Vagif Mustafazade – world-renowned Azerbaijani Jazz pianist and composer, acclaimed for fusing jazz and traditional Azerbaijani mugham

Baku, March 17, AZERTAC

Vagif Mustafazade - the founder of the Azerbaijani jazz mugham movement, a talented pianist and composer, was born in 1940 in Baku, the capital of the land of fires – Azerbaijan.

Mustafazade, who had made a valuable contribution to Azerbaijani music, was a brilliant Jazz pianist, acclaimed for fusing jazz and the traditional Azerbaijani folk music known as mugham.

He integrated two different ways of musical thinking by conjoining mugham with rich jazz harmony, fusing familiar motifs with swing, using both jazz and mugham types of melodic elaboration.

He learned the classical jazz repertoire from recordings by the help of the characteristics of the oral transmission of mugham.

According to many world famous jazz musicians, Mustafazade is one of the pioneers and “the architect of jazz in Azerbaijan”.

The artist, who was passionate about his art, gave an insatiable taste of music to people who were fascinated by the magic of fingers on the piano.

His innovations were a real revolution in world music.

The film "Jazz legend - Vagif Mustafazade" was dedicated to the artist who led the “Caucasus” jazz trio, “Leyli”, “Sevil” women's vocal, Mugham and Orero instrumental ensembles.

The world-famous jazz performer's charming works such as "The thoughts", "Our Baku nights", "Waiting for Aziza", "Hey Pari", "I see in my heart", "Mercy, hunter" and others have found their way to hearts.

From the 1960s, prohibitions put on jazz music in the USSR, including Azerbaijan were gradually lifted and thus the late 1960s and 70s became a time when Baku was a real centre of locally inspired jazz.

By this time, Mustafazade was making his way to his audience and his popularity grew. His name was often mentioned among other jazz musicians and he participated in festivals held in his native land, as well as in and outside the Soviet countries. Since making a strong impression in his early years at college, his music progressed and popularity grew; he appeared in many festivals.

He collaborated with theatres and wrote music for documentary films.

Vagif Mustafazade’s work “Expecting Aziza” was performed for the first time at the 7th international Competition for Composers of Jazz Compositions in Monaco in 1979.

Sharing his impressions about the phenomenon of Vagif Mustafazade, famous American musician and critic V. Conover, wrote: “Mustafazade is a first rate pianist, to whom it is difficult to find an equal in lyrical jazz. He is the most lyrical pianist that I have ever heard.”

Swedish jazz pianist B. Johansson described Vagif’s compositions saying “His music is surprisingly modern but at the same time it conveys the secrets of ancient Caucasian melodies, extolled poets not of a single generation. This is the tale which Scheherazade told on the 1001 nights!”

Vagif Mustafazade was only 39 years old when he died on stage while performing in Tashkent (Uzbekistan) in December 1979.

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