THE JAZZ HISTORY
OF AZERBAIJAN

With them begins

the History of Baku Jazz

Author Rain Sultanov

 

 

 

Even though jazz music traces its origins to the beginning of the twentieth century, it made its way to Azerbaijan rather quickly, and already in the 1930s it was well-received by the elite circles in Baku and appreciated as one of the most interesting music genres.
It is widely known that the period of jazz history referred to as the Jazz Age featured New Orleanais jazz, or jazz traditionally played in New Orleans between 1900 and 1917, as well as by musicians from New Orleans who performed in Chicago and produced vinyl records from 1917 and throughout the '20s. At this time, Baku had approximately ten concert venues, including the Nikitin Brothers' Circus of Baku, Taghiyev's Theatre, the Palais de Cristal variety theatre, the hall of the Grand Hotel and others where touring musicians and theatre troupes from Russia and Europe would give performances.

 

Gramophone records of prominent American jazz musicians, such as Armstrong, Ellington, Fitzgerald, and later Simon, Davis, Coltrane and many others, began being imported from Russia, Europe and the Americas in this period. Thus the New Orleanais or traditional jazz gradually came to be absorbed into the music life of Baku.

 

As early as in 1907, the newspaper Kaspi placed an advertisement of the Gramophone Joint-Stock Company that offered readers to purchase any of the 20,000 records in 70 different languages available in stock in Baku. 

 

Concerts occurred rarely, but local musicians tended to purchase and treasure such records. They were then played in small musician circles, followed by discussions and attempts to understand the subtlety of the improvisation, the essence and the truth behind jazz music.

 

In 1922, the Soviet Union's first jazz orchestra was founded in Moscow. Its founder, Valentin Parnakh, was a poet, translator, dancer and theatrical figure. The orchestra was officially known as Valentin Parnakh's First Eccentric Jazz Band Orchestra in the RSFSR. On the evening of 20 June of the same year, the Chat Savage theatre in Baku hosted the performance of Black Betty, advertised at the time as a 'Negro sketch'.

In 1923, readers of the newspaper Вakinsky Rabochy were able tto come across the advertisement of the sheet music store of the People's Commissariat of Enlightenment (education ministry) that read: "LA-TEST DELIVERIES FROM MOSCOW, BERLIN, PETROGRAD AND PARIS! Singing and dancing all throughout: Foxtrot, Tango, Two-Step, One-Step, Romance, Operetta and others".

 

In July 1927, Russian singer of Afro-Mexican origin Coretti Arle-Titz gave a successful performance in Baku. She sang as part of the sensation sextet Kings of Jazz by Frank Withers with Sidney Bechet during their tour in the Soviet Union. Songs performed by Arle-Titz, however, were presented rather as 'African music' and not jazz.

 

Then came the '30s with names that became the driving force of later processes, the development and future flourishing of jazz in Azerbaijan; the figures, who made the history of music, masters of the classical, popular and folk music; those who already at that time knew and understood exactly how jazz in Baku was to be managed.  They were not numerous, but each had their own important task: Gara Garayev, Tofig Guliyev, Niyazi, and Rashid Behbudov.

 

In the '40s, Baku saw its first orchestra jazz, formed throughout the 1920s and 1930s as a result of synthesizing African and European styles of jazz music. It had reached Azerbaijan, but was played under the cover term of 'popular music', as this was the advent of the Great Century of jazz in Baku and of many difficulties that the musicians faced, such as persecution and repression, for "bowing down to the West".

Big band became a popular music genre of its time, reaching the peak of its fame in the mid-1930s. This music led to a real swing dancing craze. Leaders of famous jazz orchestras such Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Artie Shaw, Chick Webb, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Lunsford, and Charlie Barnet composed or arranged and later recorded a true hit parade of tunes that could be heard not only on the radio but in every dance hall.

TOFİG GULİYEV

In 1934, Tofig Guliyev enrolled in the Asaf Zeynally Music College. Having received musical education in his homeland, he was assisted by the founder of Azerbaijani classical music, the great Uzeyir Hajibeyov, in being included in a group of talented youth to be sent to Moscow.

 

It was there, in Moscow, that Guliyev attracted the attention of the famous pianist and artistic director of the All-Union Jazz Orchestra Alexander Zfasman. He began working as Zfasman's pianist. Very soon, Tofig was recognized as one of the best musicians of the orchestra. Zfasman's big band became a professional school of jazz music for Guliyev. After gaining practice and skills in the band, Tofig returned to Azerbaijan, where, together with the conductor and prominent figure in the world of music Niyazi, he created the very first Baku jazz orchestra. The orchestra he created stood out noticeably for its culture of performance and professionalism. Many musicians of this orchestra later played in various jazz bands of the Soviet Union and were considered the best musicians of the time. Among them were trumpeter Ismayil Kalantarov, first a soloist in Boris Rensky's orchestra and later the director of the first music hall in the Soviet Union, saxophonists Parviz Rustambeyov and Tofig Ahmadov, both students of Tofig Guliyev's school of jazz. Unfortunately, the orchestra was short-lived. It was not long until the Second World War broke out. It was during these years that the musicians' best qualities were revealed, as they demonstrated devotion to their motherland, fearlessness and courage. The entire orchestra was at the front line and became the orchestra of the 402nd Transcaucasian Infantry division. Musicians of Tofig Guliyev's orchestra received special recognition and thanks for boosting the morale of servicemen at this truly difficult time.

 

There were many names that were directly or indirectly related to the development and formation of jazz music in Azerbaijan. The peak of its popularity, which saw the growth of extraordinary interest in jazz, was negatively affected by the destructive years of the Second World War. However, art and spiritual values survived the tragedies, hunger and devastation, and thus began its new, post-war phase.

 

Having reached their heyday in the mid-1930s, many big bands showcased their improviser soloists who brought the audience to a state close to hysteria with their well-organized "band battles".


This form retained its popularity until the late 1940s. A multitude of great wind instrument players, including trombone, saxophone and trumpet players, lived in Baku at the time. Despite the fact that not all of them went on to become outstanding improvisers, all of them were quite strong orchestral musicians.

 

Careful orchestration with large sections of woodwind and brass instruments resulted in abundant jazz harmonies and created the sound that became known as "the sound of a big band". Orchestras led by Rauf Hajiyev and Tofig Ahmadov were the largest big bands in Azerbaijan. These were heald orchestras that became symbols of a whole era.

RAUF HAJIYEV

In 1955-1956, Rauf Hajiyev starts working actively to organize a large jazz orchestra at the Magomayev Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Society. The jazz-pop orchestra of the Vatan Cinema was used as a basis for the new team. The orchestra could pride itself on great singers, and the skill of its musicians won the admiration of many. It included trumpeters Khalig Aliyev, Shuriya Ibrahimov and Aziz Aghayev; trombonists Vladimir Najarov, Ali Najafbeyov; clarinetist Kamal Manafli; saxophonists Arif Jahangirov (alto), Nikolai Andreyev (alto), Rafig Seyidzadeh (baritone, tenor), Aydin Mirzazadeh (alto), Boris Hohlov (tenor), Kamal Gasimov (tenor), Nikolai Syurdyukov (tenor), and Igor Trakhimovich (baritone); contrabass players Sabir Aliyev and Ilyas Huseynov; drummers Leonid Lubensky, Huseyn Aliyev and Anatoly Goncharov; pianists Vladimir Popkov and Chingiz Sadykhov. Anatoly Kalvarsky was the musical director of the orchestra. The Azerbaijan State Popular (Jazz) Music Orchestra was a participant of the Sixth World Festival in Moscow (1957), of the concerts by Azerbaijani masters of arts at the Kremlin Palace of Congresses (1963) and of the concerts dedicated to the 150th anniversary of Azerbaijan's joining Russia (1964).

 

In 1964, the Azerbaijan State Popular Music Orchestra, led by Rauf Hajiyev, was awarded the diploma of the Presidium of the Supreme Council of Azerbaijan. In 1965, Rauf Hajiyev was appointed to the highest position in the music industry, that of the Minister of Culture of Azerbaijan. His public activity addressed the problems and needs of the artists. While in office, he made great efforts to raise the level of the country's cultural life and personally assisted musicians and workers of culture from across the country. Brilliant master of orchestral writing, Rauf Hajiyev created a large number of virtuoso compositions.

TOFIG AHMADOV

Azerbaijani saxophonist Tofig Ahmadov, while playing at a club orchestra in Moscow, attracted the audience with his mastery of the alto saxophone. Ahmadov's talent was noticed by one of the club's visitors, famous pianist and head of the All-Soviet Jazz Orchestra Alexander Zfasman.

 

Zfasman invited the young musician to his orchestra, which at the time was widely known, and this in turn made the offer even more appealing. Having worked with Zfasman for a while, Tofig was offered a different opportunity. Famous trumpeter and head of a jazz orchestra Eddie Rosner, convinced of Ahmadov's talent, invited him to work as a concertmaster. Ahmadov played the clarinet wonderfully, and delivered music on the alto saxophone in a very precise, memorable and lively manner. Zfasman and Rosner undoubtedly helped his talent develop further. In 1955, Tofig Ahmadov comes to Baku and founds a quartet, later a sextet and finally a septet. due to Tofig's good organisational skills, he is entrusted the task of casting for and establishing the Popular Music Radio and Television Orchestra. He manages to recruit the most talented instrumentalists to this group, including Ramiz Shirinov (alto saxophone), Daniil Kagner (tenor saxophone), Mammad Mammadov (alto), Tofig Aslanov (alto), Kamal Gasimov (tenor), Yasaf Taghiyev (tenor), Mikhail Avadyayev (trumpet), Aziz Aghayev (trumpet), Tahir Isayev (trombone), David Koifman (bass guitar), Vagif Mustafazadeh (piano), Faig Sujaddinov (piano), Albert Avadyayev (piano), the vocal quartet Qaya and many others. The orchestra has worked with the uneclipsed Muslim Magomayev, as well as with Mirza Babayev, Ogtay Aghayev and Natavan Sheyhova. Even though, as it was mentioned above, jazz music was not very well received by the state at the time and was considered 'bourgeois', it was probably for this reason that Tofig Ahmadov felt the need to use folk tunes in creating jazz works. He creates remixes of folk songs, turning them into fantasies for the orchestra, and at the same time wrote his own original instrumental works and performed there solo parts himself. The history of the Popular Music Radio and Television Orchestra is closely related to the development of Azerbaijani jazz music. Its participation in the Second Youths and Students Festival in Helsinki in 1962 was the first international performance by an Azerbaijani music collective.

 

In 1967, during a concert in Cuba, Togif Ahmadov performed on the saxophone a piece from the latin American composition "Conformidad" which was very well received by the audience. 1968 brought new success, as the Azerbaijan Popular Music Orchestra was awarded a gold medal and a certificate of the International Youth and Students Festival in Sofia, Bulgaria.

 

Oil was the cause not only of the emergence of foreign capital, but also that of foreign culture. American author Francis Scott Fitzgerald referred to the 30s as the 'century of Jazz'. Ragtime, Charleston and jazz sounds swept almost the entire world. The waves of new music reached the shores of the grizzled Caspian Sea as well. And so appeared jazz in Baku! In the newspapers of the time, one can find short articles about a very interesting type of music with the unusual name 'jazz' played in the restaurants of Baku. The same articles mentioned the oil magnate Nobel brothers, Robert and Ludwig, among others, visiting these restaurants.

 

But a musical hobby so unusual for the Orient soon began to face hard times. With the advent of the Soviet rule, "enemy" art alien to the Soviet people fell into neglect. But not for long..." 

 

In the mid-1940s, a new style developed in New York, heralding the era of modern jazz. Bebop is characterized by fast tempo and complex improvisations based on the change in harmony rather than in the melody. Superfast performance tempo was introduced by Parker and Gillespie, in order to prevent unprofessional musicians from 'experimenting' with their new improvisations. Among other things, outrageous demeanor and appearance became the hallmark of all bebop players: for instance, Dizzy Gillespie's bent trumpet, his and Charlie Parker's behavior on stage. Having emerged as a reaction to the ubiquity of swing, bebop continued to develop principles of wing through the use of expressive means, but at the same time it revealed a number of opposing tendencies. It was bebop that became the basis of the music of one young saxophonist from Baku, whose tragic fate still shocks with the cruelty against and mistreatment of jazz musicians of the time.

 

The so-called "bourgeois" world order and everything that came out of it, including music, were considered unacceptable to the Soviet people and came in view of the authorities. Playing jazz music was becoming more and more complicated and dangerous each year, was believed to result from the propaganda of "Western art" and equated to treason. Many representatives of the arts, sciences and other occupations were persecuted and cruelly dealt with.

 

We have already mentioned Eddie Rosner's jazz orchestra. Eddie Rosner was a songwriter, musician and bandleader, who contributed to the development of Soviet jazz. Having begun his career in Germany, Poland and other European countries, Rosner moved to the USSR and became one of the pioneers of swing in the USSR, as well as pioneer of Belarusian jazz.

 

Rosner's orchestra featured Tofig Ahmadov, Tofig Guliyev, and later the latter's student, young saxophonist Parviz Rustambeyov. The instrument he played was not particularly well-received by the bureaucratic apparatus. With the advent of jazz music, saxophone appeared in Azerbaijan as well, and it was this instrument that embodied and symbolized jazz.

PARVIZ RUSTAMBEYOV

He became a legend, and his dramatic fate formed the basis for the screenplay of an Azerbaijani film about jazz. Fine musician, whose tragic destiny interrupted in Mirjafar Baghirov's dungeons, he came from the once wealthy Rustambeyov family of Baku. He was involved in music since childhood, when began learning to play the clarinet at the House of Pioneers. In 1940, he drew the attention of Tofig guliyev, who invited Parviz in his orchestra.

 

In 1944, during Eddie Rosner's tour in Baku, the talented saxophonist, was admired by Rosner and received an invitation to the Moscow orchestra as the star saxophonist and clarinet player. This fact made big news in the Baku, as Eddie Rosner, a world-renowned musician, was known to choose only the best performers for his orchestra. For a 22-year-old saxophonist, this was a flattering offer, which he certainly accepted. He enjoyed great success at concerts given throughout the Soviet Union. Parviz even became known as the 'Soviet Benny Goodman'.

 

Famous composer, author of ballets and musicals critic Yury Saulsky thus spoke of Rustambeyov:

"Piro Rustambeyov managed to amaze everyone who listened to him. He was a top-class musician and an improviser of a purely natural essence. Able to produce complex musical phrases, he found the right harmony almost intuitively. Once he was a guest musician in an ensemble which I worked in, and played a few pieces with us. His performance brought in so much freshness and innovation! He amazed us all with a special feeling of improvisation. His solos were always built on the basis of a clear development, and everything had a clear form. His music was inhabited by thought. Playing alongside Rustambeyov was a delightful experience... "

 

Two years later, Rustambeyov moved back to Baku already a famous musician and created his own band, first at the krasny Vostok Cinema (now Azerbaijan Cinema) and then at the Nizami Cinema. In January 1949, he was unexpectedly dismissed from work under the pretext "for bowing down to the West". Parviz Rustambeyov got in sight of the security services, which intended to "find and expose" at any cost at least one person from the world of music who admired the "corrupting Western art".

 

On 20 May 1949 Parviz Rustambeyov was arrested following the authorization of the acting Military Prosecutor of Azerbaijan SSR Ministry of Internal Affairs guard. According to the decision, Rustambeyov was "an anti-Soviet and pro-American element."

The innocent 27-year-old jazz musician Parviz Rustambeyov, guilty of neither grave offence, nor light, was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Thus functioned the repressive machinery of a totalitarian regime. On 24 december 1949, Parviz Rustambeyov was no longer alive. A few hours before the meeting of a "special council", at 3:50 in the morning the inmate no. 877 of the KGB inner prison Parviz Rustambeyov had passed away under strange circumstances...

 

It was only on 6 January 1958 that the decision of the special council was ordered of the KGB against Rustambeyov was to be "revoked and the case be closed for lack of evidence."

 

The life of the talented young jazz musician Parviz Rustambeyov was tragically cut short in its prime. We do not know the location of Parviz's grave so as to visit it, lay a bouquet of flowers and pray by it for the rejoice of his soul, according to the custom of our ancestors.

 

I believe it is impossible to stop and change a natural process, as it is impossible to forbid loving what one has already fallen in love with and let into their heart and endeared. Not any government or power is able to ban musicians from playing music, improvising, to express themselves and their inner world, and disclosing their thoughts, fantasies and dreams.

 

Beginning in the late '40s, in the postwar-era Baku, jazz could be heard mainly in cinemas, before film sessions. It was sort of a PR move by the theatre administration at the time: an invitation to dance to the sounds of jazz was a nice prelude to seeing a film. Thus came along haunters of cinemas who would come there not so much for the film, but to enjoy jazz. It was energetic bebop, with a truly American accent, without a glimpse of personal modification, but exactly as it was played across the ocean...

 

Back in the 50s, it was hard for them to get to the venue where they played, because the doorsteps were crowded. The popularity was unimaginable! This was precisely the time when at night people managed to pick up Western radio stations, such  as Voice of America, to listen to music, record it using the first Soviet tape recorder Dnepr. They listened to their recordings in the morning and decided what exactly they wanted to play.

 

Then someone came up with a new method: leaving the tape in the recording mode for the night until the recorder stops. In the morning, they rewound the tape and listened to what was recorded. If they liked it, they sat down and immediately created their own arrangements. Thus people played the very latest jazz.

 

Names. Destiny. Time. Bright and unforgettable scenes from life. Music. Tragic fates. And I am reminded of another musician, once very close to me, whose life was associated with the life of cinema jazz in the 1960s Baku. I remembered my old friend, a mentor, a wonderful saxophonist.

QAYA

The establishment of the Qaya quartet goes back to 1961. Their shared love for singing and vocal jazz brought together four young musicians who studied in different programs at the Asaf Zeynally College of Music. Teymur Mirzayev, who later became the leader of the group, and Arif Hajiyev both studied to be choral conductors. Lev Yelisavetsky was an aspiring trumpet player, and Rauf Babayev a percussionist.

 

Beginning in 1956, they began performing jazz songs in English and were known simply as the Baku Quartet. This was the first vocal jazz quartet not only in Azerbaijan, but also in all of the Soviet Union. The significance of the quartet is in the fact that it was among the first ones who laid vocal jazz tradition in our country. Qaya became the first Azerbaijani quartet to successfully perform not only Western jazz, but also Azeri folk songs in jazz interpretation, giving many folk tunes a new life. The ensemble was noted and appreciated by the audience, and for the excellent performance, masterful voice and purity of intonation, it was recognized as the best vocal quartet of the Soviet Union. Songs performed by Qaya retained their popularity for many years.

 

High-level vocalists played each their own part: Teymur Mirzayev as the bass, Rauf Babayev as the first tenor, Arif Hajiyev as the second tenor and lev Yelisavetsky as the baritone. during the years of work, they cooperated with such recognized jazz bands as orchestras of Leonid Utesov and Oleg Lundstrem and the big band led by Vadim Lyudvikovsky. Millions of copies of their records were released by the state record company Melody, and people in more than forty countries around the world listened to songs performed by them, including in the Soviet Union, Europe, America, West and Central Africa.

 

Syntheses with different styles became a common practice in many countries. The very notion of a synthesis was of great interest. Fusing and finding new forms was not something everyone could tackle. It was this direction that was sought as a goal by a young pianist from Baku, who was perfectly familiar with the two genres most important for him: traditional jazz and mugham.

TOFIG SHABANOV

"He possessed extraordinary improvisational abilities. He could easily and efficiently improvise in line with blues harmonies on the spot." He perfectly mastered the alto saxophone, soprano and tenor saxophone. Tofig Shabanov had the chance to play in many orchestras alongside Rashid Behbudov and Rafig Babayev. He was able to earn the love and respect of the musicians who worked with him; he knew how to be friends and was always there in times of trouble. For the duration of his creative career, Shabanov was associated with the Qaya orchestra.

 

From 1978, he played the lesser musical team of Qaya until he began to work under the direction of Rafig Babayev. Later, in 1988, Shabanov switched to the Qaya State Jazz Symphony Orchestra, whose musical director he became in 1991. Then, at a politically difficult time which coincided with the decaying period of Qaya, he managed to find the strength and stamina to mobilize the remaining members of the orchestra.

 

And of course, jazz orchestras still set the main tone. Rafig Seyidzadeh became one the first saxophone soloists of Rauf Hajiyev's renowned orchestra. Shabanov played in Qaya, and many musicians, including myself, having worked in orchestras, later created their own bands.

  

In the late 1950s and early 1960s jazz in Baku continued on his way. The breath-taking wave of jazz embraces listeners through the performances of orchestras and then-fashionable ensembles. Jazz arrangements began featuring works of Azerbaijani 

composers and folk tunes. The orchestras of Rauf Hajiyev and Tofig Ahmadov and the vocal quartet Qaya created a boom of jazz music, which was getting woven into and slowly merging with Azeri folk melodies, unconsciously creating a new, unique, exclusively local Azerbaijani jazz.

 

In the '70s and '80s groups such as the legendary jazz quartet from Azerbaijan named Qaya, the Georgian vocal-instrumental ensembles named Orera and Jazz Chorale, as well as the Melody ensemble came to prominence in the Soviet Union.

VAGIF MUSTAFAZADEH

Vagif Mustafazadeh is one of the founders of the jazz-mugham style, a man who was always ahead of time, laws and boundaries. Not only was he a consummate pianist, but also a brilliant composer who authored a great number of jazz compositions. 

 

"Vagif Mustafazadeh is a high-class pianist, and it is hard to find an equal in the world of jazz. He is the most lyrical pianist I have ever heard ", Willis Conover said once about quote Mustafazadeh.

 

However, Vagif was unable to come out on the world jazz stage to showcase his skills, as strict laws of the time placed a lot of obstacles and limitations on Soviet musicians. It was not until 1979, after he sent his composition "Waiting for Aziza" to an international jazz music competition in Monaco, that he was given a chance to compete with musicians around the world. He must have experienced the strongest feelings of joy and excitement in his life when he learned that the song won first place and he was recognized the best performer among musicians from all over the world. He was presented with a white grand piano as a symbol of pure music, carrying the message of peace and love for life.

 

But I have not yet said that in the early '80s Baku turned into one of the jazz center of the Soviet Union. Jazz music could be heard everywhere, concerts were often held, featuring famous musicians of the Soviet Union, foreign artists and popular bands of Azerbaijan. Jazz festivals were held on a regular basis. Musicians coming from abroad were certain that being taken well in Baku ensured success in all the cities of the USSR. Large flow of information, music and different sub-genres would blow the minds of jazz lovers who dove in the philosophy of improvisation. The penetration of experimentalism and avant-garde into jazz marked the advent of the direction new 'Creative' direction. The start of this process partially coincided with the emergence of free jazz. Elements of avant-garde jazz, understood as changes and innovations to music, have always been "experimental". In fact, avant-garde music has become synonymous with open forms. Jazz is a philosophy and meditation.

 

However, in Baku, a new and already local sub-genre of jazz organically and subtly merged into one, wisely and philosophically revealing to us the intricacies of jazz improvisation in mugham stops. Just like jazz, mugham is multifaceted, inexhaustible, based on improvisation and possessing different forms. The formation of the style of jazz-mugham, it’s improvement and approval in the world of jazz were facilitated by the fact that it was brought in by the extraordinary jazz pianist Vagif Mustafazadeh with his unique manner of performance. At the same time, jazz-mugham improved in other ways over which pianist and composer Rafig Babayev worked on quite successfully. 

 

The most difficult times came in the '90s. The time was ruled by crisis and unemployment. Curfew in Baku as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent war with Armenia. Those were the years when no one preoccupied themselves with music, and those who wanted to play left for other countries. Jazz in Baku was on the verge of extinction. Musicians were driven into depression.  

RAFIG BABAYEV 

Rafig Babayev, a distinct-style musician, composer and high-class pianist, became a victim of the '90s insurgency. Rafig Babayev's tragic death shocked not only the people of Azerbaijan, but the entire world community. Rafig Babayev was a great organizer and leader, knowing not only the intricacies of music industry, but also a variety of technical fields, film shooting, setting, etc.

 

Gara Garayev once said: "Rafig Babayev is someone who knows how to do absolutely everything!"

 

A whole range of talented musicians have worked for Rafig Babayev's band. Then and indeed even now those are the best musicians of Baku. I can confidently say that there are individuals out there who possess magic and charisma. There are leaders such as Rafig who became teachers for the young, and now these people, who are no longer young, remember with admiration the years that they were lucky to spend, work and make music alongside each other. The '80s in Baku were associated with Rafig Babayev's name and music, which today can be easily guessed from the first chords, since this music is mixed with very fine oriental "spice".

 

I have already said that by the late '80s and early 90s there was a break-up of the Soviet empire, which has caused havoc in the republics of the former Soviet Union. This, of course, influenced the culture and naturally slowed down the development of jazz music in Azerbaijan. Due to the martial law many music-related venues were closed and curfew was set. Many musicians chose to leave their hometown and go to countries such as Turkey, Canada, Israel, the United States, etc.

 

Today we are witnessing a growing number of mixing cultures worldwide, which continually brings us to what in essence is becoming "world music". Today jazz cannot help but be influenced by the sounds penetrating into it from almost any corner of the globe. European experimentalism with classical overtones continues to influence the music of young pioneers. As the world develops, jazz in Baku has reached the highest status to date. This form of music wins the admiration of the audience with its depth and unexpected solutions, being a completely new course. This direction always interested me the most as saxophone player and composer, and it is a space where I feel free to completely open up.

 

Africans who dreamt of liberty and independence. History of jazz in Azerbaijan, as one can see, is also connected with the musicians' desire for independence. The fate of the repressed Parviz Rustambeyov and the unrecognized by the Soviet regime Vagif Mustafazadeh and many other illustrations are bright parallels of jazz music and a desire to be free. Perhaps this is why, while listening to Azerbaijani jazz, we close our eyes as an African worker would on plantations, and see vast expanses of green, alternating with blue sea views ...

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