Vaak East 2022: Celebrating Contemporary Iranian Music in London

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Join Vaak Records for London's first festival of contemporary Iranian music on July 1-2 at Rich Mix.

In its first edition, Vaak East brings Londoners two evenings of music celebrating diasporic Iranian music from around Europe. Starting with emerging, highly lauded London-based Koroush Kanani guitar trio and their perfect East/West blend, we then hear /Kry (with Mona Matbou Riahi) from Austria, bringing their unique intricate sound and style to the evening, which will end with the multi-faceted musical storytelling of Golnar & Mahan trio.

The second evening begins with new and established London-based artists, starting with the multi-textured experimental soundscapes of Phemo quartet formed by Ashkan Layegh and Roya Arab (the first female Iranian musician to write and record in the UK post 1979) and friends sharing new and old songs; before Paris brings us Azarine Trio's diverse skilful sonic tapestry with guests and Habib Meftah closes the Vaak festival with his electronica infused, roof raising Afro-Iranian rhythms from Southwest Iran.

Day One (July 01):

Kourosh Kanani Trio:

Cosmic, immersive sounds, steeped in Persian folk and woven with South Indian rhythms. Prepare to be spellbound by the Kourosh Kanani Trio.

The chemistry between the musicians (with Matt Davies on drums and Dave O'Brien on bass) forms a magical dynamic that brings the pilgrimatic compositional style of Kanani to life in a vivid way.

Kourosh Kanani Vaak East

For Vaak East they will be playing some new experience featuring Shohreh Khatoon and Parham Bahadoran.

/kry Trio:

/Kry Trio’s eccentric blend of avant-garde jazz and electronica leaves it almost totally untethered from any single genre and defying categorisation.

/Kry Trio Vaak East

Conceived in Vienna by Mona Matbou Riahi, Philipp Kienberger and Alexander Yannilos, /kry’s sound is a revelry of simplicity and intuition, a celebration of complexity and control and an intricate fusion of its members' individual styles.

Gonar & Mahan Trio:

Offering a masterful and fresh approach to the art of musical storytelling, Golnar & Mahan Trio draw together elements of contemporary jazz, Southwest Asian microtonal modes, poly-rhythmic grooves, European chamber and experimental music to create an original sound.

Golnar & Mahan Trio Vaak East

The trio (consists of Golnar Shahyar, Mahan Mirarab and Amir Wahba) improvises its way through structured compositions, powerful grooves and most delicate sounds in such masterful ways that one can hardly notice the complexity of their music.

Day Two (July 02):

Phemo Quartet:

Creating a new musical language, in association with memory, has always been the front matter for Phemo Quartet. Its current line-up includes Ashkan Layegh (piano) , Sam Norris (alto saxophone), Harry Ling (drums), and Gonçalo Maia Caetano (bass).

Phemo Quartet Vaak East

Diverse background of the personnel, makes Phemo’s sound a collision of various musical forces, such as: Progressive Rock of 70s, Traditional Persian Music, Modal Jazz of Miles Davis and John Coltrane, 60’s Avant-Garde, and Swiss Contemporary Music.

Roya Arab Trio:

Roya Arab first released music as a member of Archive, on Londinium in 1996. She then collaborated with various artists including Zend Avesta, Groove Rider, Mike Figgis, and Leila Arab.

For ‘Vaak East’ Roya Arab will delve into her songbook with gifted multi-instrumentalist composers, Pouya Mahmoodi and Phil Davies.

Azarine Trio:

Classically trained, Paris-based Iranian pianist Arshid Azarine played a key role in the rebirth of Persian Jazz at the end of the 1990s.

Azarine Trio

For Vaak East, he returns to London with his established trio featuring Habib Meftah (percussion, vocals) and Hervé de Ratuld (bass), to present a preview of his new project "Vorticity" (yet to be released). They will be joined occasionally by guests, guitarist-singer Pooya Mahmoudi and Roya Arab.


Habib Meftah Boushehri creates music that’s an energetic, breathless and mesmerising tribute to his birthplace of Bushehr — a port city in southern Iran that’s defined by the Persian, African and Arab cultures that have made their mark on its people over centuries.

Habiboo Vaak East

His performance at RICH MIX includes his latest project with Rouzbeh Esfandarmaz fusing EDM with southern Iranian music.

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