Jazz, From Iran to Costa Rica

Posted February 18th, 2011 at 3:37 pm (UTC+0)

Diaa Bekheet | Washington, DC – Music is not just a money-making business. It is a culture that brings back memories of past events.  For example, every time Iran makes news headlines, my mind plays “Heat of the Sun” a beautiful song by famed Iranian jazz guitarist Ardeshir Farah and his Costa Rican music partner Jorge Strunz.

I listened to Heat of the Sun for the first time while reading “The Iranians: Persia, Islam and the Soul of a Nation” by American writers Sandra Mackey and Scott Harrop . The book covers a period in the history of the Iranian people, from the “glory days” of Persia to the overthrow of Mohammed Riza Shah and the rise of the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. That year, Strunz & Farah met and started performing together.

Heat of the Sun”, from their 1995 album with the same title, was quite popular – in fact, it remained in the top 10 chart of World Music for four months. The music is easily recognized, thanks to Strunz and Farah’s impressive fusion of jazz with flamenco, Latin, and Middle Eastern influences.

The Los Angeles-based duo has brought the cultural riches of Iran and Costa Rica together to pioneer a new direction in acoustic guitar music.  Over a 30-year span, they have sold more than a million records and have profoundly influenced acoustic guitarists worldwide.

On the musicians’ website, you’ll find a review the Los Angeles Times newspaper published, which says “Both men match passion with speed, musical complexity and a steely precision rarely heard in popular music.”

Strunz and Farah  have released a number of well-received CDs, including “Américas,” which was nominated for a Grammy in the Best World Music Album Of The Year category in 1993. Billboard magazine also named albums, “Primal Magic” and “Américas,” World Music Albums of the Year.

For more on jazz music, listen to VOA’s Jazz America show.

Diaa Bekheet

Diaa Bekheet
Diaa Bekheet has worked for a host of media outlets, including Radio Cairo in English, ETV News, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) and the Associated Press. He joined VOA in Feb. 1989 as an International Broadcaster, hosting a variety of popular news and entertainment shows such as Newshour, Radio Ride Across America, Business Week, and Jazz Club USA. He has interviewed a number of Jazz celebrities, including the legendary Dizzy Gillespie, Ramsey Lewis, Wayne Shorter, and George Benson. Diaa is currently an editor for our main English site, VOAnews.com.

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