Rain Sultanov & Isfar Sarabski: Cycle



Track Listing: Prelude; Embryo; Planet; Tandem; Symbiosis; Orison; Oblivion; Reincarnation; Silence



Personnel: Rain Sultanov: soprano, tenor saxophones; Isfar Sarabski: organ, piano

Title: Cycle | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Ozella Music

Very often while listening to music we think about something personal. We recall images from our past or present, sometimes illusions and dreams take shape of short moving pictures.  They can be vivid or not, black and white or have vague shape. When listening to music we reflect, contemplate and travel in time and space.


Often we ask ourselves eternal questions of existence, birth and death. These questions and perhaps, answers as the basis that fully explains Mind and Soul, emerged in Rain Sultanov's project "the Cycle". This is not a philosophical essay, it is rather a mental representation of global and supra-conscious vision of music as human history, as evolution of the Spirit.  It is believed that human life includes seven cycles  - from Embryo to Oblivion. However, "the Cycle" describes the full circle till rebirth of our soul and body  - "Reincarnation". Nine phases are nine cycles of life, oblivion and rebirth, they are the time to realize the existence, love, cognition of the world and self.


"The Cycle" is not just a music project. This is creative tandem of two musicians – Rain Sultanov and Isfar Sarabski - who combined their compositions, thus, making a single energy space. Three instruments which have not been used before in combination are magically merged in one theme. Organ, saxophone and piano. They are a perfect combination and harmony in space. Each instrument brings its own philosophy in. Organ - divinity, saxophone - emotions, piano - evolution.


Organ as the basis of life, given from above, reminds about faith. It acts as the peacemaker, wizard, which the listener recalls with a pounding heart.  It explains the reasons and calms down bursting expression of the saxophone. The saxophone, like the life itself, raises questions. Saxophone demonstrates phases, cycles, creating subtle improvisations on the theme of existence. Piano supports the saxophone. It is like a friend or companion that is always around, helps to understand and sometimes also questions. Through evolving dialogue between the piano and organ, Isfar Sarabski sort of moderates a conversation that the universe conducts with itself. Both voices create harmony, repeat and support each other discovering the undeniable truth. Merging with saxophone, they get overwhelming strength, stunning and powerful cosmic stream. Unison of these three instruments is, probably, the best discovery made by Rain Sultanov.


"The Cycle" represents consequential phases of human genesis and evolution and explores various options of its development. Rain Sultanov describes emerging of spiritual society and rise of humankind to a higher level not as an utopia but reality that strives for self-expression. Life given to us as a form of perception has become "the Cycle" reborn in more sophisticated way. 


Shahin Novrasli: Emanation

Pianist and composer Shahin Novrasli has had the occasion to play some of the most prestigious stages in the world, such as London’s Royal Festival Hall, the Montreux Jazz Festival, the Black Sea Jazz Festival, Prague’s Mezinarodni Piano Festival and numerous clubs and festivals throughout the United States. 

Growing up in Azerbaijan, Shahin’s rare talent emerged from his country’s various compositional influences as well as its unusual and rich musical heritage.  

At the age of five, he began his classical studies at Azerbaijan's highest noted music school - The Bulbul Music School, and then at the Hajibeyoy Academy of Music. At only eleven years old, he performed with the local Symphony Orchestra at the Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Hall, and at eighteen, Shahin played Rachmaninoff’s infamous and arduous “Piano Concerto N°2″before an ecstatic audience.  

Elegantly blending his classical knowledge, Azerbaijan’s traditional folk “Mugham” and his jazz influences, Shahin created his own unique and accomplished musical universe, among which he combines eastern and western cultures. A gentle wave of exotic melodies, powerful and sharp harmonies, capricious eastern rhythms struck by an American Jazz lightning, majestic and vigorous. With a solo project, a trio with Ari Hoenig and Nathan Peck, countless collaborations with notably Kenny Wheeler, Iain Ballamy and Tim Garland, to name a few, Shahin is today an icon for Azerbaijan Jazz and has received enthusiastic comments from worldwide critics and audiences.


Track Listing: Intro – The White Birds of Qizilagac; The White Birds of Qizilagac; Up Lahij Mountains; Intro – On The Trail of Shirvan’s Gazelles; On The Trail of Shirvan’s Gazelles; On the Absheron Hook; Intro - Wild Wind of Zuvend; Wild Wind of Zuvend; Hirkan’s Colors; The Breath of an Caspian Volcano



Personnel: Rain Sultanov: soprano, tenor saxophones; Shahin Novrasli: piano; Linnea Olsson: cello, voice; Yasef Eyvazov: oud; Yasuhito Mori: double bass; Peter Nilsson: drums; Irakli Koiava: percussion.

Title: Inspired by Nature | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Ozella Music

Rain Sultanov: Inspired By Nature



Azerbaijani saxophonist/composer Rain Sultanov has long drawn inspiration from his country's rich culture and stunning landscapes. On Inspired by Nature—Sultanov's eighth release as leader—the saxophonist toggles between lyrical balladry and passionate exposition as he takes Azerbaijan's nature as his muse. And it has been an epic venture. With a band of trusted musicians, Sultanov led an expedition around Azerbaijan, recording the natural sounds they encountered in the great mountains, by the Caspian Sea and on the flat plains. These recordings and impressions were then transported to Jan Erik Kongshaug's Rainbow Studio in Oslo and musically shaped by Sultanov under the guidance of the legendary sound engineer. The result is music that is never less than engaging, and that at its best, exhibits haunting beauty. 

The bar is set high from the get go with "The White Birds of Qizilagac," an achingly lyrical composition of chamber jazz delicacy. Sultanov's soprano saxophone and cellist Linnea Olsson—who doubles on wordless vocals—carve the beguiling melody over a gentle pulse courtesy of Yashuito Mori's spare, richly sonorous double bass, Peter Nilsson's brushes and Irakli Koiava's gentle metallic percussion. These elements are the currents buoying pianist Shahin Novrasli's gliding, soaring flights in this quietly stunning opener. 

Drama courses through the up-tempo "Up Lahij Mountains," with Novrasli and Sultanov unleashing energized yet contrasting solos over Nilsson and Mori's viscous rhythms—the pianist's lines smooth-flowing, the saxophonist all staccato bursts. For Sultanov, however, the composition is the thing, and nowhere is this better illustrated than on the minor epic "On The Trail of Shirvan's Gazelles," a slow-burning, Wayne Shorter-esque meditation that employs space to powerful effect. Novrasli's elegant solo—the left hand all but dormant—may be the centre-piece, but it's the simple beauty of saxophone and cello entwined in melody that remains foremost in the mind. 

Sultanov juggles his ensemble to suit the mood: piano quartet carries "On the Absheron Hook," a nostalgic chamber piece uplifted by Mori's earthy bass improvisation; the trio of Yasef Eyvazov on oud, Sultanov on soprano saxophone and Koiava's deft percussion combine on the atmospheric intro to "Wild Wind of Zuvend," which then erupts into emotively charged modal terrain, with Sultanov and Novrasli sparring over a rumbling, broiling rhythmic stew. 

Sultanov switches to tenor saxophone on the slower "Hirkan's Colors," where, shadowed on the defining melody by Ollson's cello, the saxophonist's subsequent yearning solo inspires an emotive response from the more expansive Novrasli. Oud, tenor and piano pass the baton in a series of plaintive, blues-infused solos on "The Breath of An Caspian Volcano," with Koiava's sotto voce udu providing the sole accompaniment. 

An over-arching emotive vein permeates the music, whose suite-like qualities are perhaps best appreciated in uninterrupted flow. There's stark beauty in Sultanov's open love letter to his country -an intimate narrative that fires the imagination, and ultimately, seduces the heart.