Kazakh folk singer and dombra player Zhusupbek Elebekov was born in 1904 in the Karagandy region of central Kazakhstan. He first studied music with his uncle Zhakypbek, and later with the well-known musician Ämre Qashaubaiuly (1888-1934), who apparently bequeathed his personal dombra (the long-necked, two-string lute of Kazakhstan, of which where are several types) to Elebekov, as a gesture indicating Elebekov’s excellence as a performer. Elebekov was part of various touring Kazakh dramatic troupes and worked as a touring musician and actor throughout the 1920s and 1930s, eventually solidifying his reputation as part of the Kazakh Philharmonic Society in the mid-20th century, as well as his work with a concert association known as Kazakhconcert until his death in 1977.
Elebekov was a singer of the Kazakh lyric folk song, known as änshilik. Lyric folk singing is different than Kazakh epic folk singing or the improvisational poetry tradition, although like those other traditions, it is always played with the dombra. The lyric folk singer draws more on ornamentation when singing, and frequently uses non-lexical vocables, especially in refrains (which you can hear on this track). The änshilik tradition apparently was most robust during the final decades of the 19th century.
The label of this 78 – recorded ca. 1954 – indicates that the “tune and words” were written by “Birzhan.” Birzhan is in fact Birzhan Sal, or Birzhan-sal Qozhagululy (1831-1894), a famous lyric singer and also the subject of a recent biographical film. The translated title or subtitle of this piece is “Wanderer.” More information on Elebekov as well as an entire CD worth of downloadable recordings can be found on the Musical Heritage of Kazakhstan website. (A performance of “Adaskak” is available for download, but it appears to be a different, later performance of the song by Elebekov, and suffers from some heavy-handed noise reduction.)
Label: Aprelevski Zavod (SSSR)
Issue Number: 23579 (a)
Matrix Number: 23579 / 3-4