Alim Qasimov, born in 1957 in Shamakha is an Azerbaijani musical legend, revered as one of the five best singers of all time. Qasimov is known for his work in traditional Azerbaijani music and more specifically his renderings of mugham and ashiq.
Mugham is a traditional, or classical, musical style which has its origins in the Caucasus and the Turkish-speaking peoples of Central Asia. The word mugham itself derives maqam, denoting the modus in Arabic music, The notion of mugham also applies to the performers: the singer, and the ensemble. Within the latter you’ll always find three instruments: the tar (lute), the standing kamanche (violin) and the daf.
Ashiq, the rural bardic tradition that is found in Turkey, Azerbaijan and the Azeri region of Iran.
Qasimov has released several albums, toured the world’s most prestigious venues and festivals and in 1999, won the prestigious UNESCO Music Prize, one of the highest international accolades that a musician can hope for. Previous laureates have included Dmitri Shostakovich, Leonard Bernstein, Ravi Shankar and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
Alim Qasimov has also participated in Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project, a celebration of the art and culture of the ancient Silk Road.
Fargana Qasimova, Alim’s daughter, has absorbed her father’s musical gift, and is well on the way to becoming a great singer in her own right.
In 2019, Qasimov released an avant-garde album titled Awakening, together with French serpent (a serpentine predecessor of the tuba) and bass player Michel Godard. Awakening includes Alim Qasimov on vocals and frame drum; Michel Godard on serpent and bass; Salman Gambarov on piano; and Rauf Islamov on kamancheh.
Classical Mugham (1996)
The Legendary Art of Mugham (Network, 1997)
The Art of Mugham: Azerbaijan (Ocora, 1997)
Love’s Deep Ocean (Network, 1999)
Spirit of the East, with Esti Kenan Ofri (Magda Music, 2000)
Central Asian Series, Vol. 6: Spiritual Music of Azerbaijan (Smithsonian Folkways, 2007)
Intimate dialogue – Live at Morgenland Festival Osnabrück (2009)
Rainbow: Music Of Central Asia Vol. 8 [CD + DVD] (Smithsonian Folkways, 2010)
Awakening (Buda, 2019)