"Mugam," sometimes called "muqam," is a musical tradition found all around the Arab world, from Turkey all the way to West China, among the Uighurs. Although basically the same, there is a large variety of regional variations in terms of styles of singing, instruments used, poetry sung, etc. The mugam of Azerbaijan is sung by a single singer, generally accompanied by a fiddle, a lute, and percussion. A mugam is comprised of a series of melodies, some of which are written and others half-improvised, alternating between sung and instrumentals. These melodies also alternate between different modes and rhythmic character, the variety and characters of which determine the expressive and musical mood of the mugam. A mugam performance can last for hours. Sakine Ismaïlova is among today's most important and most talented Azeri mugam singers, alongside Alem Kassimov. Her voice shows an incredible suppleness and elegance, most appropriate for singing the variety of moods expressed in mugam.
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AllMusic Review by Bruno Deschênes