The members of Ashkhabad are Aisbai Taharykuilev (Born 1958, Ashkhabad, Turkmenistan; vocals, tar), Gussan Mamedov (Born 1956, Ashkhabad, Turkmenistan; violin), Sabir Rizaev (Born 1956, Mary, Turkmenistan; clarinet, saxophone, percussion), Kurban Kurbanov (Born 1961, Ashkhabad, Turkmenistan; accordion, piano) and Khakberdy Allamuradov (Born 1958, Kirov, Turkmenistan; dep, sarp, nagara). Named after the capital city of their native Turkmenistan (a former Soviet republic that borders with Iran), Ashkhabad are a group of musicians who individually built their reputations by playing in bands that performed at Muslim weddings. Surviving a state campaign against Islamic wedding music (at one point, Taharykuilev was confined to a mental institution for continuing to play it), the era of Perestroika heralded a new respect for the music, and following Aitbai's award of the title "honourable traditional musician of the people" by the newly independent republic, Ashkhabad were formed as a Muslim wedding music supergroup. The gruelling 12-hour sessions expected of bands playing at these functions ensured that the group were able to play with an intensity and cohesion that enabled them to transfer to the international world music circuit, following a much praised performance at the 1992 WOMAD festival in England. In the same year, the band also participated in the Real World studios recording week, during which they recorded City Of Love (the title is a literal translation of the band's name). Although firmly rooted in the traditional music of Turkmenistan (itself a mixture of Russian, Turkish and Iranian influences), Ashkhabad are also able to embrace a diverse variety of musical styles (e.g., jazz, rock, European classical) in their wild and joyously romantic sound.
City Of Love (Real World 1993)****.
Source: Encyclopedia of Popular Music