Azerbaijani Jazzman Impresses Londoners

Ronnie Scott’s jazz club, which ranks high amongst the preeminent clubs in Europe, had the opportunity to experience music performed by talented Azerbaijani jazz musician Isfar Sarabski on August 10, PRWEB Online Press Release Distribution Service reported.

Sarabski gave an unforgettable concert to the London audience, as part of the second Ronnie Scott’s Piano Trio Festival, sponsored by The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS).

Following his acclaimed concert at the club in February, Isfar was invited for a swift return visit to the festival, filling the headline slot between trios led by the Los Angeles-based Gerald Clayton and the UK’s own Ashley Henry.

Playing with his longstanding bassist Makar Novikov alongside guest British drummer Corrie Dick, his work is inspired by elements of Mugam and other folk music of his homeland, giving his pieces an unusual charm.

The set, which almost entirely includes his own compositions, began with the delicate, rhapsodic introduction to 'Déjà vu' before settling into a rhythmic groove that provided the opportunity for him to show off his formidable command of the keyboard, effortlessly jumping octaves to reach new heights of improvisation.

This was followed by a pensive and mystical introduction by Isfar to his variations on themes from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake Ballet, which swiftly transformed into a compulsive, funky groove, with Isfar’s nimble fingers evoking thoughts of cygnets dancing at impossible speeds.

The mood continued into 'Transit to New York,' which began with a bass introduction. Isfar then developed the theme at an exhilarating pace before handing over to guest drummer Corrie Dick, who gave an innovative and compelling solo.

'Edge' began with Isfar reaching into his Steinway to thoughtfully pluck the strings, before exploring the mugham-influenced harmonies of his Eastern homeland, adopting a hypnotic rhythm and perfectly demonstrating his unique distillation of jazz, classical, and Azerbaijani national influences. After a delicate segue, the tempo increased, and the excitement reached a new level.

'Generation' was in a dramatic minor key and featured an interesting call-and-response passage with Makar Novikov. Isfar returned to the rhythms and harmonies of Azerbaijan with 'Novruz,' written by him in 2008 under impressions from Azerbaijan’s national holiday.

Propelled by Corrie Dick’s drumming, Isfar’s improvisations became increasingly daring and impressive.

The set concluded with one of Isfar’s most popular compositions – 'G Man' – which began with a Bachian introduction, before developing a funky bassline that gave rise to Isfar’s evermore inventive octave-jumping improvisations.

Isfar began playing the piano at the age of seven. He studied classic piano for eleven years at the Bulbul Music School in Baku. His early influences included Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie, while Keith Jarrett, Brad Mehldau, Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, and Vagif Mustafazadeh inspired Sarabski to compose his own music.

The musician has won many prestigious awards for his talents. Isfar was the winner of 2009 Montreux Jazz Festival at the age of 19.

His music skillfully mixes classical American origins with Azerbaijan’s traditional mugam, to form the mugam-jazz-fusion performed by such emblematic artists as Vagif Mustafazadeh (the father of "jazz princess Aziza") or Bayati Shiraz.