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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Back now with DAY TO DAY. Imagine a global summit, but instead of world leaders you assemble musicians. To make his latest album, composer- producer Jamshied Sharifi did just that. Day to Day contributor Derek Rath spoke with Jamshied Sharifi, and has this review of his new album. It's called "One."

(Soundbite of music)

DEREK RATH: It's too bad the larger world can't be more like the world of musicians, where cultural differences are viewed in a positive way. As a source of inspiration, not suspicion. The title of Jamshied Sharifi's new album refers to that coming together.

(Soundbite of unidentified song)

Mr. JAMSHIED SHARIFI: The inspiration for the record's title is a very simple observation that I had while working with so many artists from around the world is that you know, what unites us is so much greater than what separates us. It's so easy for us to find common ground.

(Soundbite of unidentified song)

RATH: The title track "One" exemplifies an effortless fusion. It includes Tibetan, West African and Japanese vocals; Egyptian oud; and talking drums in a rich orchestral palette.

(Soundbite of unidentified song)

RATH: Consider Jamshied's own upbringing. Born and raised in Topeka, Kansas, he was exposed to Middle Eastern music and jazz by his Iranian father. His American mother taught him European classical and church music. He went on to study jazz piano, composition and film scoring at Berklee College in Boston. And you can hear all these elements on this track, "Setup," featuring Susan Day Hee (ph) on vocals.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. SHARIFI: It is a record in which you can hear the - definitely the hand of an arranger. And you can also hear people improvising. You know, I wanted to give space for some of the great players that I knew.

(Soundbite of song)

RATH: It's a transcultural all-star ensemble. Jamshied, himself a multi-instrumentalist, wrote much of the material with specific instrumentalists and singers in mind, including some of the best-known world music stars. Listen to these names: Hassan Hakmoun, Abdoulaye Diabate, Paula Cole, Yungchen Lhamo and Vishal Vaid. You can hear their inspiration on every track, and the results are dramatic.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. SHARIFI: Every one of them brought more to the table than I would have expected. Those things altered, in some cases, the form of the track. Absolutely they altered the balance of other elements. I remember several of the vocalists coming up with parts, especially some of the rhythmic, chanting things that you hear in the background. And those, of course, affected the piece.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. SHARIFI: I mean, really, every phase of the process would send me back to the drawing board.

(Soundbite of music)

RATH: In the track "Darfur Is Burning," Jamshied orchestrates a kaleidoscope of music from both the East and the West.

(Soundbite of song "Darfur is Burning")

RATH: "Darfur Is Burning" was inspired by the work of writer Primo Levi, an Italian survivor of Auschwitz.

Mr. SHARIFI: He said people have said about the Holocaust "never again," and yet it's happened already, and he pointed to Cambodia. And he says it will happen again and we are, it seems, powerless to stop it.

(Soundbite of song "Darfur is Burning")

RATH: There is wry political commentary elsewhere as well. Take the title of this track, "As Mosst Keh Bar Mosst."

Mr. SHARIFI: Which basically means the terrible situation that we find ourselves in is one of our own making. I was trying to think of a suitable title for the Iraq War. I thought - maybe a shorthand for that would be, we really stepped in it this time.

(Soundbite of song "As Mosst Keh Bar Mosst.")

RATH: One poignant moment comes in "Requiem," dedicated to those who lost their lives on 9/11. It's personal, as Sharifi lived in lower Manhattan just blocks from Ground Zero.

Mr. SHARIFI: That track is a response to that. The voices that you hear running through it very softly are my wife and daughter doing a very innocent, kind of almost like a pygmy chant. And you know, I just wanted to write something that reflected the sadness of the moment for me, the sense of so many people being lost.

(Soundbite of song)

RATH: Essentially, Jamshied Sharifi's CD "One" is a celebration of international musicians exploring and thriving on their differences, becoming one.

(Soundbite of song)

RATH: For NPR News, this is Derek Rath.

BRAND: Want more? You can hear full songs from Jamshied Sharifi's new album at our music website, npr.org/music.

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