A NEW INITIATIVE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF JAZZ IN AZERBAIJAN

The first International Baku Jazz Festival, planned for the first days of April, will breathe new life into the national jazz scene.

The Baku Jazz Centre will present its next major project to jazz lovers in April. The First International Baku Jazz Festival will be held from 5 - 12 April. The Centre, in only its second year of activity, has already brought a variety of projects to its audience: the “Jazz in Azerbaijan Anthology” produced by the well-known saxophonist and Director of the Centre, Rain Sultanov, records the establishment and development of the genre here. Recently, the efforts of the Centre brought to fruition the jazz website "jazz.az" which combines extensive information about jazz in Azerbaijan with links to more than ten other sites.
Rain Sultanov hopes that the realisation of such projects will revive the best traditions of jazz.

“We have long dreamed of holding this first International Baku Jazz Festival
We have been living with nostalgia for the festivals of our youth - in the 1980s. I hope that the upcoming week of jazz will recapture the mood of those days; but the measure of its success will be the quality of performance.”
After a break of 15 years, three festivals were held by the American Voices organisation, but they did not come up to expectations. “The Caspian Jazz and Blues Festival - 2002” created some resonance but the subsequent events saw the organisers lose trust. Invitations to lower rank musicians and, finally, the focus on breakdance rather than jazz caused dissatisfaction among local musicians and aficiandos:

"American Voices" ‘Caspian Jazz & Blues Festival’ lost trust
Even the US Embassy, along with other sponsors of American Voices, was not willing to support them again". That is why Rain Sultanov and other devotees decided to organise a new festival; one of the supporters of this project is General Director of Azeurotel, Nuri Ahmedov. Supporters in the organisation of the Festival, the Friends of Azerbaijan Culture Fund, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Tourism, the Rector of Baku Music Academy Farhad Badalbeyli and others. Guests and venues for the week of jazz are already organised: it is expected that within the festival, at last, Aziza Mustafazadeh will come to Baku.
Rain Sultanov

Rain Sultanov commented on the invitation to the Festival of well-known musicians: "Australian musician Joe Zawinul, called ‘The Grandfather of Jazz’ will participate with his group ‘The Zawinul Syndicate’. The Festival was arranged to fit in with his schedule, and a contract has been signed. In addition, Udai Mazumdar (India), the Christophe Busse Trio (Germany), Timuchin Sahin (Turkey), Vagif Sadikhov, the Yakov Okun Trio (Russia), Greg Osby, Allison Miller (USA), Frazer Fifield (Scotland) among others. Finally, the chance to see these musicians in Baku will bring in sponsors to support them.
The First International Baku Jazz Festival will include all the following local jazz groups: Jamil Amirov’s ‘Savab’, Salman Gambarov’s ‘Bakustik Jazz’, the ‘Beri Bakh’ group , Rain Sultanov, Emil Ibrahim, Shahin Novrasli, Javan Zeynalli, Rauf Sultanov’s group, Emil Mammadov, the ‘Orient Express’ group and others. In this respect, the organising committee has left no one out. Also within the framework of the Festival a competition for young jazz musicians has been announced. Applications are already being accepted at the Jazz Centre. The best in the competition will receive tuition from professional musicians, leading to the formation of new groups in the future. There will be open-air concerts by groups of young musicians within the Festival; these concerts are planned to take place in Fountain Square during daytime with room for larger audiences. By the way, the Festival’s opening ceremony will be in Baku’s Jazz Centre, but the closing concert will be in the Heydar Aliyev Palace. During this jazz week "Fountain Square", Baku Jazz Centre & the Opera studio will be the venues for concerts. There will be concerts every day in the Jazz Centre and will end with jam sessions.
Rain Sultanov was hard-pressed to confirm that the Festival would become an annual event. "This will be decided when we see how this one goes." But he indicated that next year Baku may host more than one festival: "Current developments within Azerbaijani jazz show this is possible. Jazz lovers often remember the 1960s and 70s, but I can say that jazz in today’s Azerbaijan is at an even higher level".

by Vafa Shahveledgizi