Katayoun Goudarzi, Shujaat Khan, Kevin Hays, & Tim Ries - Will You? (Tames Records)
Add Date: 09/26
Focus Tracks: 1, 2
Format: Top 200, World
Artist Info: The close friendship of several culturally diverse musicians is captured on Will You, the latest album from Iranian-American vocalist Katayoun Goudarzi, master sitar player Shujaat Khan, highly respected saxophonist Tim Ries (who’s played with jazz greats like Jack DeJohnette and Donald Byrd and rock icons like The Rolling Stones, Donald Fagen, and Rod Stewart), artful pianist Kevin Hays, and tabla player Dibyarka Chatterjee. Together, they have forged an unlikely ensemble that finds striking new settings for Rumi’s centuries-old yet ever-urgent words.
“With Rumi you can find all different kinds of poems, chronicling all different kinds of human experience,” reflects Goudarzi. “Some are wildly romantic. Some are edgier like ‘Don’t.’ Most of the verses we use on the album are love poems. The way I present the lyrics this time, on the title track, is to use three different poems to make sure I’m completing the story.”
Her ensemble-mates expand the story by contributing pieces (Hays’ “Sweet Caroline”) and by weaving their instruments’ voices into Goudarzi’s. Sometimes they respond, as Khan does at the end of “Void,” playing and humming the role of the beloved whom Rumi so often evokes in his poems. Sometimes they set the stage with a dramatic haunting and chilling solo as Ries does skillfully at the beginning of “Don’t.” Sometimes they stop playing entirely and allow Goudarzi to sing solo, heightening the emotional intensity, as at the end of the title track “Will You.”
One of the defining qualities of Rumi’s work is its sustained ability to resonate emotionally, across ages and across cultures. Goudarzi feels this resonance has particular relevance to our day and age. Through the words and music, she and the ensemble want to bring listeners deeper into these varied emotions, feelings universal in nature. “Happiness and sadness. Love and hatred. These are universal feelings, no matter what language we speak, the color of our skin. No matter how you express it, the feelings are the same. We wanted to bring those emotions to the surface.”