TehranAvenue Online Magazine
Musa Kamali founded the group JAHLEH in 1992. The name, jahleh, refers to a clay pot used as a water container in some villages of the Hormozgan province and made in the city of MINAB. There are three different types of jahleh. The largest one is called jamali jahleh, which women would carry to and from the well. Young women carried the regular jahleh, while young girls carried the gaduk jahleh, the smallest of the three. The jahleh was the traditional method of storing and cooling water.
According to Musa Kamalis research, jahleh was also used as a musical instrument around two thousand years ago. With the onset of electricity, jahleh was eventually relegated to a historical artifact. Kamali and his ensemble are responsible for the revival of jahleh as a musical instrument. In addition to jahleh, other regional instruments the ensemble uses include dohol, kasser, peepah, which are percussion instruments, and ney jofti, a double flute made of a specific kind of cane.
The group’s work includes written music for Persian Gulf Radio and Television, two movie soundtracks, theatre productions, and live performances at the Kista World Music Festival in Stockholm, Sweden.
Being a family-based group has had a great influence on Jahleh’s creativity and togetherness. Their ensemble is comprised of 13 members, women and men ranging from 16 years old to 80.
Qanbar Rastgoo: singer and master of the ney jofti; has played this instrument since 12 years of age and is known throughout the province of Hormozgan. One of the few remaining ney jofti players who brought his knowledge of old folk songs from the region to the ensemble. He teaches his art to young people in Bandar Abbas, to make sure this old style of music and storytelling does not fade away. He also leads the Zār ceremonies, a traditional healing ceremony native to Bandar Abbas as well as other countries in the region, including Ethiopia. He currently works in a library in Bandar Abbas.
Ahmad Ravan: like many in Bandar Abbas, Ahmad is of African descent. He is an exceptional talent who writes and performs the group’s rap music. His raps are about their traditions and social issues related to their neighborhood. He also plays the tumba, a hand drum, jahleh, writes music for the group and teaches his art to local youth.
Fatimeh Ravan: background vocals, she is currently continuing her education
Halimeh Ravan: background vocals and homemaker
Zahra Ravan: background vocals; teaches and works as a tailor from home.
Kolsoom, Ahmad’s wife: background vocals; teaches and tutors students and occasionally does embroidery work.
Hamid Saeed: composer; producer; guitaritst and regional folk instruments, oud, flute and other wind instruments, and various hand drums.
Hamed Dehbashi: jahleh; fisherman; night school student.
Hamid Dehbashi: jahleh; fisherman.
Hossein Gordin: bass guitar; founder of music group Mamboleyvah.
Issa Balichestani: new member; vocals; a sharveh singer (a specific folk style).
Mussa Kamali: hand drums; group manager; has made a few short documentary films on the people of Hormozgan province; painter (his work is inspired by the shape of the jahleh); writes poetry and short stories about his people and has been published in Bandar Abbas newspapers.
The group incorporates many different music genres in its own music. Ahmad Ravan raps, Issa Baluchestani sings local pop music, Qanbar Rastgoo sings in the regional folk style and Hamid Saeed sings Bandari reggae. Jahleh combines the traditional dastgah and radif of Hormozgan with today’s popular music as well as different genres like reggae, blues, rock, and flamenco to create an innovative new sound. The ensemble’s lyrics have a social and cultural character that reflects the cultural traditions of the people of Hormozgan.