Uzbek song is not well known here (even the pop music is obscure), but it is well worth investigating. I find that most of the traditional music coming out of Central Asia is beautiful and redolent of another time and place. That may eventually disappear with the assimilation of western harmonies and instrumentation, but thankfully the governments of these countries are trying to encourage the performance of the “older” sounds. I have very fond memories of listening to this music while sitting in the lovely back gardens of the Registan’s Maddrasas, in Samarkand. For me it is a wonderful synthesis of Persian, Arabic and Asian forms.
Gulzoda appeared at WOMEX in Santiago de Campostela a few years ago, and back then I despaired of being able to present anything from her performance due to the harsh stage lighting that pretty much whited out everything in the wide shot. But an invitation to attend a Maqam Forum (the classical music of Uzbekistan is called Maqam) this year got me inspired to dig into my footage to see if anything was salvageable, and so here is what I was able to put together.
In many of these songs, the singer starts out in quite a low register, but typically this is just the precursor to high-powered, higher register singing that can really blow a microphone away. And Gulzoda definitely has the chops to do it.
The song is called “Eshvoy” and the words are a poem dedicated to love itself, as well as a praise-song for the beloved, who walks through a garden in which all the flowers follow her. The singer wishes he were a bouquet of flowers, and his unrequited love makes his tears flow like the sea.
Accompanying Gulzoda are Bekzod Safarov (dutar, tanbur) and Farruh Vohidov (gijjak).