Online since August 2002

Solid songs while he finds his voice

Reviewed October 2009

Stretch Reach
Stretch Reach
By Bviolin

Self-released: 2009

To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.

San Diego's Bahman Sarram is a stellar violinist (thus the stage name), and a solid songwriter. And he's to be commended for the difficult task of trying to blend the vastly different music forms of east and west on his second album. That he fails here to fully synthesize the Persian forms of his native Iran with the jazz, country and rock strains of his adopted United States is no stain on the effort; you can count on one hand those who have succeeded in bridging that significant gap.

Besides, the moments of pure charm on "Stretch Reach" far outweigh any stylistic clashes. "Desert Drive" has a nice California country-rock vibe to it and a gorgeous melodic line, "Dadash" is heady bit of modern jazz in a Dave Brubeck vein, while "Icy Sheets" is a cross between smooth jazz and fusion – all anchored by top-flight playing.

But the rap on "Dance Face" just seems out of place. There's a nice Persian-tinged dance beat going behind the vocals, and the lyrics have a positive message, but it's just jarring here.

"Shadya" and "Vigen" are, at least to these Western ears, the closest to actual Persian music – just as Iran sits between the Arab world and the Indian subcontinent on the map, so is the music on these two tracks somewhere between Arabian and raga. The swirling melody and the minor-esque keys definitely have a Middle Eastern flavor to them.

Bviolin has a ton of talent, including a gift at writing memorable themes. He seems to not yet have distilled his own musical voice, to not have fully found his own path. But what's found on this new album offers the thought that wherever his journey takes him next, music fans are going to enjoy hearing it.

Review by Jim Trageser. Jim is a writer and editor living in Escondido, Calif., and was a contributor to the "Grove Press Guide to Blues on CD" (1993) and "The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Blues" (2005).

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