In his music, Isfar Sarabski, the 31-year-old pianist composer and arranger from Azerbaijan combines the adventurous nature of Nils Frahm with the dreamlike likeness of Ólafur Arnald, the electronic explorations of Martin Kohlstedt with the symphonic brilliance of Max Richter and the jazz virtuosity of Herbie Hancock. For him, genre boundaries are only there to connect them with one another through musical bridges.
The path that Sarabski has been following for over two decades was laid in his childhood. His mother is a violin teacher, his father a great music connoisseur who, in addition to jazz, rock, soul and funk, also appreciates Bach, Brahms and Beethoven. And his great-grandfather Huseyngulu Sarabski was revered in the Orient as a music pioneer, opera singer, musician, actor and playwright.
Music is unquestionably an important part of Isfar Sarabski’s genes. “My father’s vinyl records were literally my toys,” he recalls. “I was fascinated by the mechanics of the turntable, the big black discs, and of course the world of tones, harmonies and rhythms that revealed themselves. I remember exactly the feelings that my first perception of Dizzy Gillespie records, or even of recordings of the works of Bach and Chopin, triggered in me. How could it be that music could create images in my head? I had to find out . “My first pianistic attempts at a simple Casio keyboard at the age of four were followed by own piano, admission to a music school in Baku, learning the traditional Mugam improvisational language of his country, and discovering the catalog albums by Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis and Bill Evans.