It is a rather unusual journey: gathering musicians from different countries around Kurdish music, language and culture. This musical adventure is audacious and pioneer in multiple ways in times where the laws of politics and historical habits and cultural routines has always separated the kurds, including in festivals or record stores.
And yet, Kurdistan does exist by itself, when it comes to music. Through the fourteen million people spread across four countries (Iran, Iraq, Turket, Syria), four different political regimes and four very specific historical situations, there is one single language and one huge musical heritage in which common values have always outweighed particularities. And beyond all particularities, Kurdish people are passionate about music. In collective or private celebrations, in exceptional circumstances (the New Year -"Nowruz"- comes in first place), it is very common to sing, play and dance.
Nishtiman gathers Kurdish musicians from Iran, Turkey and Iraq. The director of the project and percussionist Hussein Zahawy gathered the band and commissioned Sohrab Pournazeri, (singer and tanbur/Kamanche player), to compose a highly original musical repertoire. The musicians are : singer Sara Eghlimi, singer and oud player Goran Kamil ; zorna, balaban and duduk player Ertan Tekin, and French Robin Vassy (Senegalese percussions) and doublebass player. They all are both rooted and opened musician, who have often explored adn embraced (in Europe or the Middle East) other musical expressions. Together, they cover a range of compositions that moves from one style to another ; sung in various kurdish dialects. "Geography and history have divided the Kurdish people, but it is also a numerous population with varied tastes and preferences, says Sohrab Pournazeri. The common root of all these styles expresses energy, and the spirit is dynamic. So we can find links despite the differences." Thus, we can hear dance tunes recalling the simplicity of agrarian life, tanbours rhythms diving further into the refinement of Sufi brotherhoods, traditional elements and the twenty-first century weddings... "This music could not have been played like this thirty years ago, said Hussein Zahawy. A new generation is adding something new to the tradition, without erasing any part from it. "
The musicians of the project don't say it themselves, but we can't deny it : their approach is of historic significance. Ten years ago, playing Kurdish music was still banned in many Turkish cities, and the music that was played before often ended up as a political tool for nationalist groups. Whilst Nishtiman has taken the liberty of playing the music of the Kurds, the band also undertakes to bring this music back to its core values : "Kurdish music is based on the human being, not on a nationality, a religion or a history, underlines the musical director of the band. This is a music of everyday experience, a music anterior to nationalism. "
Nishtiman is also music pointed at an opening towards the world. The presence of a jazz bass rather reflects the needs of a music that would have missed such bass frequencies otherwise.. And the black African drums and percussion played by a European musician bring the unique colors and textures that create a paradoxical binding between the pieces of music in which they operate.
Live line -up is :
Hussein Zahawy: Artistic direction, Daf, Darbouka, Dayera
Sohrab Pouznazeri: Compositions, Vocals, Kamanche, Tanbur
Sara Eghlimi: Vocals
Leila Renault: Double bass
Robin Vassy: Percussions
Goran Kamil: Ud
Ertan Tekin: Zorna, Balaban, Duduck
Batmane Batmane, Live Performance, Ghasam,
Holland Festival, Leylo em hatin, Teaser, I owe you,
Awiju, Nadia - Tom La Bira, Sohrab Pournazeri (10
videos), I owe you (acoustic session), Peshmerga,
Ensemble Kurde, Kurdistan, Urmiye Urmiye, Aziz HD,
Weysi and All Austria.