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CD Review: Rahman Asadollahi and the Azerbayjani Folkloric Music Orchestra
The Best of Rahman

Rahman Asadollahi, accordion


CD No. 1 (all compositions by Rahman Asadollahi)
Gozum Hashla Dolmasin

CD No. 2
Sue Sapmisham
Gonakh Glajack
Aziz Ana
Suilaa Suilaa

total time: CD No.1 56min 53 sec.
CD No.2 63 min.26 sec.
released: 1998

label: self-produced
call (408) 847-8811 on West Coast of US and (301) 899-2828 on East Coast of US

Review by Robert Karl Berta:

WOW...what a nifty CD set. The story of how I came to learn of this CD is interesting. I received a video tape of a couple of performances of this artist and orchestra in Azerbayjan from a gentleman in California. To say that the folk music was very different from my normal western styles of music was an understatement. Besides the incredibly moving and fine performances by the composer and performer Rahman Asadollahi I was taken by the many fascinating folk instruments used by the orchestra. Since the CD booklet notes were extremely limited, I contacted the gentleman who sent it to me for more information.

Turns out that Asadollahi (who received two honorary musical achievement degrees from the Azerbayjan State Music University and the Conservatory of Music of Azerbayjan) is a good friend of his and is a very famous performer and composer in his homeland who now lives in Germany. In addition Asadollahi performed in a contest in a 1995 European accordion championship and won first prize. Sadly the artist came down with cancer and is presently recovering. To offset his expenses his friends released this 2 CD set. All proceeds are going to offset his medical bills. A tour of the United States may be forthcoming.

On this CD set you will hear some music that will likely give you an opportunity to experience a style of music you might have never heard before. The styles of folk music here range from lush tone-poem selections complete with background sound effects (Gouroush) to very contemplative selections reminding me of a call to prayer in the Islamic tradition. Other selections give Asadollahi an opportunity to flex his considerable improvisation skills (Sue Sapmisham). Asadollahi performs on a most unique accordion: the garmon. It is held on with one shoulder strap and the right hand is used in 4 finger chromatic style with the thumb pushing the side of the accordion against the one strap.

Throughout the CD Asadollahi is accompanied by the orchestra which uses a combination of folk instruments, some western instruments and even a synthesizer for effect. Quite an interesting and curious combination. There are plenty of opportunities to hear the fine orchestra and its many varied instruments as well as solo performances by Asadollahi.

This CD will give most of us a breath of fresh air; I truly enjoyed listening to this CD. At first my ear took a while to get used to the "new" sound but I found myself coming back time and again to hear repeated plays and discovering many of the nuances that Asadollahi uses. For musicians looking for some really different "licks" to learn you will find a goldmine here. Sound-wise the recording is professionally done with fine sound, good layout and beautiful artwork of the artist's portrait on the cover.

There is only one thing lacking on the CD and that is historic information about the folk music of Azerbayjan and English translations of the names of the tunes. Since most of the listening audience (at least in my country, the United States) may find this CD unfamiliar, I am sure many would have a curiosity for learning more about such a fascinating folk music. This is one CD I am sure that many will find worth a repeat listen often. I recommend this CD as an excellent choice whether you are interested in folk music or simply looking for a breath of fresh air.

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