on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2018 9 Jul

Mahsa Vahdat with SKRUK and Tord Gustavsen in SF

von: Brian Whistler Filed under: Blog | TB | 2 Comments



Saturday night’s performance of Iranian master singer Mahsa Vahdat with the Norwegian SKRUK choir and Tord Gustavsen (piano/arrangements,) was incredible. One of the more memorable concerts I have attended in recent years … or maybe ever.

The heart of this project is Mahsa Vahdat’s amazing voice, which melismatically keens, swoops and uulates, bringing out all the beauty, longing and nuance of the poetry of Hafiz and Rumi, (sung in Farsi – the choir sings in Norwegian.)

The concert also introduced me to two albums, both of which I purchased on the spot. The album that represents this project is SKRUK & Mahsa Vahdat, i vinens spiel (KKV label) and it’s available on most streaming sites and on CD. Besides Tord Gustavsen, ECM artist, bassist Matts Ellertson (Thomas Strønen, Mathias Eick etc) is on the album. There is also another album (Mahsa Vahdat, Tord Gustavsen and a percussionist,) called Traces of an Old Vineyard, (also KKV) which was also represented that evening when the choir left the stage and the trio performed pieces from that recording.

I bumped into Tord Gustavsen after the show. He told me there will be a new trio album in the fall and extensive touring, even a visit to Northern California. I am happy to hear of a new trio album; for all the other contexts I have heard and seen him in, I still love his trio albums best of all.

SKRUK also performed a cappella, including a mind blowingly beautiful Kyrie written and arranged by Gustavsen (unfortunately not yet recorded.) The choir surrounded the audience for that one. It truly felt like I had been transported to heaven. A transcendent musical evening.


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  1. Michael Engelbrecht:

    A Tord Gustavsen trio album seems less spectacular, but, to my own surprise, I slowly seem to start to like his music, at least I loved his last album on ECM, and the next one, is a good one, too, out at the end of August, called THE OTHER SIDE. And besides the piano he there also uses electronics in an interesting way.

  2. Uli Koch:

    Finally I found the time to listen to I Vinens Speil and I immediately caught you being deeply impressed, Brian! This is really mind-blowing extraordinary music where the voices of Mahsa Vahdat and SKRUK merging seamlessly into each other with impressing subtle arrangements. This is world music of the future. Thank you Brian for this inspiration!

    @Michael: listen, listen, listen!

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