I just wanted to post a brief Sunday Spotlight as I spent the afternoon/early evening seeing the LA Phil Live at the Cinema earlier today and I’m still gathering my thoughts about the whole experience.
Dr. Lloyd Miller (aka Kurosh Ali Khan), from what I understand, was primarily (or at least started out as) a jazz musician who eventually finished his doctorate in ethnomusicology from the University of Utah. His focus was Persian music (his dissertation was titled “Music and Song in Persia” and I think I have a copy of it around here somewhere) and he spent some 7 years or so doing field work and generally integrating himself into the Persian Classical Music scene. Miller even produced his own television series–a variety show–titled, Kurosh Ali Khan va Dustan (“Kurosh Ali Khan and friends”) during the 70s in Tehran.
A couple years ago I came across a clip from his show of him playing bedaheh navazi (literally “spontaneous playing” used by musicians to refer to improvisation) on the cello. Of course, if any of you have been reading this blog, you’ll know that so much of the idea of improvisation in non-western cultures have very specific rules for the melodic development that this isn’t just a matter of freely playing in one of the many Persian radif.
But, as I said, I really don’t want to make this a lengthy post about Persian music theory and practice so will present the video instead for your listening pleasure. The cello improv begins at 4:35 in the following video.