Iran-born Mohammed Reza was slated to play on December 8 at EMPAC in Troy, but the show was cancelled due to visa processing delays. This restriction on artistic mobility is becoming a widespread reality in the era of Trumpist travel bans; it is the second time this year that the internationally renown performer has been unable to enter the US for a scheduled performance.
Whether or not you get to see him live, Reza's music is worth checking out. A master of the tombak (the ancient, goblet-shaped Iranian hand drum) and the daf (Middle Eastern frame drum), he is a breathtaking hand percussionist of blinding speed and feather-light sensitivity. Not yet 40, Mortazavi, who now lives in Berlin, has dramatically advanced the possibilities of traditional Iranian drumming, developing dozens of new striking and fingering techniques—which hasn't always sat well with his unwavering elders. "Watching the unbelievably virtuosic soloist," says France's Arte magazine, "one could get the impression he does not have two, but at least six hands."