Winter 2004 (12.4)
Six CDs of Vagif Mustafazade's Mugham Jazz
On November 19, 2004, Unocal Khazar Ltd and Azerbaijan International
Magazine launched Vagif Mustafazade's Mugham Jazz Anthology of
6 CDs. The event took place at the ISR Plaza in downtown Baku
with more than 200 guests in attendance.
The driving force behind the effort to preserve Vagif Mustafazade's
jazz legacy came from Mike Barnes, President of UNOCAL Khazar
Ltd., which sponsored the project. Barnes has worked in Baku
since 1996 and is respected within the Azerbaijan community for
his generous support to its cultural legacy.
Left: Left to right: Bakhtiyar Akhundov (UNOCAL, Office
and Government Affairs Manager), Pirouz Khanlou (Publisher of
Azerbaijan International and Producer of CD Project), Gulnar
Aydamirova (AI Editorial Staff interpreting into Azeri) and Mike
Barnes (President of UNOCAL Khazar) who conceived and sponsored
Now that Azerbaijan has gained
its independence from the Soviet Union (1991), Mustafazade's
brilliant jazz renditions finally have a chance to become known
beyond his native land and the former Soviet Union. Vagif himself
desperately wanted to perform outside of the Soviet Union but
was not permitted to tour outside the country despite numerous
Jazz pianist and composer Vagif Mustafazade (1940 - 1979) was
the creator of the jazz mugham movement in Azerbaijan in the
1960s. By merging two musical genres - Western jazz and Eastern
mugham, a type of traditional improvisational modal music - he
created "mugham jazz", a new sound that was uniquely
Azerbaijani. Familiar Eastern melodies found new expression in
Mustafazade's free-spirited piano stylistics.
At the end of World War II when Vagif was growing up, jazz had
been banned in the Soviet Union. Stalin had labeled it the "music
of the capitalists". But jazz fans and musicians, like Vagif,
used to listen secretly on short wave radios.
Left: Azerbaijan International staff members presented
guests with the 6-CD set of Vagif Mustafazade's Mugham Jazz Anthology
at the reception on November 19, 2004. Left to right: Aynura
Huseinova, Aytan Aliyeva and Ulviyya Mammadova with guest, pop
singer Javan Zeynalli, one of the founding members of Gaya Music
Group in the 1960s and 1970s.
Despite the Soviet system's antipathy toward jazz, Mustafazade
succeeded in achieving international recognition even during
his lifetime. In 1978, he won First Prize at the Eighth International
Jazz Festival in Monaco for his composition "Waiting for
Aziza". In 1979, he was named People's Artist of Azerbaijan.
That same year, he suddenly collapsed and died while on tour
in Uzbekistan. He was only 39 years old. His legacy as the pioneer
of jazz mugham preceded his own time and still strongly impacts
how jazz is performed in Azerbaijan today.
The 6 CD set features 80 works - many of them originally produced
on vinyl LPs which were released during Vagif's lifetime; others
are from rare, unreleased selections from the 1960s and 1970s
recorded at Baku's Radio and Television Studios or preserved
at Azerbaijan's National Voice Recording Archives.
Pirouz Khanlou, Publisher of Azerbaijan International, produced
the anthology. Project Director was Javanshir Guliyev, who also
was responsible for choosing the works and carrying out the digital
restoration and Yagub Madatov (Director of Azerbaijan's Voice
Recording Archives), Eldar Mansurov, Rafael Bunyadov and Javan
Zeynalli provided the original music.
Tarlan Gorchu and Ilham T. Aliyev of Tutu Publishing created
the CD pack design, including the book. Betty Blair, Editor of
Azerbaijan International, with the assistance of Jala Garibova,
wrote the 96-page book (English and Azeri), which comes with
the set. Bakhtiyar Akhundov and Marina Besantina (UNOCAL staff)
were Project Consultants.
Afag Aliyeva of the Vagif Mustafazade Humanitarian Fund provided
photos. Alla Bayramova, Director of the State Museum of Azerbaijani
Musical Culture, also assisted with photos.
This is the third major CD anthology that Azerbaijan International
Magazine has produced: (1) Classical Music of Azerbaijan: 6 CDs,
15 composers and 74 works with Amoco, 1997; (2) Uzeyir Hajibeyov's
Operas and Music Comedies: 7 CDs, 4 major works with Statoil,
2001; and (3) Vagif Mustafazade Jazz, 6 CDs, 80 works with UNOCAL,
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