Mitra Sumara, New York City’s Farsi funk band, dropped their debut album, Tahdig, on June 8, 2018. The band was formed by singer Yvette Saatchi Perez after she discovered the popular music of pre-Revolutionary Iran. Perez grew up living in Los Angeles with her adoptive parents. In an effort to reclaim her personal identity, Perez studied Farsi and later found her birth father.
Mitra Sumara is made up of Perez, Peter Zummo (trombone), Bill Ruyle (hammer dulcimer), Julian Maile (guitar), Jim Duffy (keyboards), Nikhil Yerawadekar (bass), Michael Evans (percussion), and Kaveh Haghtalab (drums).
Mitra Sumara, Farsi for “the light of our friendship,” interprets popular songs by Iranian singers, like Googoosh, Soli, Leila Forouhar, and reshapes Southern Iranian Bandari beat tunes. During the ‘60s and ‘70s, Iran’s pop music scene was dominated by a heady blend of disco, funk, and Latin beats, all flavored with Middle Eastern melodies.
The title of the album comes from a well-liked Persian dish, called Tahdigis, which translates to “bottom dig,” or in colloquial English, “stir the pot.”
Tahdig comprises ten tracks. Highlights on the album include “Helelyos,” which features a potent Bandari beat, funky synth colors, and bright horns. The hefty Bandari beat pulses with contagious Latin-like tangs and a polyrhythmic pulse. The antiphonal vocals add sonic dimension to the tune, giving it an ebullient mood.
“Shahre Paiz” offers a funky jazz essence with a Middle Eastern feel. “Mosem-e Gol” rides a compact jazz groove accompanied by a sparkling piano. Bursts of braying horns provide darker hues until the trombone solo takes over, scattering the shadows. My favorite tune on the album is “Manoto” because of its flowing Latin jazz savor and creamy, tender vocals.
Tahdig provides delicious music full of swirling jazz, polyrhythms, and gleaming brass accents.