Jos Smolders, Earlabs, April 17, 2007

Tombak is the name of an important percussion instrument used in Persian classical music. It is a one-sided drum carved out of the trunk of a walnut or mulberry tree and covered in goat or lamb skin. It is in the dedicated hands here of Ziya Tabassian, who studied classical percussion in Montréal, and tombak in Iran. He is member of several ensembles that are engaged in classical and world music. On Tombak however we find all alone with the tombak or zarb. Tabassian composed 9 pieces to demonstrate his love for this instrument. Compositions that are beyond the musical context where the tombak is usually heard. Played with bare hands he creates subtle and sober improvisations, that show the great flexibility of his playing. It is amazing what new sounds and colors he finds on this simple instrument. Through a great variety of techniques and musical principles, he discovers new dimensions on this rich instrument. On the other hand, how inventive and virtuoso this music may be, it is just two hands on one basic percussion instrument. Within these limitations Tabassian does a great job. But as a listener you must have a great affinity with this idiom in order to really appreciate and enjoy it. So I hope Tombak finds it’s way.