In 2006 guitarist Eric Tompkins and singer Neda Jalali began a creative collaboration that would draw from their richly diverse musical backgrounds. For many years Eric had been gigging in jazz bands, country bands, and playing many other styles of music. His reputation as a talented and eclectic musician led to the November 2005 collaboration with the Prince George Symphony Orchestra. The concert, titled "The Grand Bazaar" was based on his Fellini's Hat Band CD and featured Eric's compositions, arrangements and guitar playing.
Originally from Iran, Neda Jalali lived for many years in Washington DC and London, England where she performed Persian pop and traditional music. She frequently shared the stage with well known Iranian performers such as Hayedeh, Aslani, Moein and Leyla. In June 2006 she met Eric and has since moved to Canada.
Eric's experience playing jazz and Latin music and his interest in World music perfectly compliments Neda's beautiful Persian singing.
In the summer of 2006 they performed at a number of festivals, including the Prince George Folk Festival. In the fall of 2006 they began rehearsing, performing and recording. From this Navaz was formed. In June of 2007 they released their first CD, Navaz: East of West, which was launched with a tour of British Columbia and Washington State. Much of the music of Navaz is rooted in the Sufi poetry of Hafez and Rumi, while some of it has a more contemporary Persian sound fused with Spanish and Brazilian rhythms. One of their strengths is their versatility.
Although Neda's background is Persian, she sings in Spanish, Italian, French and English. Edith Piaf, Googoosh, and a hauntingly familiar Patsy Cline are all part of their repertoire. As their name suggests - Navaz translates from Farsi as "caressing" and "playing music" - the music will make you want to dance or take you on an exotic journey to far away places.