Press: Radif Suite

Amir ElSaffar Radif Suite“unfamiliar intervals, whether bounding leaps or microscopic shifts, create harmonies that vibrate and shimmer, summoning a mood that’s both joyous and sorrowful.” – Peter Margasak, The Chicago Reader

“a 21st-century update of Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry’s classic interplay—re-creating slow-burning intensity, swelling in and out of various motifs or breaking into a ferocious groove … the quartet adds a new chapter to the jazz tradition’s ever-evolving history.” – Areif Sless-Kitain, TimeOut Chicago

“inclusive and compelling ★★★★” – Bill Meyers, Downbeat

“challenging but rewarding” – Chris Barton, The Los Angeles Times

“What’s most exciting about this album of two multi-section pieces for a jazz quartet, is not the fact that it successfully fuses “East and West” — which, on its own is a well-beaten, tired artistic path — but the way it makes you hear the past differently.” – Miki Kaneda, Dusted Magazine

“achieving rare emotional impact” – Stuart Broomer, All About Jazz

…much of Radif Suite hinges on an especially playful brand of organized freedom, with intricate, folky themes giving way to scampering improv.” – Hank Shteamer, TimeOut NY

“A great album by two composers who clearly deserve more attention ★★★★” – The Free Jazz Collective

“ElSaffar’s study of Iraqi maqam and Modirzadeh’s expertise in Persian dastgah provide tools and inspiration for new melodic concepts and fluid, highly expressive approaches to microtonality that are remarkably in sync with 21st-century jazz aesthetics…Swooping descents, spiraling patterns, crying crescendos and sudden tempo shifts require a technically stunning cohesion from the horns. But it’s the natural ebb and flow, the speechlike quality of the themes, that sets the music apart.” – David Adler, TimeOut NY

“a stirring and inspired group, worthy of any accolades or praise one can muster in the creative improvised music world.” – Michael G. Nastos, All Music

“The new album, which shifts between freely structured jazz and the soaring themes of some post-modern muezzin, has a sense of renewed discovery. At the same time, the band shows a restraint and focus found in some of the earliest free-jazz bands.” – Neil Tesser,

“the music is as simply and honestly made as any can be. This is profoundly sad music and profoundly powerful in the strength and clarity with which it expresses itself. ElSaffar and Modirzadeh seem to be confronting the world they see around them and codifying their reactions to it. There is no interpreting of reality, no offering of blandishments, no attempt to change that world. It’s honest reporting, bearing witness, an incredibly heartfelt and complex expression of things that can’t be put into words. It is moving to listen to, but not sad, as the music is darkly beautiful and the sensation of hearing artists who have so much to say and do so with such unflinching honesty is thrilling… A clear contender for one of the best recordings of 2010.” – George Grella, The Big City

“it’s a message for everyone, enhanced by a mood of mystical connection, breath and peace.” – Greg Burk, Metal Jazz

“an album rooted in theory…but its end result will ring familiar to anyone with a passing interest in the jazz avant-garde of the 1960s and beyond… the two leaders pursue the sort of brash polyphony once synonymous with Don Cherry and Ornette Coleman, and now open for sharply rigorous adaptation.” – Nate Chinen, The New York Times

“ElSaffar and tenor saxophonist Modirzadeh lead a quartet that explores radical concepts in pitch, intonation, phrase and dissonance. Joined by bassist Mark Dresser and percussionist Alex Cline, this band takes us deeply into a place where jazz, Middle Eastern music and the avant-garde converge.” – Howard Reich, The Chicago Tribune