Musical Performance: Andrew Shantz: Colors of Tarab

Fri, April 3, 2009 9:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

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Andrew Shantz - vocal, harmonium, electronics
Zafer Tawil - 'oud, violin
Amir El Saffar - trumpet, santoor
Dan Weiss - Indian tabla, percussion

$20/$15 students with valid I.D.

This concert by Alwan artist-in-residence Andrew Shantz features traditional pieces and new compositions in the first installment of Shantz’s investigation into music’s physical effects on the listener, specifically the concepts of tarab in Arabic music and rasa in Indian music.


Andrew Shantz

Andrew Shantz is an emerging keyboard improviser and vocalist with a background in jazz and an appetite for musical exploration. While earning his undergraduate degree in Jazz Studies in 2001 he began developing an ear for Arabic rhythm and Maqamat through studies with friends and collaborators including Tareq Abboushi, Taoufiq Ben Amor, Zafer Tawil and George Ziadeh. In July, 2006 Andrew lead a jazz quintet for a tour of Yemen arranged by the American Embassy in Sanaa. The group gave concerts in Sanaa and Aden and participated in a workshop with Yemeni musicians. In January, 2008 Andrew traveled to Kolkata, India and began studies of Hindustani classical voice with Smt. Madhumita Saha and rhythm with Pdt. Samar Saha and was invited to perform with his teachers for concerts in Toronto and at Alwan in August, 2008. Currently he is Artist-in-Residence at Alwan and presents this concert – featuring traditional pieces and new compositions - as the first installment of his investigation into music’s physical effects on the listener, specifically the concepts of tarab in Arabic music and rasa in Indian music.

Zafer Tawil

Zafer Tawil is an accomplished Palestinian musician based in New York City. He is a virtuoso on oud, violin, and qanun, and a master of Arabic percussion. Zafer performs in concerts, clubs, and at private events, and holds workshops in oud technique, and in Arabic music theory – across the US and in the Middle East, including a recent performance at Zankel Hall with Simon Shaheen. Zafer was featured in Jonathan Demme's acclaimed 2008 film Rachel Getting Married as a composer and performer. Zafer is constantly exploring the boundaries of Arabic music, and has worked on many collaboration concerts involving classical Indian and Persian music and Jazz fusion.

Amir El Saffar

Amir ElSaffar put his career as a jazz trumpeter on hold in 2002 to travel to Iraq and explore the music of his ancestry, the Iraqi maqam. ElSaffar, who was born in the US in 1977 to an Iraqi father and an American mother, was already an accomplished trumpeter, having performed with many esteemed jazz and classical artists and winning several international competitions. He spent several years traveling in Iraq, throughout the Middle East and in Europe, where he encountered masters of the Iraqi maqam, such as Hamid al-Saadi, Baher al-Rajab, and Farida Mohammed Ali and her ensemble, as well as masters of various other Arabic musical styles. From these teachers, Amir learned to sing the maqam and to play the santoor, a 96-string hammered-dulcimer that is native to Iraq, and quickly mastered a significant portion of the maqam repertoire. In 2005, Amir joined forces with his sister, Dena El Saffar, and her husband, Tim Moore, and formed Safaafir, the only ensemble in the US that performs the maqam in its traditional format. Hamid al-Saadi, Amir's teacher, who is one of the leading maqam singers in Iraq, regards Amir as one of the important carriers of this tradition in his generation, and has said "Amir is a great addition to the maqam…he is preserving the true essence of this music."

In 2006, upon receiving commissions from the Painted Bride Arts Center in Philadelphia and from the Festival of New Trumpet Music (FONT), ElSaffar composed Two Rivers, a suite that invokes Iraqi musical traditions and frames them in a modern Jazz setting. His 2007 Pi Recordings release, Two Rivers, was described by All About Jazz as "a stirring example of the creative possibilities of international jazz in the 21st century," and by the Philadelphia Inquirer as "hypnotic and arresting." It appeared on the Boston Globe's Top 10, Philadelphia City Paper's top Jazz releases, and was selected by the Village Voice critic's poll as the runner-up Debut jazz release of 2007.

Dan Weiss

Dan Weiss started playing the drums at the age of 6, studying with Jeff Krause and with Jamey Haddad on frame drum. He has performed and or recorded with David Binney, Lee Konitz, Dave Liebman, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Vijay Iyer, Miguel Zenon, Wayne Krantz, Kenny Werner, Ritchie Beirach, Ben Monder, Uri Caine, Village Vanguard Orchestra, Ravi Coltrane and many others. He has been touring Europe and North America extensively for the past nine years with many different projects. He has also played in South America and Asia and has recorded for Omnitone, Fresh Sound/New Talent, Arabesque, Pi, Criss Cross, Between The Lines, Act, Hat Hut, and Auand record labels.

Weiss has been studying tabla for the last nine years exclusively under the guidance of his guru Pandit Samir Chatterjee. He has performed classical Indian music in India and the U.S. with Ramesh Mishra, Mandira Lahiri, Subra Guha, Anoushka Shankar, Joyas Biswas, K.V. Mahabala and Steve Gorn. He has also performed in recitals with his teacher in Kolkatta, India.

Weiss has two recordings under his own name: a solo recording of traditional tabla repertoire adapted to the drumset in a classical manner, and his most recent recording, a trio CD which includes Jacob Sacks on piano and Thomas Morgan on bass, featuring his own compositions. He has contributed articles to Modern Drummer dealing with Indian rhythm and its applicability to western contexts. Dan's self-published a book is entitled "Tintal Drumset Trancriptions." He has given clinics all over the United States as well as Canada and Europe and has a loyal base of students in the New York City area.

Last updated: 2009-03-24 01:56:07

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