Latvian world jazz ensemble Baraka focuses on the ancient Persian ghazal tradition that spread throughout Central Asia (Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan). Three female vocalists appear on Gole Sangam: Tajik traditional singer Zarina Tadjibaeva, Baraka’s regular soloist Devika Evsikova and spoken word artist Iran Raihi, who recites verses written by contemporary Iranian poets.
Even though Baraka specializes in what they call ethno jazz, this project sounds like a smooth jazz ensemble backing the vocalists. The fusion could have worked better with less saxophone and some additional traditional instruments. Aside from the vocals and percussion, there is barely any Central Asian musical influence.
Personnel: Zarina Tadjibaeva on lead vocals; Devika Evsikova on vocals, bass, Chapman stick, fretless bass, Rhodes piano; Iran Raihi on spoken word; Deniss Pashkevich on saxophone and flute; Artem Sarvi on Hammond organ, Rhodes and synthesizer; Egor Kovaikov on acoustic and electric guitar, sitar; Dmitry Evsikov on bongo, conga, darbuka, ghatam, clay pot, daff; Marcis Vasilevskis on electric guitar; Vilnis Kundrats on tenor saxophone; Artur Kupetov on electric guitar; Madars Kalniņš on Hammond organ and synthesizer; Zigmund Kukovsky on bass; Janis Amantov on trumpet.
Shams is a 2-CD set by Latvian band Baraka. They describe their music ethno jazz, a term used in Eastern Europe to describe fusions of jazz and world music. Baraka’s sound is rooted in Tajik traditions as well as jazz. Most of the material on Shams are smooth jazz songs featuring vocals by Devika Evsikova spiced up with acoustic musical instruments from Tajikistan, India and other parts of the world.
The highlights of the album are the Tajik funk sections along with the tasty electric piano, sitar and rubob solos.
The lineup includes Devika Evsikova on vocals, bass; Dmitry Evsikov on all percussion, arrangements; Artem Sarvi on piano, keyboards, arrangement; Deniss Pashkevich on flute, sax, bass clarinet, Egor Kovaikov on guitar, sitar, rubob, setor, dutor, vocal; Madars Kalninš on piano, keyboards; Viktor Ritov piano, keyboards; Raivo Stašans on saxophone; Valery Korotkov on piano, synths, arrangements; Omed Dost on vocals; Normund Piesis on flugelhorn, trumpet; Sergey Gasanov on saz, dilruba, duduk, vocals; Zigmund Žukovsky on bass; Alijon Boynazarov on rap; Govinda Tiwari on vocals; Alex Suris on accordion; Basel Wehbe on vocala; and Vilnis Kundrats on saxophone.
The set comes nicely packaged in a hard cover sleeve with a CD booklet that includes illustrations and credits.
World music band Baraka remixed traditional Pamir music recorded by folk band Samo and the result is Samo Remix. While Samo provided vocals and traditional acoustic instruments from the Pamir Mountains in Tajikistan, Baraka added electronic keyboards, electric guitars, bass and additional percussion.
Although this a remix, it’s not an electronic dance music recreation. Instead, Baraka inject contemporary jazz and trip hop. The remix also includes three rappers on a handful of pieces. I usually find rapping extremely annoying in world music albums. Thankfully, the rapping by Mister Ruslan is essentially spoken word, which fits much better with the world jazz arrangements.
Baraka is based in the Baltic nation of Latvia. They are known for performing world music with a jazz edge, combining Central Asian music with jazz improvisation and electronics. The Samo Remix project came about when Baraka ensemble leader Dmitry Yevsikov traveled to Tajikistan in 2015. There, Samo played a home concert for him and Baraka was given a CD with Samo’s music and made a promise to respond to it. Samo Remix is the answer, a European tribute to the sounds of the Pamir.
“We decided to preserve the original vocal line in most compositions in its entirety,” explains Dmitry Yevsikov. “If possible, not to cut vocals into bits, so that even in the new arrangement those who speak the language could hear the Sufi message that comes through the ages.”
The Baraka musicians who created Samo Remix include Dmitry Yevsikov on mridangam, ghatam, darbuka, tabla, congas, bongos; Devika Yevsikova, his daughter, on vocals, Chapman stick, fretless bass, and bass guitar; Viktor Rytov and Artem Savry on Rhodes piano; Yegor Kovaykov on guitar and badakshani setor; Artur Kutepov on guitar; Denis Pashkevich on tenor saxophone; and Raivo Stasans on soprano saxophone.
Samo means “sky”. It’s a group of musicians from the Pamir, who started performing together in 2006. Their permanent headquarters is the Gurminj Museum of Musical Instruments in the city of Dushanbe, Tajikistan. There, instruments are on display, Samo’s rehearsals are held, and recordings are made. Samo perform in the museum regularly and at other venues. They toured in Germany in 2008 and the United States in 2009.
Samo perform the ancient music of the Pamir, based on the verse of the classical Persian poets: Rumi, Hafiz, Sherazi, and Khayyam. Their lyrics’ often focus on the spiritual path, described in metaphors and symbols. Their performances are mystic in nature and both musicians and the audience might slip into a trance-like state during the live shows. The Samo Group lineup includes Shavqmamad Pulodov on setar, rubab and vocals; Faizmamad Nazariev on rubab, tanbur and vocals; Shanbe Mamadgaminov on ghijjak, nay and vocals; Daler Pallaev on daf, tablak and vocals; and Qurbonhaseyn Alishaev on daf, tablak and vocals.
The rappers are Mister Ruslan, Imomdod Orifov, and Alijon Boynazarov
Samo Remix is a fascinating international collaboration featuring European musicians, a Tajik folk ensemble and rappers, released by a Russian record label.