Interview with Iranian musician Iman Rahimipour - The ecumenicity of music touch the human souls

"About jazz and blues, I think those are like living, I experienced to be free in jazz music and learned to be strong and powerful and also effective in blues."

Iman Rahimipour: Persepolis Blues

Iranian musician Iman Rahimipour was born in 1979. He graduated in civil engineering and start of artistic life and music in 1996. At the first he played his music with a guitar and the next year started learning the blues, after that Iman was involved with Rock and Heavy Metal music.

From 2000, he started learning harmonica from 2012, succeeded to pass some courses with Franz Chmel and David Barrett and also Howard Levy. Since 2011 he plays on a Gypsy Jazz style band.

"Recently after several blues concerts, many young people are interested to start learning blues and jazz and I hope very soon we have many young players in Iran, I am so happy about it, because we could make a new wave in harmonica."

Composer, bandleader of Permonica Band established in 2011, Iman is instructor at various skill - based centers and music Institutes. He's member, founder, arranger, composer and leader of many difference music groups such as: Parsian, Gaat, Abtin, Baran, and Faryad. Iman is also founder of: Harmonica workshops for the first time in Iran, House of Harmonica and website's Harmonicaevents.com. Iman talks about the harmonica, Jazz, Blues and the connecttion with the local music.

Interview by Michael Limnios          Photos by Amir Rahimipour

When was your first desire to get involved with the Blues Rock & Jazz music and special with harmonica?

It was too many years ago when I was just 16, near 20 years ago, that I felt a passion to guitar and specially electric guitar in myself by hearing to Metallica and Guns 'n Roses and also Pink Floyd, Camel and ... !

So I bought a second hand guitar and started learning self-study. After a while I took some private classes and became familiar with jazz and rock. I started practicing very hard on blues. I should say my favorite guitarist in blues music is Eric Clapton.

After 5 year I started harmonica. I think anybody have a memory of harmonica like me, because when I was a kid I had a harmonica between my toys, and always I had a nostalgic relation with that. When I decided to start harmonica professionally, there was not any source for learning, so I started teach my self by searching on internet and using my music knowledge, which I learned before. I should say that playing guitar helped me in playing harmonica too much.

What do you learn about yourself from the blues & jazz music and what are the secrets of harmonica?

Playing harmonica is like speaking, especially when you start playing harp blues, because you have to train your tongue, throat and all the muscles which are involved. Also it could help us to adjust our breathing system, I think that's awesome. In my personal experiences, it was very useful for me and helped me to train somebody against the lung diseases, the result was great. About jazz and blues, I think those are like living, I experienced to be free in jazz music and learned to be strong and powerful and also effective in blues. I think in a 12 bar blues, the last 4 measures are our point of view to the life; you are working 8 bars and make your own life in last 4 bars.

Which collaborations have been the most important experiences? What is the best advice ever given you?

After years I felt I need some up to date lessons for my progress. So I started searching the internet and I got familiar with Mr Franz Chmel, one of the best classical harmonica players in the world. He taught me many things and for my blues harmonica, I took online classes with David Barrett and Howard Levy - the two great names in diatonic harmonica world. I always remember this sentence from Mr Chmel: just practice and don't complain, because just practicing make you strong, but remember you have to have patience for becoming pro.

Are there any memories from workshops, gigs and which you’d like to share with us?

For the first time I organized several harmonica concerts and last year I performed the first blues harmonica concert. The reaction was good, but there is a big problem in here. The blues in Iran is not a known style such as Turkish, Arabic, Spanish and even rock and metal, so it's too hard to absorb peoples, but I have a great goal in my mind and I am working on it very hard. I want to make my country and town to one of the most important places for harmonica. These days I have many young people around myself which want to learn this instrument. I have my own band Permonica (Persian harmonica band) and my websites.

How do you describe Iman Rahimipour sound and what characterize your music philosophy?

I think the most licks and techniques that we use these days are developed by past legends like Sonny Boy, Little Walter, B.B King and ....

"Playing harmonica is like speaking, especially when you start playing harp blues, because you have to train your tongue, throat and all the muscles which are involved." 

What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

These days we use more technology, like modern amps, mics, harps and ... So I think, because of that we just try to combine different sounds, these days there are less innovation and more show. I think the most important part of blues is received us from the past.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

If I could change one thing in musical world, I would like to organize a world competition like world cup where the all people from all around the world can meet each other and show their culture by music. I think the most effective language in the world is music and we can change many problems in the world by music, but there isn't a certain organization for managing these kinds of events.

Make an account of the case of the blues in Iran. Which is the most interesting period in local blues scene?

Playing blues and make a connection with audiences is too difficult in Iran, because this music genre is too far from our musical culture, but these days’ young people start to listen and play this kind of music. I had many personal experiences about playing blues, one time I tried to introduce blues harp to a person, so I started to play some vamps, licks and ... ! After I finished he asked me, where was the blues, I couldn't hear it. Wow, it's a nightmare.

What are the lines that connect the legacy of Blues from USA and England to Iran?

I think the blues belongs to those countries and we just cover that style, but personally I want to combine our music with it. Although basically the foundation must be keep.

From the musical point of view what are the similarities between Jazz Blues scales with Arabic & Iranian roads?

About relationship between jazz and blues and our music, unfortunately I don't have any idea about Arabic music because I did not try it, but about our music, there are some places where we can combine these two genres, especially in Mahoor (in Persian music we have 7 themes which are called Dastgah and Mahoor is one of theme) it has many similarities to major scale, so it would be work well in country blues style. In many cases they work well in modal system.

What has made you laugh lately and what touched (emotionally) you from the local music circuits?

Recently after several blues concerts, many young people are interested to start learning blues and jazz and I hope very soon we have many young players in Iran, I am so happy about it, because we could make a new wave in harmonica. Here I should add an important word, if the countries which organize the festivals starting to invite Iranian harp players, maybe it would help us to improve our relationship with other harmonica players and also helps us to improve our level and knowledge.

What does to be a Jazz Blues Rock artist in Asia? What is the status of Jazz Blues & Rock musician in Iran?

To be a success rock or blues artist, I don't have any imagination, because each culture prefer the closest things, it's clear if you spend time in U.S and England, after the years you can expect to become a star but I think in many countries like us it's harder than them, because you have to make a new way to show your style to public.

Official websites: Iman Rahimipour   Permonica   Harmonicaevents

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