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Saxophonist Hafez Modirzadeh illuminates humanity's common threads through music

The work of San Jose saxophonist and composer Hafez Modirzadeh is equal parts head and heart: He loves to delve into the theory of music as well as the mind-transcending direct experience of making it. His work encompasses jazz, new music, Persian classical and more. He also co-directs the Jazz and World Music program at San Francisco State University.

Modirzadeh spoke with KALW’s Jen Chien about working on a musical philosophy to match his view of the world — where there is no hierarchy of cultures or traditions.

MODIRZADEH: These are not micro-tones, these are not quarter tones, these are not three-quarter tones — in the same way that you and I cannot call ourselves three-quarter human because we are not all so-called white.

Hafez Modirzadeh accompanies poet, Nathaniel Mackey, at a house concert in Berkeley on Monday, Nov. 7. For ticket information send an email to Harry@fullplatemedia.com.

Click the audio player above to hear the story.

Jen Chien was the managing editor for Crosscurrents and KALW News from 2016 to 2018. She has been a contributor to All Things Considered, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, BBC/PRI’s The World, Making Contact, SF Public Press, East Bay Express, New America Media, and KPFA in Berkeley, where she took part in the First Voice Apprenticeship Program. She is the recipient of the 2013 Outstanding Emerging Journalist Award from the Society of Professional Journalists of Northern California. She holds a BA in American Studies from Smith College, and an MA in Interdisciplinary Performance from New College of California. Before entering the field of journalism, she had a successful career as a professional dance and theater artist, teacher, and massage therapist.