Hafez Modirzadeh




“a radical cultural exchange” (New York Times)


“achieving rare emotional impact” (All About Jazz)

"thick with ideas and inspiration” (LA Times)

“inclusive and compelling” (Downbeat)

“harmonies that vibrate and shimmer” (Chicago Reader)

“a place where jazz, Middle Eastern music and the avant-garde converge" (Chicago Tribune)

"worthy of any accolades or praise one can muster in the creative improvised music world" (All Music Guide)

“unlike any other player or composer out there. This man is a composer to watch.” (All Music Guide)

“personal synthesis of jazz and folkloric styles worth hearing.” (JazzTimes)

“spreads the gospel of microtonal harmolodics”. (The Jazz Clinic)


"Modirzadeh’s omnivorous piece ... opens with Beethovenian grandeur and wends its way to solo passages and dialogues, jazzy turns with bent notes, sharp rhythms, and dense, prickly harmonies." (New York Times)

“forceful and biting, but with effortlessly rounded edges and warmth...If this is what "chromodal" music sounds like, give me more.” (Lerterland)

“gifted, eclectic, post-bop interpreter”. (Metro)

“One of the Bay Area’s hidden musical geniuses”. (SF Poetry Center)

“...improvised jazz of an extraordinary nature... deserving to be exposed to a broad spectrum of jazz listeners...Modirzadeh has excellent and attractive style, sound, control, technique, and coherency on tenor. At different times he sounds beautiful, floating, lyrical, softly mellow, or aggressive, biting, dynamic, squalling, and crying. His big, reedy, throaty approach is strangely dark and light at the same time.” (Jazz Player)

“Modirzadeh’s list of cohorts not only confirms his hipness, but raises your expectations...but (he) has no problem living up to standard, hinting at what jazz would have sounded like if it continued to move East with the same earnestness that marked Trane’s final years.” (Option Magazine)

“The record companies weren’t quite ready for his work, which incorporates everything from Persian modes, the Japanese shakuhachi tradition, and South Indian raga and tala concepts, to John Coltrane’s ‘Giant Steps’ – Francis Wong (SF Guardian)

“He has instincts appropriate to the grand traditions of Greek, Arabic, Persian and Indian musical theory...his musical and spiritual insights lead his mind inevitably and naturally into the rarified realms where music theory joins metaphysics and cosmology. This is breathtaking and inspiring.” (Jon Barlow, theorist, Wesleyan University)

“The scope of synthesis of concepts across cultures is staggering. In spite of its technical complications, there is genuine heart to this music and a real spiritual clarity. Modirzadeh is not simply a ‘scholar’ or ‘musicologist,’ but a genuine artist, with a profound, lifelong stake in the unification of research, creative work, and personal inner quest that is expressed in his music. There is great detail in his critical engagement with traditional intervallic systems, tuning systems, and modes, and there is also a grand sweep to his vision across disciplines and historical eras.” (Vijay Iyer)

“The most innovative music theorist of the 20th century, or now really the 21st century. His chromodal discourse is a way in which chromatic music and modal music, Persian traditional music, can really have a cross-cultural dialogue. He can play Persian temperament on his tenor saxophone with a completely unique system of fingerings that are completely different from regular saxophone fingerings. I have never met anyone who could do that with such cross-cultural fluency, with the possible exception of Royal Hartigan in the world of percussion. But in the world of melody, his ability to just fluently traverse different temperament systems is just astounding to me. I'm completely in awe, and I wrote a special part. In fact, in the score, it says special tenor saxophone. He's called his instrument different names over the years. He called it chromodalphone, or mutant tenor saxophone, but I wrote that score specifically with him in mind.” (Fred Ho, Composer)

"He's a terrific player — all over the horn. And I can count on one thumb the players who can really get to what Ornette is all about.” (Bobby Bradford)




Video excerpt of "In Convergence Liberation" performance at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, July 23, 2011: "La Angustia de Los Amantes" (words: Rumi   music: Modirzadeh)

Hafez Modirzadeh: In Convergence Liberation from YBCA on Vimeo

Playbill for "In Convergence Liberation"

ETHEL: Mary Rowell, violin; Cornelius Dufallo, violin; Ralph Farris, viola; Dorothy Lawson, cello

Hafez Modirzadeh: saxophones, alto flute and clarinet; karna; ney

Amir Abbas Etemadzadeh: tombak, daff, dohol

Mili Bermejo: vocals

Amir El Saffar: trumpet; santur; vocals

Faraz Minooei: santur

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