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Best of Zoroofchi (Live)

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Album Review

The best way to explain Zoroofchi might be to say that he's the Al Jolson of Azarbaijan. That's not as ridiculous as it sounds; Azarbaijan became a Russian possession in the early 19th century and seems to be considerably Westernized. This album, which was the first CD recorded in the Azari language, consists of large-scale numbers with Zoroofchi's stadium-filling tenor backed by an orchestra of mixed Western and local instruments — strings and piano meet dumbeks and dudeks. There are MIddle Eastern rhythms and Western harmony. The dynamics and sense of drama are unequivocally Western, rather like Henry Mancini, and they'll be considered hokey by some listeners.

Having said that, Zoroofchi has a wonderful voice, easily of the caliber of a great operatic tenor like Carreras. He mixes Western coloratura techniques with Middle Eastern decorations like ululations, and somehow it all works. While some of the songs are a trifle routine, the passion of "Salam Gater Misham" will knock you off your feet, and the moody Middle Eastern instrumental riffs of "Yar Olmaz" may just saturate your soul. Romantic, sentimental, and exotic like an old soundtrack.

Best of Zoroofchi (Live), Yaghob Zoroofchi
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