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Mohammad Reza Mortazavi – Ritme Jaavdanegi

Mohammad Reza Mortazavi is a virtuoso percussionist known for playing traditional Persian instruments such as the tombak and daf. After developing more than thirty new striking techniques and progressing to be one of the most prominent players in Iran, Mortazavi travelled to Germany, eventually settling in Berlin to record and perform regular concerts the world over. His acclaimed performances have taken in venues such as Berlin Philharmonie and Sydney Opera House. In recent years, he has been embraced by the experimental electronic music community, collaborating with Burnt Friedman, Fis and Mark Fell.

Ritme Jaavdanegi is Mortazavi’s sixth LP, and his first one available on vinyl. The album came together from recordings made in Berlin in June 2019, inspired by Mortazavi’s vivid reminiscence about profound experiences he had listening to music as a child. As he drifted in this time slipping reverie, the phrase ‘ritme jaavdanegi’ or ‘rhythm of eternity’ came to mind, and he found the phrase itself to match the 11/8 metre he was striving for. As such, all eight pieces on this album adhere to this time signature, which in itself harks back to the Aksak, a rhythmic pattern based on the alteration of binary and ternary quantities executed in a fast tempo, intrinsic to traditional music from Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan and the Balkans.

In the same way these non-standard folk rhythms started to impact on Western music in the early 20th Century, so now you can hear an ever-increasing embrace of polyrhythms and metres that break away from the dominant 4/4 ideology. What’s most striking about Ritme Jaavdanegi, perceived through a lens of modern Western experimental music, is how Mortazavi’s virtuosic playing rivals the intensely programmed dynamics of electronica. His rapid, needlepoint drum hits bend their tonality in incredibly musical ways, but there is still an underlying focus on cyclical repetition that encourages the same ancient transcendental quality that so many contemporary artists strive for. 

Mohammad Reza Mortazavi

At the age of just 20 Mohammad Reza Mortazavi was considered by many as the world’s best Tombak player. In the course of his career he developed over 30 new striking and finger techniques and revolutionised the traditional way of playing – not always to the joy of the old masters. The audience in Teheran was delighted and his concerts were regularly sold out.

At the age of 22 the musician travelled to Germany for the first time and performed with great success in Munich. Apart from releasing several CDs he has been invited to a range of concerts throughout Europe, where he has swept audiences off their feet. In 2003 he received the German World Music Award RUTH in the newcomers’ category – as one of over 600 candidates. In March 2010 his concert successes were crowned by a solo concert he gave at the Philharmonie in Berlin.

His solo tour for the album CODEX started in 2013, with almost 100 concerts around the world in venues such as the World Music Festival in Shanghai, China, Philharmonie Luxembourg, Philharmonie Köln or several times at the Fusion Festival in Germany. For the final concert in 2015, he sold out the Samaritan Church (Samariterkirche) in Berlin. In the same year Mohammad Reza Mortazavi started a regular acoustic event in Berlin, called TRANSFORMATION which is also the name of his 8th solo album, released in 2016.

In the beginning of 2018, Mohammad released his first solo vinyl record for the Portuguese label Padre Himalaya.