Eishan Ensemble’s excellent performance at Venue 505 in Surry Hills blended Persian and Western musical traditions in an exciting and impressive way. Their music does not fit into any customary genre but Persian infused jazz could be one label. Persian-Australian musician and composer, Hamed Sadeghi, is the lead of the ensemble. He plays classical Persian instruments the tar and the oud and is accompanied by some first-rate musicians: Pedram Layegh on classical guitar, Michael Avgenicos on saxophone, Elsen Price on double bass and Adem Yilmaz on percussion.

Persian music traditionally has improvisation at its core and combining with jazz musicians and their conventions allows Eishan Ensemble to take advantage of this and create harmonious and fascinating music. Hamed explained that Eishan means “these guys” and that he feels fortunate to be playing with these guys. Judging by their response the audience at Venue 505 felt fortunate to be in the presence of these guys.

The night featured songs from their album, Nim Dong, and opened with a song featuring the tar, supported by some mellow sax and some light and delicate percussion. Black and White followed, a dramatic composition featuring the tar and guitar in conversation with the saxophone crooning in the background. A piece called Signs featured impressive string picking and a hypnotic saxophone melody before venturing into some powerful dance rhythms. The first set closed with a dreamy number featuring some excellent bass bowing and intricate drumming.

The second set opened with Regret. The anguished expressed in this composition was palpable and the intensity of their performance was saturated with torment. Hamed introduced the next song, Future, by explaining how the musicians in the group come from diverse conventions and playing together over time they learn from each other.

As a result they had reworked Future to take advantage of the band’s development. This resulted in the highlight of the evening as they ventured into wild frontiers and produced a piece of almost orchestral complexity. It was powerful and engrossing.

Hamed’s stage presence is a driving force of this power and dynamism. Even though Hamed is just sitting on a chair as he plays the emotion and energy of his performance creates this fantastic stage presence. It was a highly enjoyable performance.

Eishan Ensemble played at Venue 505 Saturday 30th March, 2019.