Zuze Camp Wavelength, Toronto ON, August 20

Zuze Camp Wavelength, Toronto ON, August 20
Photo: Kyle Laurin

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Around five o'clock in the afternoon, a horde of horn players, percussionists, a bassist, a guitarist and a violinist crowded Camp Wavelength's stage at Sherbourne Common. Program materials and introductions indicated this eight-piece was Zuze — a local instrumental act known for their original arrangements exploring popular folk motifs from Iranian and Azerbaijani musical traditions with Afrobeat rhythms — but after a first piece of sunny cabaret, bassist Arif Mirabdolbaghi (formerly of Protest the Hero) approached the mic to insist this wasn't true.
 
"You aren't Zuze either, but together, we comprise Zuze. Together, we comprise some bizarre experience — some kind of immediacy — that hopefully we share with one another."
 
Over the course of their half-hour set, Mirabdolbaghi returned a number of times to deliver increasingly hammy introductions that picked apart (and requested our approval of) the arrangements of their jazz odysseys and offered regional and popular contexts for tunes like "Baroon Baroone" (a folk number from northern Iran) and "Gole Gandom" ("the 'Stairway to Heaven' of Iranian folk songs").
 
Indeed, this was traditional music that flattened the globe. While charting a vast constellation of influences, their melodies writhed and contorted into epic solo trade-offs and mighty crescendos that would fit onstage next to post-rock acts and chamber rock acts alike, their kaleidoscopic visions connecting a diaspora all while remaining fully present.