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GUNESH ENSEMBLE

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Turkmenistan


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Gunesh Ensemble biography
The band was established still in Soviet Turkmenistan as vocal band with some support musicians by Turkmenistan State Radio and TV company. Later more young musicians came to play and band's music became more modern. At that time characteristic style was formed as mix of traditional Central Asian mugams and jazz rock arrangements. With such music band participated in some popular festivals around Soviet Union, received some trophies and became popular. Their first LP was released in 1980 at soviet state label "Melodyja" and contained traditional central Asian music in jazz-rock arrangements plus Vietnamese singer. Second LP was released after 4 years. Music there was more modern, and it became very popular all around the country. Later these two LP's were re-released on "Rishad Shafi presents Gunesh" CD. Band participated in many jazz-festivals all around Eastern Europe, Africa and Central Asia. Second CD ( or third album) was recorded in 1990 only.

Line-up was changed many times, around 65 musicians have been a band's members in different time, and in fact soon became drummer Rishad Shafi and team of often changed musicians band.

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GUNESH ENSEMBLE discography


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GUNESH ENSEMBLE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 2 ratings
Gunesh
1980
4.73 | 13 ratings
Вижу Землю (Looking at the Earth)
1984
3.78 | 9 ratings
45 Degrees Centigrade In a Shadow
1999

GUNESH ENSEMBLE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

GUNESH ENSEMBLE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

GUNESH ENSEMBLE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.67 | 13 ratings
Rishad Shafi Presents: Gunesh
1999

GUNESH ENSEMBLE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.14 | 2 ratings
Gunesh
1979
2.00 | 1 ratings
Девушка/Обман (Girl/Cheating)
1980

GUNESH ENSEMBLE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Gunesh by GUNESH ENSEMBLE album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Gunesh
Gunesh Ensemble Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars The GUNESH ENSEMBLE (Гунеш) actually formed all the way back in 1970 and went through various lineups. In the beginning the ensemble was featured on the State TV And Radio Company Of The Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic, now more familiar as Turkmenistan. While the band began as a vocal group with supporting instrumentation, it was the drummer Rishad Shafi who had the itch to pursue the jazz-fusion world and attracted other members who wished to do the same.

Throughout the 70s the band entered contests throughout the Soviet Union and won first prize in many of the competitions for their highly developed take on traditional mughams and jazz improvisations. A mugham is a very complex musical art that combines classical poetry and musical improv. It is a modal system, but unlike Western systems it is not only used with scales but rather is a collection of melodies that enrich the improvisation that is enhanced for a specific event. This can mean increased intensity, rising pitches or even fusing poetic interpretation into musical form. This is a very common art form in this part of the world.

After ten long years and countless performances the GUNESH ENSEMBLE finally released their debut album Гунеш (GUNESH) in 1980. Unlike the spectacular second release and mega-masterpiece "Вижу Землю (Looking At Earth)" which dosed everything jazz-world- fusion-rock in heavy steroids, this debut release finds the band on a less ambitious journey although it is by no means a sleeper. Whereas the second album finds any global influence fair game, this one is more focused on traditional Turkmen music with a healthy jazzy horn section mixed with some veritable progressive rock which is heard mainly in the drum section as well as with the guitar. This first release has a lot more tracks focusing on vocals and harmonies which are less frantic without the playful trumpets, trombones, flutes and keyboards that dominate the instrumentals.

While this debut album by the GUNESH ENSEMBLE isn't nearly as brilliant as the second, it is a beautiful debut that takes you to a lonely corner of the globe where very little is known to the average Westerner and extremely well progressive music like this shouldn't be missed. This album had only one vinyl release in 1980 and is probably impossible to find but fear not. Rishad Shafi released the first two albums on CD titled "Rishad Shafi Presents Gunesh."

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 Rishad Shafi Presents: Gunesh by GUNESH ENSEMBLE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1999
4.67 | 13 ratings

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Rishad Shafi Presents: Gunesh
Gunesh Ensemble Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

5 stars RISHAD SHAFI PRESENTS GUNESH is a compilation album released in 1999 and contains the first two albums of the GUNESH ENSEMBLE: 'Гунеш (Gunesh)' and 'Вижу Землю ( I See Earth)' Previously these two albums were only available on one initial vinyl pressing and have remained rare and most likely quite pricey if you can even find one. As a lover of this type of eclectic world fusion of ethnic traditional sounds and jazz-rock, i am eternally grateful that someone took the initiative to make this music available at a reasonable price.

The one drawback to this compilation is that not only does it contain zero bonus or extra tracks, it also omits two tracks from the debut album: 'Акжа Кепдери (4:03)' and 'Ялан (2:44). It also for some mysterious reason changed the titles of several tracks:

Original GUNESH album / RISHAD SHAFI PRESENTS'

Жиги-Жиги (Девушка) (3:42) / Младший Брат ' The Younger Brother

2. Туни Деряп (5:28) / Плач Шасанем ' The Lamentation Of Shahsanem

3. Акжа Кепдери (4:03) / omitted

4. Восточный Сувенир (4:58) / same title (Oriental Souvenir)

5. Кечпелек (7:08) / Горькая Судьба ' Bitter Fate

6. Ялан (2:44) / omitted

7. Коне Гузер (4:15) / Свидание С Милой ' Date With A Sweetheart

8. Арманым Галды (3:12) / Утолённая Любовь ' Requited Love

The pluses are that the packaging is bilingual in English and Russian and tells the story of the GUNESH ENSEMBLE's history in the Soviet Union era Turkmenistan and of course that this wonderful music is available on CD! This is worth the price of admission for the second album alone but six out of eight tracks off the debut album are quite worth hearing as well. Another band that i would've loved to hear a few more albums from.

Album 1 = 4 stars Album 2 = 5 stars Thus 4.5 rounded up

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 Gunesh by GUNESH ENSEMBLE album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Gunesh
Gunesh Ensemble Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars After two decent singles Gunesh would finally cap their own space for a full-length self-titled debut, always under the support of Melodyia.The legendary line-up appearing on the album was Stan Morozov on flute/sax, Rishad Safi on drums, Vladimir Belousov on bass, Mikhail Loguntsov on guitar and Shamamed Byashimov on keyboards.Yusif Aliev appears on trumpet, Alexander Stasukevich and Shamil Kurmanov on trombones and Ilyaz Redzepov, Khajiriza Ezizov on vocals, but I am not really aware if they were permanent members of the band.The album was released in 1980.

Some tracks of the previous singles of the band made it to the final cut of Gunesh'es debut and even them sound a lot better in the enviroment produced by the band over a full-disc performance, combining elements from Ethnic Music and Jazz Fusion in an impressive execution of technical accomplishment, composing talent and vocal passion.Shafi has to be one of the most underrated drummers of the genre, extremely fast and flawless, reminding a bit of ARTI I MESTIERI'S Furio Chirico.The music is mainly instrumental with a few excellent vocal explosions of Eastern Asian-styled lyrics (which of course I do not understand), but you should focus on the music, which is surprisingly energetic, technically amazing and extremely balanced between Ethnic tunes and super-tight Fusion, or if you like between complex twists and more dramatic overtones with a folky flavor.Fantastic guitars parts and solid bass work with Jazz, funky and Eastern influences, complemented by a discreet keyboardist, performing on his sole organ, and a huge brass and wind section with lots of sax and very cinematic display of a small trombone/trumpet orchestra.For the most of its length the album is fast-paced without singificant flaws, a good production and featuring endless interplays and solos with a slight sense of melody and a heavier amount of mourning vocal parts.

One of the well-hidden gems of 80's Jazz Fusion.Ethnic-oriented Fusion with melodramatic vocals and dense executions, definitely one of the most genuine and personal works of Fusion performed by an ex-Soviet group.No less than highly recommended, even if an original copy is pretty rare.

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 Девушка/Обман (Girl/Cheating) by GUNESH ENSEMBLE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1980
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Девушка/Обман (Girl/Cheating)
Gunesh Ensemble Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
2 stars In 1980 a second single appeared by Gunesh Ensemble on the Melodyia label.As with the first one, the band split sides with the famous Swedish Pop group Abba.

The opening tracks is ''Девушка'', the same with the one presented in the first single but now re-arranged with a better sound and overall delivered in more charming way.Some excellent bass lines, the Eastern-influenced sax moves and the more passionate vocals give the track a better value.The flute part of the previous edition has dissapeared, however some exciting work by the rhythm section is definitely rewarding.Notice also the nice psychedelic influences on the organ parts and the dicreet jazzy guitar work.The second track, ''Обман'' (Cheating), is way more commercial, led by a huge brass section and some extreme lyrical parts with an obvious traditional approach.A decent but repeated groove and the easy-going vocal work are all this track has to offer.

Slightly better than the debut single, this very rare work contains a nice Jazz/Folk/Brass Rock track, which defines Gunesh Ensemble's sound and if you come across a rare copy you should purchase it, if you are a fan of the style...2.5 stars.

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 Вижу Землю (Looking at the Earth) by GUNESH ENSEMBLE album cover Studio Album, 1984
4.73 | 13 ratings

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Вижу Землю (Looking at the Earth)
Gunesh Ensemble Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

5 stars Going through the tons of albums I have from Turkmenistan (ha!), I think i've found a favorite! The GUNESH ENSEMBLE (sometimes found only as Гунеш (GUNESH) was a highly eclectic and energetic group led by drummer Rishard Shafi. They were masters of jazz-fusion mixed with all things Central Asian folk including haunting chants and exotic instruments. Of course they even had a Vietnamese singer! After their first album of mostly folk material they really stepped it up and created something truly unique and unbelievable.

Вижу Землю (Looking At Earth) in an unearthly amalgation of musical majesticness. The album begins with a whispering wind and some temple bells before Russian dialogue ushers in some seriously deranged funkiness and energetic percussion and horns with some strange electronic 'talking.' The jazz-fusion doesn't waste any time getting warmed up. You know you're in for a very wild ride with this one. The album continues to surprise with abrupt changes but quite capable of sustaining a beautiful melody in the form of song or chant. The interplay of 10 plus instruments may be going on at any given moment. Absent are any influences from Western bands. All sounds original and isolated like it was all created in a remote area that still hasn't made contact with the Western world. However parts do remind me of Italian avant-proggers Area and the last cut sounds like a traditional Vietnamese song meets the Mahavishnu Orchestra.

If you like eclectic world fusion then you will love this. Must hear to believe.This album had only one vinyl release in 1981 and is probably impossible to find but fear not. Rishad Shafi released the first two albums on CD titled "Rishad Shafi Presents Gunesh."

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 Gunesh by GUNESH ENSEMBLE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1979
2.14 | 2 ratings

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Gunesh
Gunesh Ensemble Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars Ex-Soviet ensemble from Turkmenistan, started from Ashgabat in 1970 as a vocal group, but establishing a unique sound during the decade, having plenty of ethnic orientations and an overall jazzy attitude.Gunesh had many line-up changes but the group was built around drummer Rishad Shafi and sax player Stas Morozov.Apparently their first work was a 7'' vinyl single, where they shared sides with Abba (!), released on Melodyia.

It contains two compositions by Gunesh in a Jazz/Fusion/Brass Rock style, the first one entitled ''Невестки'' (''Daughter'') has a nice catchy groove and a strong Eastern-Asian influence with polyphonic vocals, featuring also some fine sax performance by Morozov.Still the track has an evident late-60's feeling overall.The second track ''Девушка'' (''Girl'') follows the same path, albeit a little more complicated, with a huge brass sound but also some light flute work, again the vocals have a strong oriental approach, but the instrumental parts are longer and the performance of the band a bit more adventurous.

Considering the scarcity of this single it shouldn't be among your priorities, even if you are a dedicated fan of Eastern-influenced Jazz Rock, and the only reason to obtain it is just historical.Of marginal interest only for collectors.

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 45 Degrees Centigrade In a Shadow by GUNESH ENSEMBLE album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.78 | 9 ratings

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45 Degrees Centigrade In a Shadow
Gunesh Ensemble Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by bungle77

4 stars The third and last album from the Turkmenistan band Gunesh Ensemble is surely the less inventive and the most conventional, but still remain a great album. More fusion oriented than it's predecessors, it's flawless denoting a huge music tecnique from all the members of the band. But overall shine the drum of Rishad Shafi, always able to give an extra to each song with his fantastic beats. 4 stars like 5 for Looking at the Earth are maybe too much, but this band was playing this music in the middle of central asia steps during the communism period, so 4 stars is the right value for this album.

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 Вижу Землю (Looking at the Earth) by GUNESH ENSEMBLE album cover Studio Album, 1984
4.73 | 13 ratings

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Вижу Землю (Looking at the Earth)
Gunesh Ensemble Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by bungle77

5 stars Leaded by one the finest prog drummer ever (Rishad Shafi) Gunesh Ensemble is maybe the greatest band from ex-URSS. They are exactly from Turkmenistan and in a nutshell they are a central asian sounding progressive horn rock/fusion group or maybe better a little orchestra. But Gunesh are better than that may imply. Looking at the Earth is their second album and surely the most progressive and best one. The album is a perfect mix of so many defferents ingrendients coming from western and oriental music: trippy Caucasus mountain music, Muslim prayer calls, psychedelia, hot fusion, Vietnamese traditional music, etc.. The unexpectedly beautiful arrangements appeared,and polirhythmic compositions with odd measure were further developed thematically. This is surely a must have for every prog lovers, maybe 5 stars is little bit too much, but if we contestualize it in the geographical area and in the history period we can justify the maximum vote

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 Rishad Shafi Presents: Gunesh by GUNESH ENSEMBLE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1999
4.67 | 13 ratings

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Rishad Shafi Presents: Gunesh
Gunesh Ensemble Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Two first original Gunesh albums released on one CD. Very interesting release!

The very first song is named by Soviet space center Baikonur in Kazakhstan and it begins with bombastic Kremlin bells sound and Soviet-time TV news translation about regular space-shuttle start. With some cosmic noises over it. But then the music begins...

Gunesh was very original and unusual band in Soviet early 80-s. They played high calibre spacey jazz-fusion, based around extremely capable drummer Rishad Shafi rhythms. Whenever based on Central Asian land, very important components of this instrumental music was Eastern folk traditions. Mix all together with psychedelic rock flavour, and you will have kind of "Central Asian Canterbury sound", or Gunesh music.

Band's first album was released in 1980, during first peak of rock movement in former USSR, and they participated in all main Rock Fests of that time. Never re-released, their debut, still available as Soviet time vinyl LP only, is extremely rare recording. Their second album (with quite different line-up, but based around Rishad Shafi excellent drumming as well) was released in 1984.

Even if some moments and total sound production often sound dated, these two albums ( both presented on this Czech-released compilation CD) could attract many spacey oriental psyche fusion fan by their unique atmosphere and excellent drummer work of Rishad Shafi.

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 45 Degrees Centigrade In a Shadow by GUNESH ENSEMBLE album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.78 | 9 ratings

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45 Degrees Centigrade In a Shadow
Gunesh Ensemble Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Joćo Paulo

5 stars For me the second album is so good like the first one. In spite of the first audition to be not much difficult, the next ones help to like more and more this work. Richard Shafi continues the fusion between the ethnic thing and the jazz, when great Zappian atmosphere is containing this album. If you like Frank Zappa you like this. It is a surprising band

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