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Jazz - Released April 30, 2021 | WM Germany

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Qobuzissime
In a world that is so fond of reducing and simplifying everything it comes accross, Isfar Sarabski is at risk of being nicknamed "the Azeri Tigran". But the Baku pianist is far from being a photocopy of his Armenian colleague. Of course, he comes from "the East", listens to more than just jazz, and has certainly been influenced by the folk music of his ancestors... But Isfar Sarabski is very much his own artist with his own identity. His first album Planet (a Qobuzissime!) is jazz to the bone both in its approach to improvisation and the exchanges that Sarabski develops with his impeccable rhythm section, composed of two American aces: drummer Mark Guiliana and double bassist Alan Hampton, as well as the way Sarabski integrates space into the music. A student of the prestigious Berklee College of Music and winner of the International Competition of the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2009, the 30-year-old Azeri sometimes shows flashes of Brad Mehldau – the presence of Guiliana helps the comparison – but he also ventures into the classical minimalist approach of the Nils Frahm/Max Richter/Ólafur Arnalds school... The participation of the Main Strings Ensemble and the Baku Strings Quartet amplifies links which are more impressionistic than genetic. Isfar Sarabski also has a strong sense of narrative, as shown with the respect given for Mugham tradition (a mix of jazz and traditional Azeri music largely popularised by the late Vagif Mustafazadeh) on The Edge and Novruz, for which he invited Shahriyar Imanov, a player of the târ, the long-handled lute which is a part of Azerbaijani musical culture. Even when he has fun revisiting an aria from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, he brings a flavour which is all his own. We leave Planet Sarabski with a desire to return as soon as possible, especially since this beautiful acoustic album does not show every side of Sarabski’s talent, as he is also an electro experimenter in his spare time... © Marc Zisman/Qobuz