Tortadur (Sevaramusic, 2011)
Often our first taste of a new musical flavor is bold. On her latest recording Sevara Nazarkhan introduces listeners to traditional Uzbek music by steeping them by inching in a serene seduction. Tortadur quietly culls and lulls the listener with the delicate richness of a side of Uzbek music many never knew existed or have been passed over for brighter, bolder flavors.
Ms. Nazarkhan explains, “I wanted to express the salt of our earth, so to speak. People have forgotten, or simply don’t know, about this wonderful, rich side of our music, music that is very subtle and express our past.”
Assembling a group of musicians that is a sort of who’s who in traditional Uzbek music, Ms. Nazarkhan steps back and allows the music to emerge instead of pounding out tracks. The effect is dark, dreamy and utterly luscious. Backing her ache laced vocals are doutar player Temur Makhmudov, tambour player Farkod Mirzaev, doira player Kudrat Samadov, gijjak player Akhmadjon Dadaev, nai player Abdulakhad Abdurashidov and qonun player Abdurakhmon Holtojiev. The compositions are not spare, but intimate and deliberate in their evocative purpose.
Pooling a collection of songs fashioned from tales told by poets Moghul, Bobur and Sufi master Mashrab, Tortadur is intended to evoke the “spirit of traditional parties, when women would gather for music, tea, and talk.” Ms. Nazarkhan even treats listeners of the tradition of singing into a tea saucer on the track “Yovvoi Tanovar,” whose quiet beauty is simply stunning.
Listeners are treated opulent gems like “Qoshchinor,” “Girya” and “Eum Sarvi Ravon,” as well as the lovely “Savti Kalon Soqinomasi” and “Sharob.” Treats include “Galdir Talqinchasi” with Ms. Nazarkhan’s vocals sitting center stage against the rougher vocals of the male musicians and the 20th century anti-Russian freedom song “Qarghalar,” with its haunting traveling train background.
Ms. Nazarkhan explains Tortadur this way, “What I wanted to show with this album was very clear: the beauty of the melodies, the language, and the instruments. I wanted to show that our traditions have meaning, not only as a part of the Turkic world, but to everyone.”