Isfar Sarabski

Young Azerbaijani Pianist Holds Concert in Paris

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

Azerbaijani pianist Isfar Sarabski held a concert in Paris on December 16.

Held at the world-famous Le Duc des Lombards, Sarabski’s concert was organized by the French office of The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS).

Le Duc des Lombards, one of the main jazz clubs in France, has hosted an array of visiting stars that have performed alongside the best French talents during the past three decades.

Opening the event, TEAS France head Eliza Pieter introduced Sarabski, the winner of the solo piano prize at the Montreux International Jazz Festival 2009.

“This is an exceptional concert by one of the most talented young Azerbaijani pianists, Isfar Sarabski, who specializes in Azerbaijani jazz. This is his second concert at the Duc des Lombards club. Isfar has won numerous awards, including one at the Montreux International Jazz Festival. He performs in the classic jazz style, mixed with mugham, the traditional music of his homeland,” she said.

The program by Isfar and his trio included his own variations on Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” Ballet and the passionate “Oblivion” by Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla.

However, Isfar’s own compositions dominated the program, including the contemplative “Transit to New York”, inspired by his extensive touring schedule; “Novruz”, which incorporated eastern harmonies; the rhapsodic “Dèja-Vu”, where bassist Makar Novikov played in a mugham style on a bowed bass; and “G-Man”, his own composition which provided an opportunity for an exciting call-and-response sequence between Isfar and drummer Alexander Mashin.

A standing ovation prompted Isfar and his musicians to play an encore of “Agent”, the exciting piece based on repeated riffs that enabled all three musicians to demonstrate their abilities.

Jazz has retained a longstanding popularity in Azerbaijan, not least due to the fact that its improvised nature has some similarities to Azerbaijani mugham. Annual international jazz festivals have been held in the capital Baku since 2002.

Sarabski regularly performs in the Baku Jazz Centre, which hosts concerts every evening, and at the Baku International Jazz Festival, which has hosted a range of international and Azerbaijani performers, including Billy Cobham, Joe Zawinul, and Herbie Hancock.

Isfar began playing the piano at the age of seven. He studied classic piano for eleven years at the Bulbul Music School in Baku.

Isfar’s early influences included Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie, while Keith Jarrett, Brad Mehldau, Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, and Vagif Mustafazadeh have inspired Sarabski to compose his own music.

To date, 25-year-old Sarabski has participated in the annual Sildajazz festival in Norway and the International Jazz Festival in Russia.

He also received awards at “Stars of Issyk-kul” International Classical and National Music Festival in Kyrgyzstan in 2004.


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