Vox Tablet

The New Sound of Central Asia

The Alaev Family, from Tajikistan by way of Israel, turns traditional folk songs into infectious dance music

August 20, 2012
The Alaev Family.(Aliza Hayon)
The Alaev Family.(Aliza Hayon)

Originally from Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, and now based in and around Tel Aviv, the Alaev Family includes three generations of musicians. They’re led by Allo Alaev, the family patriarch, who’s now 80 and who spent 50 years as a percussionist with the Folk Opera of Dushanbe. These days he leads the seven-person family ensemble, which includes his sons and grandchildren. Together, they update traditional Jewish and Central Asian folk songs to create a propulsive and almost ecstatic new sound.

This month, the Alaevs concluded a world tour with a gig at Lincoln Center’s Out of Doors Festival. They also have a new CD, produced with Tamir Muskat, the drummer of the high-energy dance band Balkan Beat Box. And, come fall, they’ll be hitting the road once again, bringing their singular sound to the Netherlands and South Africa. Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry met most of the Alaev family in their midtown Manhattan hotel just days before their Lincoln Center performance. They spoke about how they came by their musical talent and about the origins of the songs they perform. And, periodically, they broke into spontaneous song. [Running time: 15:30.]

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Vox Tablet is Tablet Magazine’s weekly podcast, hosted by Sara Ivry and produced by Julie Subrin. You can listen to individual episodes here or subscribe on iTunes.

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