Alim Qasimov

Azerbaijan: Art of the Mugham

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Ever hear an opera singer take an uninteresting piece of music and turn it into a showcase for pointless vocal pyrotechnics? Unless you're a cult follower of the singer, it's pretty boring. Well, apparently they have the same phenomenon in Azerbaijan. Alim Quasimov has the most amazing glides and ululations and can stretch his vocal production to incredible lengths. But it's boring here. The melody gets buried under all the ornament; it's all sung at a numbing mid-tempo; he's constantly at the top of his compass; it's just static. The irony is that the instruments are good and quite listenable. It's a trio with Quasimov on the daf frame drum and the brothers Mansurov on the tar lute and kamancha fiddle. Too bad it isn't possible to excise the vocals and just listen to them. For specialists only.

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