Yerboli Ahmethan (葉爾波利), a Kazakh musician born in 1981 and raised in China's Xinjiang Uigur Autonomous Region. Although he started learning the dombra, a traditional stringed instrument common in Central Asia, at the age of 5, Ahmethan says he also spent his youth listening to the likes of Frank ZappaAC/DC and “all kinds of rock ’n’ roll.” Ahmethan now plays Kazakh folk music — which reflects a combination of “Islamic and Mongolian culture” — but with his own twist. He rearranges traditional songs, adding elements of improvisation and displays of virtuosity on the dombra. He says half of his material consists of original songs, which mix Kazakh lyrics and music with contemporary forms like reggae, folk and rock. The dombra features prominently in Ahmethan’s debut CD, Kazakh Spirit, which Ahmethan released on his own last year. The instrument, which has two nylon strings, a pear-shaped body and slender neck, was traditionally used as accompaniment for Kazakh folk songs and poems.Ahmethan started to rediscover his musical and cultural roots when he moved to Beijing in 2000. There he played in IZ, the locally renowned band led by fellow Kazakh musician Mamuer Rayeskan (馬木爾). Ahmethan met his manager and close friend, Tu Fei (塗飛) on a visit to Shenzhen, where he gigs regularly with his current three-piece band, which will also be in Taipei this weekend. Tu encouraged Ahmethan to go back to his “roots” while exploring “world fusion” music. Tu says Ahmethan’s current interests include working with avant-garde and free-jazz musicians.
But Ahmethan doesn’t intend to put the dombra down again. “His biggest goal,” says Tu, “is to let more people around the world know about Kazakh culture.” (David Chen @ Taipei Times, Mar, 2009)
I met Yerboli and his incredible fellow musicians ( Wen Feng, Liao Kai & Xiao Yu) when I was living in Shenzhen. I had the opportunity to collaborate with some photographs to their album Kazakh Spirit. Have a look/listen here or here.

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