Hafez Modirzadeh

Read THIS to learn more about Hafez’s “Chromodal” concept

For over two decades, composer/saxophonist/theorist Hafez Modirzadeh has developed his pioneering “chromodal” concept, a cross-cultural musical approach developed from his own American jazz and Iranian dastgah heritages. He has published extensively on the subject while developing alternative performance techniques to adapt the saxophone to the Persian tuning system. Dr. Modirzadeh studied the dastgah repertoire extensively with Iranian violinist Mahmoud Zoufonoun, followed by a stint at New England Conservatory to study saxophone with Joe Allard and musical concepts with George Russell. He received his Masters from UCLA and his Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University. He was twice named an NEA Jazz Fellow (1989, 1991) and was granted a Fulbright to work with Gnawan and Flamenco musicians in Morocco and Andalucia in 2005-06, which resulted in his latest CD, “Bemsha Alegria” (2007, Disques Chromodal). Dr. Modirzadeh is currently a full-time professor of World Culture in Music at San Francisco State University where he directs the World Music and Dance Program. He has performed internationally over the last 20 years with such musicians as Don Cherry, Zakir Hussein, Steve Lacy, Oliver Lake, George Lewis, Peter Apfelbaum, William Lowe, James Newton, Wadada Leo Smith, Omar Sosa, Royal Hartigan, and many Asian and Asian American musical artists such as Fred Ho, Miya Masaoka, Liu Chi Chao, Danongan Kalanduyan, Mark Izu, Anthony Brown, Akira Tana, and Kenny Endo. Perhaps the highlight of Dr. Modirzadeh’s performance career was when he was asked by Ornette Coleman to play with his Quartet at the San Francisco Jazz Festival in 2007. His recorded output as a leader include: Bemsha Alegria (2007, Disques Chromodal); Dandelion (2003, Disques Chromodal); By Any Mode Necessary (1999, X-Dot 25); The Mystery of Sama (1998, AIR); The Peoples’ Blues (1996, X-Dot 25); and In Chromodal Discourse (1993, Asian Improv).

Related News

A collection of some recent press below:

2nd in Jazz Critics’ 2012 Album of the Year Poll -Rhapsody

Rob Johnson’s Top Album of the Year -The Examiner

“At 83, Rivers rises to the occasion with a sustained power that would be remarkable coming from an artist half his age. Considering how few albums this trio recorded during its time together … Reunion is an unexpected gift.” - Jazz Times, Lloyd Sachs

“Rivers’ ’70s trios — this one especially — pointed out a full range of possibilities to many freewheeling combos that came later.” - NPR Music, Kevin Whitehead

“The 90 minutes of music here (all improvised) vibrate with an intensity, freedom and unspoken connection that recollects the loft scene’s ’70s glory without explicitly referencing it. The recording quality is unimpeachable, but what is far more interesting is how these players’ approaches to music have evolved over three decades without losing their essential magic.” - Orlando Weekly, Jason Ferguson

“The two improvised sets they played were marvelous, picking right up where they left off in 1978—strong, swinging, and incisive, with not a hint of hesitation or tentativeness.” - Chicago Reader, Peter Margasak

“… the results prove to be surprising, quizzical, and “fuck yeah” exhilarating. This quintet — the leader on tenor and soprano, trumpeter Amir ElSaffar (with whom Modirzadeh co-led Radif Suite), pianist Vijay Iyer, bassist Ken Filiano and drummer Royal Hartigan — plays with so much range and feeling and technique that they at times sound nearly orchestral… It’s a powerful statement from a composer, instrumentalist, and band that deserve your time and acclaim.” - Dusted.com, Jason Bivins

“Highly innovative, Post-Chromodal Out! manages to seamlessly bridge the exotic and the familiar into one of the most captivating releases of the year.” - CultofMontreal.com, Lawrence Joseph

“… it sometimes sounds like early ’60s Miles Davis translated into a foreign language. Many have blended jazz with foreign musics, but few have been as successful in recent times as Modirzadeh.” - Jazz Times, Mike Shanley

posted on October 13, 2012 by Seth


Bruce Wallace interviews Hafez along with Vijay about “Post-Chromodal Out!” “In his own way, Modirzadeh’s passing along the kind of freedom he found, many years ago, in Charlie Parker’s music.” Listen HERE

posted on August 16, 2012 by Yulun


Hafez Modirzadeh’s “Post-Chromodal Out!” is reviewed by Nate Chinen in The New York Times

Looking to learn more about Modirzadeh’s Post-Chromodal concepts? Read about it in the journal Critical Studies in Improvisation.

posted on July 27, 2012 by Yulun


A must read article by Amir ElSaffar in All About Jazz about what he and Hafez Modirzadeh are trying to achieve musically on Radif Suite. Check it out!

posted on April 18, 2010 by Yulun


Amir ElSaffar and Hafez Modirzadeh’s Radif Suite was selected by Nate Chinen as part of his New York Times critic’s Playlist column! Chinen writes: “The two leaders pursue the sort of brash polyphony once synonymous with Don Cherry and Ornette Coleman, and now open for sharply rigorous adaptation.”

posted on April 5, 2010 by Yulun


Check out the really fascinating article by Amir Elsaffar in the most recent issue of All About Jazz New York (on page 13) discussing the theories behind his new CD Radif Suite. There is also a review of the CD in the same issue.

posted on April 1, 2010 by Intern


Pi Recordings is proud to announce the new release from Amir ElSaffar and Hafez Modirzadeh: Radif Suite. The release has already been praised as:

“A rewarding collection thick with ideas and inspiration”
LA Times
“A new grammar for composition and improvisation”
Dusted Magazine

The CD is available for purchase from the website.

posted on March 25, 2010 by Intern

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