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Dark Wing

Dark Wing is collaboration between percussionist/marimba player David Johnson and Persian percussionist/Ney player Houman Pourmehdi.  Joined by bassist Ivan Johnson they have created a new kind of improvising trio.  Inspired by their love for intimate improvisation, like one would find in a traditional jazz piano trio, with the percussion and flute sounds from Persian music, they have created a unique ensemble that plays oringinal music by David Johnson as well drawing from Persian composers such as Soleyman Vaseghi, Brazilian composer Egberto Gismonti, and folk songs from around the world.  Joined by Tar virtuoso Pirayeh Pourafar, their first album on Lian Records entitled “The Hidden Sacred” was called by Tom Schnabel from public radio station KCRW in Santa Monica, “…one of the most unusual and enjoyable records I’ve ever heard.”

 



From Steve Hochman, Los Angeles Times Popular Music Critic
On Public Radio KQED in San Francisco

“Dark Wing is the latest project to emerge from the Los Angeles based Lian Ensemble.  This gorgeous hypnotic album entitled “The Hidden Scared” teams two American musicians; marimba and vibraphone player David Johnson and his son bassist Ivan Johnson with Iranian born Houman Pourmedi on Persian percussion and Ney, a reed flute.  Pirayeh Pourafar, a virtuoso of the plucked string instrument, the Tar, also contributes to several pieces. 
Together they blend jazz and Persian traditions, but is it both or is it neither?  On such pieces as “Sezavar”, composed by Lian Ensemble member Soleyman Vaseghi, the answer would have to be yes to each question.  This is jazz and Persian but it is also something entirely new.  John Coltrane, Yusef Lateef, John McLaughlin and many others have created some bracing essential music by blending jazz with various Asian and middle eastern elements, but the chemistry of Dark Wing is distinctive and fresh in it’s fusion. 
At times the players switch roles, the marimba sliding into Iranian forms, the Tar taking on jazz flights.  The musical language is hardly limited to Persian and North American forms, but draws rewardingly from various other cultures and traditions, both in the original compositions by David Johnson and two pieces with Latin American sources.  The group offers a rich take on “Memoria y Fado” composed by Brazilian musician Egberto Gismonti.   “La Llorona” is a traditional Mexican folk song with tones recalling vibes great Gary Burton and jazz bass giant Charlie Haden.
A dedication in the liner notes says: “this music is for all those who seek and practice the principals of peace and human rights.”   Music itself, of course, cannot bring about those ideals, but Dark Wing is a wonderful example of how it can embody and celebrate them.”

 

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