Kayhan Kalhor

Presenter SFJazz has dubbed the genre "world chill" and I would urge you to ignore it.
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PREVIEW Kayhan Kalhor's splendid vehicle is the kamanche, a bowed string instrument often rendered in English as a "spike fiddle." Don't be fooled by that bit of orientalism. Neither folksy nor punk, in Kalhor's hands, the kamanche sings an eloquent and breathless tune, as assured and unfaltering as an operatic coloratura. Partnered with the rich and flawlessly clear string-tugging of the charismatic Brooklyn Rider string quartet, Kalhor's vocabulary of Persian classical music and Kurdish folk melody soars, now with the rush of a high speed chase, now with wrenching pathos that would move a heart of stone. Presenter SFJazz has dubbed the genre "world chill," and I would urge you to ignore it. What is world? What is chill? Both the youthful Brooklyn Rider and the seasoned Kalhoun perform in fiery earnest, with scarcely a glance at any East-meets-West gimmickry. Still, without burdening these fine players with the shlockiness of a term like "world chill" or "crossover classical," it's fair to say this pairing builds shrewdly on the success of projects like Yo-Yo Ma's intercultural Silk Road Ensemble and Kronos Quartet's record Caravan, (Nonesuch, 2000) which featured Kalhor's grandly titled composition Gallop of a Thousand Horses. As that name suggests, when alumni of the European symphonic tradition and virtuosos like Kalhor jam out, there's no fear of the epic. Watching this group feels like surrendering to the pleasures of a sweeping cinematic journey. And I watched it on YouTube — the Palace of Fine Arts will be the silver screen.

KAYHAN KALHOR With Brooklyn Rider. Sun/5, 7 p.m., $20–$55. Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, 3301 Lyon, SF. 1-866-920-JAZZ, www.sfjazz.org

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