Baku, a metropolis of numerous experiences, boasts a novel mix of components: It’s a metropolis of gusty winds and serene seashores, a hub of cozy teahouses, and a muse for numerous artists and poets. However, maybe most notably, Baku has a deep-rooted and enduring love affair with jazz music that spanned over six a long time.
In the course of the Soviet period, Baku was one of many three famend jazz cities, alongside St. Petersburg and Riga. The yr 1922 marked a major milestone when town hosted its inaugural jazz live performance. Niyazi and Tofig Guliyev, achieved composers, later spearheaded the formation of the primary Azerbaijani jazz band within the late Nineteen Thirties.
Nevertheless, the Chilly Warfare ushered in a harsh crackdown on jazz, ultimately extending to the prohibition of saxophones and different devices synonymous with the style. Tragically, this period claimed the lifetime of Parviz Rustambekov, a distinguished Azerbaijani saxophonist who was imprisoned beneath suspicion of ties to the USA. He met an premature demise in 1949, on the tender age of 27, shrouded in suspicious circumstances.
Regardless of these obstacles, some American jazz data managed to trickle into Baku, due to resourceful Soviet bootleggers who pressed these data onto discarded X-rays. Adorned with eerie pictures of bones and skulls, these illicit data earned the moniker “ribs” or “roentgenizdat.”
Within the midst of those struggles, Azerbaijani jazz fanatics discovered solace in fleeting snippets of American jazz icons like Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, as they tuned into static-laden radio broadcasts that Soviet authorities desperately tried to impede. For a lot of, jazz turned a logo of freedom and a catalyst for political and social change.
The thaw beneath Khrushchev’s management breathed new life into Baku’s jazz scene. Jazz golf equipment flourished, and a dissident neighborhood coalesced across the music. It was throughout this era that the pioneering pianist Vagif Mustafazadeh, in collaboration with Rafiq Babayev, ingeniously fused jazz with mugham, conventional Azerbaijani people music. The ensuing syncopation married mellifluous melodies and groovy rhythms, creating a fascinating fusion of keyboard and percussion devices. Many years later, Mustafazadeh’s daughter, Aziza, emerged as a distinguished artist, crafting a particular mix of classical jazz, scat singing and people music.
The Azerbaijani vocal quartet Qaya. (Wikipedia Photograph)
The Nineteen Seventies witnessed the rise of the Azerbaijani vocal quartet Qaya, which started decoding American songs alongside Azerbaijani people classics, laying the inspiration for Azerbaijani jazz vocals. Their cheerful, polyphonic sound, coupled with whimsical lyrics, resonated with audiences in Baku, Moscow and past. Hits like “Lachin,” “When You Converse” and “The Women of Baku” solidified their standing as one among Azerbaijan’s most celebrated musical acts.
Berlin-based guitarist Ayaz Hajiyev, who witnessed Qaya’s efficiency in Baku in 1968, reminisces, “Qaya transcended being simply one other music band – they ceaselessly reworked the musical panorama. Many subsequent bands have tried to seize the essence of Qaya filtered by jazz and pop, however they continue to be as mere echoes of a novel authentic.”
Following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijani jazz confronted an array of challenges, notably through the First Nagorno-Karabakh Warfare. Whereas some jazz musicians light into obscurity, others, like saxophonist Rain Sultanov, launched into world excursions, introducing Azerbaijani jazz to new audiences. In 2005, Sultanov spearheaded the Baku Worldwide Jazz Competition, a worldwide celebration of town’s enduring jazz heritage, attracting luminaries similar to Herbie Hancock, Al Jarreau and Diana Krall in recent times.
Right now, a recent technology of artists, together with Isfar Sarabski, Shahin Novrasli and Etibar Asadli, are revitalizing Azerbaijani jazz by infusing it with world influences and pushing the boundaries of creativity. Whether or not pushed by nostalgia, an aesthetic journey, or just the sheer pleasure of savoring the crackle of vinyl data, the revival of Azerbaijani jazz underscores the timeless human want to attach with music in evocative and revolutionary methods.