The music of Azerbaijan was divided in the 19th century -- along with the culture in general -- as the region was halved between the Tsarists and the Persians. Music soon began following these separate lines rather than the old Azeri traditions. One style of music that survived on both sides of the divide, however, was that of the ashiq bards, relics from an earlier time. These bards primarily work with poetry on loves lost and the beauty of nature, which is supposed to drive them on. This can be heard in the rending delivery of the songs from the singers herein. Instrumental accompaniment is generally provided by the ashiq himself as well as a couple of assistants. There are elements related to Iranian music, to Turkish music, and to the music of the Turkic tribes, all incorporated over time, but always retaining a core of Azeri elements. The key feature of it all, though, is the vocal style. While powerful and brilliant, the trills and shouts will quite likely present a barrier to first-time listeners. Nonetheless, once that barrier is crossed, the passion of the bard can be heard, and it's certainly a passion worth experiencing.
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AllMusic Review by Adam Greenberg