Goran Ivanovic & Fareed Haque
Seven Boats Reviews index:
February 2005, Downbeat, Aaron Cohen
January/February 2005, Minor7th.com, Alan Fark
January 2005, Celine Keating, Acoustic Guitar Magazine
December 2004/January 2005, DW, Dirty Linen
October 2004, Craig Keller, CS Magazine
August 3, 2004, Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune
August 1, 2004, Aaron Steinberg, Jazz Times Magazine
March 2004, David Witter, Chicago Innerview
Ivanovic and Haque sound like committed internationalists. Their disc's liner notes emphasize the duo's mixed background -- Ivanovic has Balkan parents and he studied classical music in Salzburg; Haque is part Pakistani, part Chilean, and is as much of an eclectic as his musical partner. While their compositions draw from Macedonian folk songs and pay homage to Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, it's the pair's intricate harmonies that make Seven Boats an impressive recording. Both of these guitarists have impeccable technique, yet they are astute in choosing to go the route of minimalism and evocative uses of space. Ivanovic's title track is a great example of how to move dynamics with the right amount of subtelty.
Goran Ivanovic & Fareed Haque, "Seven Boats", Proteus 4037, 2004
Minor7th.com, January/February, 2005
Situated at the confluence of classical, jazz and folk music is a musical netherworld which is untouched by all but the most iconoclastic of musicians. It is ground that a player best step upon with a "tabula rasa", a blank slate stripped of clichéd Western preconceptions of music contaminated by the steady insistence of a radio-enslaved market. Enter Goran Ivanovic and Fareed Haque, two classically trained guitarists who both have not only the cultural history which grants them a freedom of open-minded perspective, but also the musical credentials to sensitively alchemize cross-cultural genres into one kaleidoscopic whole. Haque's formative years were flung far-and-wide between Spain, France, Iran, Pakistan and Chile, Ivanovic's spent in war-torn Croatia. The opening and closing tracks of their second collaborative release, "Seven Boats", again revisit Ivanovic's roots with inventive arrangements of two Macedonian folk songs, "Topansko Oro" and "Zajdi Zadji". Both of these tracks are mesmerizing via contrary moods, introducing the CD with a mantra of lilting repetition, closing with a slowly billowing meditation. Ivanovic claims the lion's share of the compositions on "Seven Boats", penning 12 of the 17 tracks, whereas Haque's genius shines through with his ability to precisely punctuate these polyrhythmic and modal tunes with his blazing improvisational solos, especially on "Macedonian Round", "Walls of the White City" and "Chase".
© Alan Fark
Acoustic Guitar Magazine, January 2005, by Celine Keating
Unclassifiable classical duo is ignited by world rhythms and jazz
Goran Ivanović and Fareed Haque
Taking a fluid approach to boundaries of all kinds, classical guitar duo Goran Ivanović and Fareed Haque draw inspiration from the musical idioms of the Balkans, combining propulsive rhythms, improvisational flights of fancy, odd meters, and insane bursts of speed and crafting an original sound of startling originality and beauty. On their new CD, Seven Boats, as on their stunning 2001 debut, Macedonian Blues, Ivanović and Haque’s classical- and jazz-infused solos and duets transcend geographical, cultural, and musical identity and defy any easy characterization.
The two guitarists build their unique rapport on backgrounds that couldn’t be more dissimilar. The Chicago-born and widely traveled Haque (www.fareed.com), 41, is the son of a Chilean mother and Pakistani father. A master of both jazz and classical guitar, with pop sensibilities, he has performed with artists as diverse as Paquito D’Rivera and Sting, recorded a cover version of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young’s entire Déjà Vu, formed both the experimental Fareed Haque Group, in which he plays a guitar-sitar hybrid, and the newer jam band Garaj Mahal, and has taught at Northern Illinois University since 1989.
Ivanović (www.goranivanovic.net), 27, was born in Yugoslavia to a Serbian father and a Bosnian-Croatian mother. A child prodigy, he left his war-torn country at 12 to study at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, joining his parents in Chicago in 1996. Studies completed, prestigious competitions won, and with the desire to break from strict classical repertoire, he found musical direction in Haque’s looser, club-based style. “His way of playing is furious,” says Ivanović, who approached Haque after hearing him perform. The two soon began collaborating. But while their mélange of musical inheritance is apparent, their music goes much further and deeper than ethnic eclectic.
“When I came with a few arrangements, he could feel it right away,” Ivanović says of Haque’s affinity for the folk-based music of the Balkans, a cross-fertilization of Jewish, Gypsy, Turkish, Spanish, North African, Egyptian, and Indian cultures. Using old recordings of village musicians, Ivanović worked out the melodies and harmonies and then, with Haque, created new arrangements. The pieces are primarily based on dances in meters like 7/8, 5/8, and 11/8 that are unfamiliar to American ears and belie the notion that popular music is necessarily simple. “When you go to Bulgaria, where people have been dancing in 11 and 9 and 14 and 19, or India, where you turn on pop radio and the melodies are full of altered scales, you realize that the human condition can appreciate great complexity.” Haque says. But only if it is organic, he maintains, based on the natural rhythms of the human body.
The music also refutes the corollary that classical music need be as sterile and inorganic as it is serious. To this end, the duo embraces an exuberant improvisational approach. Believing that the loss of improvisation in classical music accounts for its shrinking audience, Haque has long cultivated such spontaneity. “The hard part is to improvise in a way that is stylistically related,” Haque says, “to have it fulfill the function of the development section in a typical sonata. Can we take some of the motifs and try to vary them and develop them in a way that relates to the overarching architecture? When it sounds like a spontaneous development of the material, it’s really exciting.” “Zajdi Zajdi,” from Seven Boats (Proteus, www.proteusentertainment.com), is a case in point, a simple folk tune that was almost completely improvised as it was recorded. When they work together, Ivanović says, things sometimes take off and “completely new parts come.” They both maintain that working together has broadened their playing. “I enjoy classical music more now when I am able to be more relaxed in terms of rhythms,” says Ivanović, who has also started the Goran Ivanović Group to play upbeat “loosely Balkan” music.
This melding of the complex and the passionate, the classical and the improvisational, makes for exhilarating listening. The alchemy is apparent on the evocative “Walls of the White City,” the driving “Topansko Oro,” and the dreamy “Seven Boats,” which moves from a hypnotic repetitive motif to a sultry improvisation embedded in an elusive melody. Each guitarist’s beautiful individual tone is most apparent on their respective classical solos—Haque’s rendition of Georg Philipp Telemann’s Fantasia in D, which he transcribed, and Ivanović’s “Pour le Moment.”
How can a duo maintain the spontaneity required to reinvent their music every time out? “Trust,” says Haque. “Hopefully, when Goran and I play, people will get excited about the music and will forget that it’s classical and just think it’s fun or moving.” They are planning several long tours to further deepen their rapport and a new CD of perhaps half originals and half Spanish Baroque music. As Ivanović says of their ongoing collaboration, “It should always be a new beginning and a growing experience.” n
What They Play
On Seven Boats, GORAN IVANOVIĆ switched between Frederich Holtier (www.holtierluthier.com) and Richard Bruné (www.rebrune.com) classical guitars. The Holtier has a double spruce top, Indian rosewood back and sides, and “volume, warmth, and character.” The Bruné, a 1985 with cedar top, Indian rosewood back and sides, and mahogany neck, was adapted for Ivanović with an extra soundhole he calls “really cool, very funky looking.” Ivanović uses D’Addario EJ-46 strings.
FAREED HAQUE played his “old, trusty” 1974 cedar/Indian Germán Pérez Barranco (www.geocities.com/Nashville/8901/granada.htm) on his solos, except for the Telemann. On that and the duets, he used a 2002 spruce/Brazilian, 650 mm.–scale guitar made by Jeronimo Peña Fernández (Utica, 7 Marmolejo, Jaen, Spain). He praises the instrument for its fantastic projection and sustain. Haque uses D’Addario composite strings.
Dirty Linen, October/November 2004
Goran Ivanovic and Fareed Haque Seven Boats [Proteus Entertainment 4037 (2004)]
Take two renowned guitarists, Goran Ivanovic, son of Serbian/Bosnian Croat parents, and Fareed Haque, the son of Pakistani/Chilean parents, add the fact that Haque fronts the edgy jam band Garaj Mahal, and the collaborative explosions are infinite. The mighty tag team tackles everything that comes it's way, from jazz to classical to folk and world music. Its technique is brilliantly stunning as nimble fingers blitz across the frets to paint surging and retreating moods of frolic, romance and introspection. Additionally, the disc is divided into sections wherever possible to group similar compositions. The waltz section features Ivanovic's lolloping "Solitary Waltz," the demanding "Hommage a Villa Lobos," and the flittery, whimsical "Pour le Moment." Each of the sonatinas, "Evocation," "Jazz," and "Tocata," moves through a wide swath of contrasting emotions and tempo changes. Oftentimes one will frame an infrastructure while the other weaves in and out as heard on "Seven Boats." "Macedonian Round" builds to a marvelously intense climax and then stays close to that energy level for the song's duration. Mesmerizing as much as it is deep. Recommended. (DW)
CS Magazine, October 2004
PORTRAIT OF THE GUITARIST AS A YOUNG MAN
Goran Ivanovic was a classical-guitar prodigy in Yugoslavia who seemed destined for the spotlight in grand concert halls. That was before a violent civil war brought him to America, where he's rediscovered the passionate folk music of his past.
By Craig Keller
PDF file of the complete interview“DEEP DOWN, EVERY CLASSICAL AND JAZZ MUSICIAN WANTS TO BE A ROCK STAR.” Goran Ivanovic, one of the most exciting guitar players to emerge on the Chicago music scene in years, divulges this secret truth, in a thick Slavic accent, to the 50 or so people who’ve come to hear the four-piece Goran Ivanovic Group play on a Thursday night at HotHouse, the world-music nightclub in the South Loop. The quip is met with scattered laughs, in recognition of the uphill struggle for mainstream success faced by any musician who plays something other than rock or hip-hop these days. In this instance, that means Balkan folk songs ladled from the cultural and musical melting pot of Macedonia and stirred up with American jazz (courtesy of saxophonist Doug Rosenberg and bassist Matt Ulery), gypsy, kiezmer and Mediterranean accents, and a dollop of flamenco guitar – hardly a surefire recipe for rock-star-style fame and fortune.
But for all his sarcasm, however, Ivanovic, who is 27, does, in fact, look a lot more like a rock star than someone who spent his adolescence learning classical guitar at one of Europe’s most prestigious music conservatories and, since emigrating to the United States eight years ago, has dedicated himself to discovering an entirely new musical vocabulary, one that achieves a balance between the technical sophistication of classical music, the simple melodies and infectious rhythms of Eastern European folk music, and the improvisational, emotionally liberating power of Western jazz. He wears beat-up blue jeans and beat-up sneakers. His black, wavy hair looks dense enough to have defeated countless combs in battle, and his goatee could probably use a maintenance trim on a more regular basis. After tonight’s gig, he’ll climb into his Jeep, roll himself a cigarette from his omnipresent pouch of Drum-brand tobacco, and return to the proudly unkempt bachelor pad he shares with a fellow classical-guitar-devotee roommate in Logan Square. He has a fine, dry sense of humor and a studied fondness for the word “fuck,” which peppers his conversation the way furious flamenco-style strums sneak into his polished renderings of traditional Balkan folk tunes.
He’s earned the respect of some of the finest classical guitar players in Chicago over the past few years, but Ivanovic has long since shucked the tuxedos, concert halls, and regimented caste structure and stifling formality of the classical music world. “It really didn’t make me happy when I played guitar competitions or for guitar societies,” says Ivanovic, who won several such competitions as a teenager, “because you’d have 50 guys just staring at you and hoping you make a mistake. It’s not healthy.”
Chicago happens to be home to an inordinate number of great guitarists, and two of the most eclectic -- Goran Ivanovic and Fareed Haque -- have teamed felicitously on "Seven Boats" (A440 Music Group). Exploring Macedonian folk song, Brazilian dance, Argentinian concert art, American jazz and Western classical composition, Ivanovic and Haque produce some of the most stylistically uninhibited guitar duetting imaginable. By ignoring borders that traditionally separate nations, cultures and epochs, Ivanovic and Haque essentially have forged a musical idiom of their own imagining.
Chicago listeners expect no less.
Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune, August 3, 2004
Back to Seven Boats Home Page
Jazz Times, August 2004 issue
by Aaron Steinberg | Aug 01 '04
Guitarist Goran Ivanovic was studying music in Salzburg when his Serbian father and Bosnian Croat mother were expelled from their disintegrating country. They all live in the United States now, but the music of Ivanovic's homeland is still on his mind. Seven Boats (Proteus) is his second studio encounter with another guitarist who's had a cosmopolitan childhood, Fareed Haque, and for the session, Ivanovic brought plenty of central European folk melodies. (Macedonian Blues was their first collaboration.)
This isn't an attempt at world-music fusion, however. The two players take their nylon strings seriously and keep this music set firmly in a classical guitar idiom. Tellingly, at the few points where the recording ranges, it's not with the addition of a clarinet or a sanguine dance number; it's with the inclusion of a Telemann arrangement and a Villa-Lobos tribute. The tunes are skillfully arranged and tightly played. The two guitarists almost never engage one another as soloist and accompanist, but choose to play interlocking parts of moving chords and tart melodies. The players are so well drilled that it's often impossible if not completely beside the point to tell them apart. More often than not, they sound like a single guitar player blessed with extra fingers. Seven Boats goes on a little too long, though. And for all its technical grace (or perhaps because of it), the disc suffers from a somber airlessness that only lifts briefly, for Haque's three solo numbers.
Chicago Innerview, March 2004
Fareed Haque & Goran Ivanovic
Pack World Experience into
Cross-Continental Seven Boats
By David Witter
To many music fans, the term “crossroads” refers to two country roads in Mississippi where Robert Johnson allegedly met the devil and learned the blues. But for Goran Ivanovic and Fareed Haque, the “crossroads” is Macedonia, a region in what was formerly Yugoslavia.
The Chicago guitar duo believes that this mountainous area best represents the place where the atonal scales of India, the gypsy and folk music of Eastern Europe, the Flamenco guitar of Spain and the rhythms of Turkey and North Africa have been joined to create a musical tapestry. Sewn from the strings of two master classical/jazz guitarists, this tapestry is ripe with images of slow burning fires and gypsy caravans traveling across the mountains.
“The area of Macedonia and the Balkans has been lived in, conquered or occupied by peoples and armies ranging from Russians, Turks, The Mongols, Barbarians and the Gypsies, who originally made their way from India and Persia,” Haque told Chicago Innerview. “But it is also an area of great culture. Influenced by the classical music and culture of Germany, Austria, Italy, Russia, and other European nations. So it is from this melting pot that we try and draw this great musical blend.”
Aptly titled Seven Boats, the second CD from these Chicagoans/world citizens brings together musical elements from all seven continents. But in this era where almost everyone can access music, culture and art from Rimini to Rogers Park with one click of a mouse, Seven Boats is drawn from what may be several lifetimes of musical and life experience on the part of Ivanovic and Haque.
The more established of the duo, Haque is recognized by musicians and critics alike for combining sound-barrier breaking speed with precise combinations of notes and tones that seem to exceed the limits of that small wooden box. Born in 1963 to a Pakistan father and a Chilean mother, Haque has also enjoyed extensive stays in Spain, France, Iran, Pakistan, and Chile.
Listening to him play, you can somehow hear faint beats, cries and nuances from these far away countries in each echoing tremolo. This background, combined with solid schooling in jumping jazz, helped Haque quickly gain a local reputation at Chicago clubs like The Green Mill in the early 1980s. Almost as fast as a scale in 11/8 time, he was then recruited to play and record with the likes of Dave Holland, Sting, Arturo Sandoval, Paquito D’ Rivera, Joe Henderson, Ramsey Lewis, and Joe Zawinul. It was while touring with the Weather Report co-founder and jazz legend that Haque was smitten by the gypsy bug.
“I was touring Europe with Joe Zawinul when we came across a troupe of gypsies,” Haque says. “They were playing this incredible guitar and so I stopped and we started jamming. Whether they are young or old, the gypsies play music 24/7.”
While Haque discovered the music of eastern Europe, one solo from this fiery bearded Balkan tells you that Ivanovic was born into it. The son of Serbian and Serbo-Croatian parents, Ivanovic discovered guitar at the age of nine. “I grew up listening to Macedonian folk music, the music of the gypsies, off scales from India as well as, of course, classical and popular music and some jazz,” Ivanovic says.
But when Ivanovic talks about playing “Balkan Blues”, he isn’t simply coining an astute alliteration. In 1990, civil war in Yugoslavia sent his world literally crashing down. At 12 he was separated from his parents, who deemed that his life would be safer and his talents better developed at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. After studying classical guitar, Ivanovic emigrated to the United States. Here he was reunited with his parents, and later met Haque.
“I first met Goran [Ivanovic] as a student who wanted to learn about jazz,” Haque says. “But we ended up playing together and his style of music and playing was so cool that I went from helping to arrange a few tunes to eventually teaming up with him for what became our first album.”
The CD, titled Macedonian Blues, Laments and Dances, was released in 2002 by Proteus Entertainment. Through its musical demeanor and tone, it eschewed the popular myths and stereotypes of the gypsies: men smashing glasses against the wall and beautiful girls dancing seductively in the firelight. Instead, the duo’s slow, ringing notes on songs like “The Saddest of All” and “Macedonian Girl” paint a picture of generations of weary refugees journeying across moonlit mountains. Other songs, like “Romantico”, take a slight cue from Gypsy jazz founder Django Reinhardt. Once again, the tolling chords and beautiful lines seem to paint a musical picture of a Parisian café- not in full swing - but near dawn, after all the customers have left.
The critical and commercial response to the disk was enough that the duo will be releasing a follow up disk at their April appearance at The HotHouse.
“The first record had a couple of real good tunes, and it turned out to be one of Fareed’s best sellers,” Ivanovic said. “So we felt the urge to come up with a second CD, which I think will be even better than the first because we have learned more about playing with each other.”
Unlike more familiar groups such as the Gypsy Kings, who combine “gypsy sounds” with rocking 4/4 beats and a standard rhythm section, Haque and Ivanovic’s Seven Boats, is all acoustic guitar. It also features songs in 7/8, 5/8, and 11/8 time, sequences not familiar to many Americans. But the duo believes that listeners are ready for these more pure sounds and that world music/gypsy jazz is a genre ripe for musical ears.
“Now you can hear music from all over the world via the Internet, so musical borders are continually being broken,” Ivanovic says. “In America, everybody is from someplace else anyway, so I believe there is a big future for this type of music.”