Kayhan Kalhor / Erdal Erzincan: Kula Kulluk Yakisir Mi (2013)
For this impressive live performance, Kalhor and Erzinan appear as a duo, without The Wind's Ulaş Özdemir, whose divan baglama (or Turkish bass saz) provided a harmonic foundation. It would, perhaps, be unfair to say that it's not missed, but the truth is that, left to their own devices, exploring a repertoire that mixes completely free improvisations with traditional Iranian and Turkish music, as well as The Wind's central theme, Kalhor and Erzinan manage just fine on their own.
Being unfamiliar with the source material doesn't in any way spoil enjoyment of Kula Kulluk Yakişir Mi's hour-long, continuous performance, but it does make capturing the cues that must clearly exist amongst the two musicians that signal the shift from utter spontaneity to explorations of extant, often centuries-old themes less instantly obvious. Still, if conventional western forms are out the window here, it's not hard to hear the duo's shift from the fiery, pedal tone-based "Improvisation II"impressive enough to garner a large round of applause, midpoint, from the Bursa, Turkey audience at this winter, 2011 performanceinto the clearer form of "Deli Derviş," with Kalhor joining Erzincan in a whirling dervish of a melody, though it's the baglama that remains the dominant instrument. Kalhor assumes a more prominent role on the following "Daldalan Ban," demonstrating the timbral breadth of his bowed instrument as he moves from softer terrain to more aggressive, upper register explorations, the duo shifting dynamics from a near-whisperwhere Kalhor's instrument begins to sound almost flute-like at timesto more energetic passages where Kalhor's kamencheh soars over Erzincan's pulsating rhythms, sometimes arpegiatted, sometimes heavily strummed.
Kula Kulluk Yakişir Mi closes with The Wind's core melody and a nine-minute medley of "Intertwining Melodies," Kalhor using the back of his instrument's resonating chamber as a percussion instrument before the duo engages in a whirlwind of Mid-Eastern themes, Kalhor moving effortlessly from bow to pizzicato as the two build to a fever pitch and climactic conclusion met with a final, thunderous round of applause. It's a fitting conclusion to a transcendent performance of stellar virtuosity and relentless spirituality.
Track Listing: Improvisation I; Alli Turnam; Improvisation II; Deli Derviş; Daldalan Bari; Improvisation III; Kula Kulluk Yakişir Mi; Improvisation IV; Improvisation V; The Wind; Intertwining Melodies: Sivas Halayi, Mevlam Birçok Dert Vermiş, Erik Dali Gevrektir, Gol Nishan.
Personnel: Kayhan Kalhor: kamencheh; Erdal Erzincan: baglama.
Record Label: ECM Records