At Asia House, on February 18th, Persian musician Adib Rostami and his cousin Mehdi performed an improvised concert. 26-year-old Mehdi, who’s released his debut album, performed at the BBC Proms and for BBC Radio 3, is one of the most dedicated musicians I’ve encountered.
He is clearly a musician with an astute understanding of his craft, who operates on a basis that there is always something new to be discovered in music. Adib’s influences come from Persian, Turkish and Arabic sources, he melds these to create sounds that take you to another place.
Speaking with Adib over the phone, he gave me a privileged understanding of his musical methods. His enthusiasm was infectious, he told me that the foundation of Persian music is improvisation, and that he and his cousin always go into a performance with a blank slate.
To become a good musician is to continually learn, he said. He and his cousin have performed in various places and have always given each audience something different to take away with them, as each location offers something unique to create a performance.
Adib’s oeuvre is firmly based in the Persian traditions, with an insatiable appetite to continually improve his style. Like most Persian musicians, Adib embraces the life-long process of learning the intricate skills required to master the art form.
Fusing together the traditional with the modern, Adib elaborated on him and his cousin’s musical style to Mehvish Arshad “We play what most people call ‘clichéd traditional Iranian’ music – but what tradition are we talking about? Is it 10 years ago? 100 years ago? Or 1,000 years ago? We don’t know. It’s not traditional music in that sense, the closest thing to labelling it would be to say its Iranian classical music.”
Adib’s performances range from the meditative to the celebratory and he and Mehdi are becoming true masters of their craft.