Published on 18th August 2016 by The Guardian
Hawniyaz are an intriguing new group from the Middle East, featuring two celebrated Kurdish musicians. Kayhan Kalhor, a remarkable performer on the kamancheh “spike fiddle” was born in Kurdish Iran but now lives in the US, while Aynur, originally from the Kurdish region of Turkey, is now based in Istanbul. Here they are joined by another Kurdish musician, Cemîl Qoçgirî on tenbûr lute, and the Azerbaijani jazz pianist Salman Gambarov, who adds improvisation and western influences, rather like Thomas Bartlett in The Gloaming. This is an album of impressive musicianship dominated by Aynur’s emotional, versatile vocals. She demonstrated her range at Womad last month, and here switches from delicate to powerful and intense passages on Delalê and Rewend (Nomad). Gambarov adds gently drifting piano passages and is a thoughtful accompanist, though I would have preferred him to have eased off during some of Kalhor’s exquisite, often mournful solos.