Barry O’Sullivan talks with the tar player and composer

Born in Iran, Hamed Sadeghi is an acclaimed multi-award winner Persian-Australian tar player and composer known for his innovative blend of Persian classical music with Western contemporary and jazz music. Hamed has performed on a variety of projects as well as performing solo on the tar.

When did jazz first enter your musical life and what artists influenced your style?
I fell in love with jazz after first hearing Keith Jarrett when I was in my twenties. His solo piano concerts resonated with me, and I started exploring others. I also love the energy in Thelonious Monk’s music. The more I listened to jazz, the more I felt a connection to it. For me, jazz, in the beginning, was something that I didn’t understand, but it felt right. Middle Eastern artists have also had an impact on me. The well-known kamancheh player Keyhan Kalhour and the oud player Anouar Brahem made the jazz world more familiar to me.

What are your current musical projects?
I am currently developing a new project called Empty Voices, a dialogue between the tar and a horn section. The project features some prominent Australian jazz figures – Sandy Evans on soprano and tenor saxophone, Lloyd Swanton on double bass, Paul Cutlan on bass clarinet and my long-term collaborator Michael Avgenicos on alto saxophone along with his brother Thomas Avgenicos and the percussionist Adem Yilmaz. We have already performed this project at the ACO’s The Neilson and Sydney Opera House and have had four sold-out concerts since early this year. We will be touring this project later this year and then
releasing the album.

I am also working on a new project with my quartet, the Eishan Ensemble. We plan to tour overseas later this year and Australia early next year. I have been working on some dance and film projects recently and I am creating music for choreographer Ryuichi Fujimura’s ballet to be performed by the Sydney Dance Company. I have also composed music for Tennessine, a film directed by Amin Palangi that premiered at the 2023 Sydney Film Festival.

Since moving to Australia what are some of the challenges that have confronted you musically and how have you overcome them?
Australia is a wonderful place to live in. On arrival in Australia, I found it to be a most welcoming country. Any apprehension that I had immediately disappeared. My biggest challenge was that it was too quiet for me, coming from a hectic place like Tehran. Playing a non-conventional instrument for audiences who were not accustomed to hearing it was a big challenge initially. But the more performances I did, the more comfortable I felt doing it. Initially, my solo tar performances attracted only Iranian and middle eastern audiences. Now I get a far greater range of audience at my solo concerts.

What are some of your other interests apart from performing music?
I enjoy watching films, reading and swimming and I have also started learning French. I often go to see dance and the theatre and go to the Belvoir Theatre to see productions regularly. I love having my coffee at a café that I know well, and I enjoy going back to the same café for lunch every day.

It’s five o’clock on a Sunday afternoon and you want to relax listening to some of your favourite music. What would you listen to?
I would enjoy listening to some easy mellow music like the Tord Gustavsen Trio. It just feels good. I love most Scandinavian jazz and it’s the right feel for a Sunday afternoon.