clearly. It was such an unexpected fusion of jazz instrumentation with Middle Eastern and South Asian sounds that it's almost hard not to think this is the future of near Eastern jazz.

The sound isn't as frenetic as some modern jazz can be. The moods are laid back, the horns are played energetically, but mellow, and the sounds, sometimes brought from the American jazz world are blended seamlessly with those of the musician's Iranian roots. This completely instrumental music is worldly, but don't simply call it "world" music; it's more than that.

ZAMAN 8's first EP called "Suryaghati EP 1" is the first of a two part album being presented as two separate EP's. Though their style may change with the nature of their collaborations, when it comes to the work ZAMAN 8 have done with Modir, if you do any measure of exploration into the worlds of jazz and Middle Eastern music you really need to check them out.

- Properly Chilled

"ZAMAN 8 & Hafez Modir/Suryaghati EP"

ZAMAN 8 & HAFEZ MODIR/Suryaghati EP: World dance music with a South Asia vibe that encompasses everything including the kitchen sink, but does it with flair and style. Ostensibly dance music with a world beat edge that doesn’t shy away from jazz and classical Indian elements, any college kid worth their nose piercing should be digging this the next time a real left of center party fires up.

- Midwest Record

"Six Degrees Emerging Artists Sampler 1"

ZAMAN 8 & Hafez Modir have come up with a truly insteresting sound on "Surya". It combines lively jazz flute and sax with South Asian musical aesthetics and really comes across nicely. The percussion is based in the jazz style, as opposed to hip-hop, joined by brightly strummed guitar and some nice vocal chants. Hafez is a respected Iranian saxophonist and he clearly plays at ease here. There are some heavier percussive moments and great flute work to accompany the sax, which is played perfectly low-key by Hafez. Really, really nice sound. - Properly Chilled

"Curiouser & Curiouser": Global Beat April 2007"

By: Chris M. Slawecki

Another Six Degrees Emerging Artist based in San Francisco, the Zaman8 duo of Sanaz Ebriana and Dan Newman (each contributing programming and production skills, plus Ebriana on vocals and Newman on guitars) also seem to examine Middle Eastern and electronic music in mutual contexts.

Newman’s father was a part-time musician and part-time film producer who produced the extraordinary, extraterrestrial Sun Ra biopic Space is the Place. “We do have strong influences coming from jazz, in particular the exploratory power of improvisation, which we’re all deeply invested in,” Dan says. “We want our music to have that intensity of a great solo.”

Adding saxophone and flute by Iranian-American instrumentalist Hafez Modir makes the melodies on Suryaghati sound somehow more personally communicative, Modir’s wailing sax passages somehow more like jazz - the tense past future sound of Pharoah and ‘Trane contemplating deep outer-space except with no type of accompaniment that Sanders or Coltrane could ever hear or see.

“Ketu” opens with a strong flute melody line (on Sufi ney flute) that stretches and doubles back upon itself as the remaining music, including the quaint yet exotic sound of African thumb piano, swims underneath in liquid watercolor. Modir’s soprano in “Sukra” and the cavernous dub-style “Sani” moans and dances in sweet pained tones that would suggest Grover Washington Jr. or other soulful R&B saxophonists if presented in such a setting. - All About Jazz

"Suryaghati EP 2"

ZAMAN 8/Suryaghati ep 2: Multiculti world beat duo comes back with what otherwise would be the second half of an album if physical product was available. A wonderful set of genre hopping mixmastering that goes all the way around the world and back in a few tracks, sometimes within a track. Hard to pin down, this musical shapeshifter is a real Gasser for forward thinking world beat ears. - Midwest Record

"Monday's mp3: Zaman 8 Emerges"

Six Degrees Records has a track record of ambitious thinking and modern sensibilities. Among the artists they've shone a spotlight on are some enduring favorites: Bobi Cespedes, Issa Bagayogo, Cheb i Sabbah, Ojos de Brujo, and Trio Mocot... Yes, there's a pattern to these artists: they all combine traditional roots with elements of electronic or dance music.
Not only does Zaman 8 do that, but their newest tunes are part of a new digital-only strategy by Six Degrees. Yup, no physical CD to clutter up your place. Just those wee ones and zeros on your whateverPod, arranged in tasty order to bring you this sparse but satisfying musical blend. ...I like the subtle rhythms and bass that underlie the floating sax and flute lines. Think Mercan Dede in a jazz club. - SoundRoots Blog


Suryaghati EP 1 - Released January 16, 2007
Suryaghati EP 2 - TBR March 2007

To listen to stream samples:



The San Francisco-based world-electronic jazz duo, collaborating with Iranian-American sax master Hafez Modir, creates distinctive, genre-bending music that fits the digital music world's emphasis on immediacy and community. But at a time when much of today's global music scene is based on the pop model - built for speed and easily disposable - ZAMAN 8 draws on Persian and Indian classical traditions, jazz improvisation, African rhythms and modern dance grooves to create music that's eclectic, likable, and built to last.

"Much of what exists in our genre seems very momentary," says Sanaz Ebriani, the duo's Iranian-born singer and co-producer. Along with her partner, guitarist/programmer Dan Newman, she wanted to find a Persian word that reflected the group's desire to make something new out of music traditions that have endured for centuries. "ZAMAN means time, duration, era," she explains, "and the number 8 turned to its side is the infinity sign, so put time and infinity together and you get timelessness."

ZAMAN 8's digital-only releases are clearly a part of our time – dance music's ongoing love affair with Indian percussion helps shape the song "Surya," for example, and "Sukra" neatly mixes a jaunty Near Eastern rhythm on the hand drums with some highly processed drum programming. But on top of that, the group deploys an unusual array of keyboard and guitar sounds, vocals, and Hafez Modir's extraordinary solos. "We do have strong influences coming from jazz," says Dan Newman, "in particular the exploratory power of improvisation which we're all deeply invested in. We want our music to have that intensity of a great solo." The three musicians often build each track around a moment of inspiration that occurs during their improvisations. Newman likens it to hip hop, "where a track is built from the "break" - the highlight moment of a Parliament or James Brown track."

ZAMAN 8's first two digital EP releases come from a larger project called Suryaghati – a Sanskrit word that means "sundial" – which was conceived as a collection of nine tracks, based on the nine heavenly bodies of ancient Hindu cosmology. Suryaghati is a reflection of the constant motion of musical ideas across the globe – a musical sundial that tracks the shadows cast by African polyrhythms, hip-hop production, and the trance traditions of North Africa's Gnawa people and the modern dance clubs.

The inaugural tracks from ZAMAN 8 owe a lot to the Iranian-American sax player and composer Hafez Modir, who also plays the Middle Eastern ney flute, and has applied the techniques he learned on Arab and Asian reed instruments to the tenor sax. The result is a sound that is impossible to pin down, either to a time or a place. "The tone sometimes reminds me of a Hendrix solo," says Dan Newman. On both "Surya" and "Ketu," Modir's tenor sax wails like a North African oboe. It's a reflection of Modir's concept of "Chromodal Discourse," a musical process developed over years of study and which Ebriani says "allows the exchange of musical idioms without watering either down, or compromising the original music."

Instead of trying to fuse East and West, ZAMAN 8 follows the Chromodal Discourse model: "by looking at our particularities," Modir explains, "those things that distinguish us from one another, by appreciating that, you're able to appreciate large universalities that underline our humanity." Acknowledging that Persian, West African, Indian, and electronic music are all different traditions, ZAMAN 8 finds the common elements that let them create something original and organic. "Ketu," for instance, seamlessly blends the mystical, breathy sound of the Sufi ney flute with the African thumb piano and Modir's keening sax. All of it flowing over some bass and percussion programming that leaves no doubt what century this music is from. And "Sani" uses both live and programmed percussion and bass as the backing for some of Modir's most surprising and perhaps most traditionally "jazzy" improvs, again using the ney and the tenor sax.

Improvisation, which is common to American jazz and the traditions of Asia and Near East, is a key element in ZAMAN 8's production, and both Dan Newman and Sanaz Ebriani have strong – if unusual – histories with jazz. Dan Newman's father is a part-time jazz musician who actually produced the underground film "Space Is the Place," starring the late cosmic voyager/jazz legend known as Sun Ra. Dan sees that as a pivotal influence on his 6-year old self: "I was often on set during filming, taking in the majesty of the Arkestra (Sun Ra's band) and the cosmological aesthetics, concepts and vision of Sun Ra." In the 1990s, Newman studied Ghanaian drumming and jazz at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, where he met Hafez Modir, who became his mentor. Sanaz Ebriani, born in Tehran to a surrealist-painter father and a mother who was a singer, grew up hearing everything from Persian-Jewish chan