RAFIG BABAYEV - 70

That day still lives in my memory. Like the end of a film I wanted to watch over and over again; as if the film breaks and an "invisible projectionist" repairs it and plays it again….

That day I was seeing my father off to work. In the morning sitting with us all in the kitchen, drinking tea, sharing his problems with us; he often confided in us this way… It was a sunny March morning. My children were happily frolicking around him, he was stroking their silky, soft hair. My father was talking about people - family and close friends, those with whom he talked and those with whom he worked. His words come back to me haphazardly, but I remember very well his emotional attention to each of them. This was my dad's way with people. Those close to him were very important for him, this was his world; he loved those people, he cared for them and accepted each as part of his own world. His sensitivity towards the people around him made such an impression that I feel it even now.

Rafig Babayev

I remember him coming through the entrance to the yard. Putting on his grey coat, approaching the steps, at the bottom turning back and waving to me, "See you!" His smile….Stop. Here my film ends.

19 March 1994
15.00. Suddenly a strong wind gets up, the sky turns grey/black and there is unexpected news. At the '20th January' station of the metro a train had been blown up. My father's workplace was near the station. But I couldn't imagine a connection this with the news. Such a thing was inconceivable. 16.30. First sign of alarm - a call from the film studio. It was Brilliant: - We arranged a recording for 4pm but Rafiq Farzievich hasn't come yet….
18.15. Another anxious call. This time from the Song Theatre: - Where is Rafiq? We can't begin the competition without him. Everyone is waiting for him!

Rafig Babayev

I had a lump in my throat: "There is something wrong", I thought. My mother said, "Perhaps he was on THAT TRAIN". "What are you saying!" I wanted to calm both of us, "It's not possible…."
19.00. More and more 'phone calls. Rafiq wasn't there. He hasn't come yet. Where is Rafiq? Everyone that my dad was due to meet was calling, and we were calling anyone and everyone. We were breathless, a silence was falling around us, my heart was beating like a metronome.
20.00. "Rafiq is in hospital." As soon as mum hears this on the line, she cries out: "I knew it!!!" I felt numb, but suddenly gathered all my faith:
- Nothing could happen to him! Because that is MY FATHER! He has been in difficult positions many times, be calm! So what, perhaps a few scratches, or something broken, that's all!
I forced a smile to my dry lips. Everything will be ok. Anything else is impossible.

Rafig Babayev

21.00. People are gathering at our place. The door stays unlocked for the stream of visitors. I move as in a dream, mechanically serving tea. I search the faces of all who arrive: "There was nothing dangerous was there?" They seemed to avoid my eyes: "He's in hospital" I can't understand their reactions. Someone wants 'Volokardin' (heart medicine). Opening the medicine box, I noticed my hands shaking, no, it's impossible…

Rafig Babayev

21.15. A crowd of people appeared in the doorway. When I saw them my ears blocked, everyone was crying, shouting, moaning:
- Tell me the truth, what's happened?!!!
HE'S GONE…. It's impossible! When I saw Jamil in tears, I couldn't contain myself: "Jamo, it's not true, is it?!" Jamil, tears dripping from his beard, doesn't answer. "I don't believe it!!! I want to see him!!!
HE ISN'T COMING BACK….

Rafig Babayev

World of Silence
Everyone, at some time, experiences emptiness. It's impossible to fill it. You may temporarily push it away or return to the past, but whenever you come back so does the ache. You begin to understand the ache of a desolate heart. You feel disembodied. But why? Where is he who was "Mine"? My father has gone, but I am here?

Rafig Babayev

The next stage of my life begins with these questions but, after many years, I came to the conclusion that the search will never finish. When you begin to comprehend your 'self' as a personality in time and place, you understand that the time and place are already in the past but the world has moved on; at the same time your 'self' has disappeared. Life continues, there are new questions to be answered and they make life worth living.

Rafig Babayev

I came to realise that the existential connection to my father had been broken. I reached a place where I understood myself and could see the world in a different light. It is true that I will never again see my living father - I will never hear his soft voice, or his sincere laugh, will never see his gentle smile and will never place my hands in his dry palms, but I will be able to think of his presence in people's memories, his letters and music, him as he was; in this way I can also feel alive myself.
Rafig Babayev

But who is Rafiq Babayev? My father loved my sister and myself very much and really spoiled us. Thanks to his love, we saw the world as a loving, beautiful place, easy to live in. Anyone in this world will find it hard to understand Rafiq Babayev, who had a simple and difficult life. Looking through the keyhole of a poor, simple, tasteless and colourless world, I had to travel a long way to understand his gifts of beauty and real love; a journey which has taken from his death until now. An understanding of this bright world, which begins from an inner silence, has to start somewhere; when you stop struggling to establish your own world, silence comes to the fore. Rafig Babayev's world of struggle and silence slowly became my world. It has been like this from the time I began to collect his music, documents, letters and interviews.

Rafig Babayev

Interview with Composer Javanshir Quliyev
Rafiq Babayev was possibly the only person among active jazz musicians who considered the following within his music practice. He did not restrict his thinking to his own profession; he was concerned for his country, about his own situation within the country, the future of the music and many other things. Rafiq Babayev predicted trends and tried to plan his life accordingly; in my view this made him the only jazz musician. He also laid down a basic foundation of ideas for the development of jazz and was the initiator of these ideas. His choice of the people he played with was also no matter of chance. He was always looking for ways to develop jazz in our country and was, in this way, a thinker, both literally and in the way he played.

Rafig Babayev

Recently I have listened to any amount of music played by Rafiq and, while it still remains with me, I am sure it has not yet received the analysis it deserves. I believe musicians and musicologists should approach his work seriously, because there are so many interesting ideas in his work and they are not to be found in the works of our other outstanding jazz musicians. Rafiq could sequence traditional melodies with his own harmonies. In fact it is very difficult to harmonise traditional Azerbaijani folk music, because, from the theoretical point of view, any 'right' melody is not necessarily suitable for this purpose. The specific style of Azerbaijani folk music demands a particular kind of harmony. To find a suitable 'vertical' for any one melody demands talent and intuition and it is impossible by merely counting; I have to emphasise that Rafiq had his own approach. The harmonic language he found for the Azerbaijani melody resembled no other: he formed a musical base, both fascinating and easy on the ear. Many see it as a lyrical style. This is arguable; I would rather say it was Rafiq Babayev's own style.

Rafig Babayev

I was in touch with Rafiq over a long period and sometimes we would meet. I was working on the radio and so was Rafiq, from 1983 - 90, but before that we met at various concerts and events and even shared some projects, too. In communication Rafiq was highly cultured; for him people's attitudes towards each other was of great importance. His humane qualities earned him great respect among musicians. He was an intellectual, in the true meaning of the word, a highly developed, all-round artist. In short, he was a real musician.

Rafig Babayev

Javanshir muellim, there is a lot of cinema music among Rafiq Babayev's recordings. Besides the music he wrote for 23 films, he also recorded the cinema work of other composers. I think that, as a musician of the jazz school, this genre allowed him to add something particularly his own…

Yes, that's true; this genre enables a player to bring his individuality to the fore. I was sound director on some of Rafiq's films and I witnessed how he worked from the heart and enjoyed it. We musicians often say that when we are 'alive' when we are involved in some interesting project, meaning we are mentally stimulated. Looking into Rafiq's eyes when he was busy with this work, we could see how 'alive' he was. It was so important for him to be composing in the 'here and now'.

Rafig Babayev

Javanshir muellim, you are widely experienced in cinema, both as a composer and as a sound director, what, for you, is the secret of writing music for film?

First of all, cinema music demands that the composer understands both dramaturgy in general and the dramaturgy of music in film. In film, music becomes a "character", although not seen on the screen it carries the director's ideas. Music can create nuances beyond the means of an actor or other visual role. The emotional element provided by music may support the film's plot in its influence on the audience. This is why the composer of film music needs to understand cinema dramaturgy. Rafiq Babayev understood this very well.

Rafig Babayev

Can we say that cinema music consists of two stages: composition and studio recording; the first stage is always stable, the second stage is in some way a live process, and is open to change - am I right?

I agree with you about the two stages, but it is not completely correct to say that composing is a petrified process, because this process is also open to change. Sometimes new music can arise from what has already been written, during recording there are changes and re-composition. Work on the music continues until the film is complete. - Phrases are moved, new music is added, and so on. This process finishes only when the film is screened; it is very interesting work.

Rafig Babayev

Does the composer bring a complete score to the recording studio?

It depends on the musician and those like Rafiq Babayev and Vagif Mustafa-zadeh didn't need complete scores; even if there was a score, they created their own music. It was enough to explain the composers' theme to the musicians and what was required of them. All other issues - the character of the music, stress, tempo and instruments necessary, were sorted out in the recording studio. At this point, the composer and musicians create the music through discussion.

Rafig Babayev

Does this mean that cinema music rose to a new level with the arrival of jazz-oriented musicians?

That's right, I absolutely agree with you. It would be interesting to research and analyse the history and development of music in Azerbaijani cinema.
Rafig Babayev

Music was previously written as a score and, as a rule, used the symphonic form. It needed long rehearsal and was recorded by following the score. Rafiq's arrival in the cinema established an element of musical freedom; now scored music was relegated to second place. There was more decision-making and opportunity to improvise. It hugely increased the scope of film's musical palette. From this point of view, films became more and more interesting. I remember when we were recording Rafiq's music for Oktay Mirgasimov's films, "Silver Van" and "I Want to Understand", he was making decisions as he recorded in the studio. The director was also there and Rafiq, in consultation, could suddenly change everything. Thus important dramaturgical discovery was taking place in the studio.

Rafig Babayev

Which musicians continue this line of improvisation in cinema today?

We have the musicians but, unfortunately, not the films. For example, Jamil Amirov and Salman Gambarov work in this direction. Besides being jazz musicians, they have academic educations but how paradoxical that academic music rules can be "useless" for them. I had a very good teacher of harmony, Boris Yermalayev, who used to say that we study the rules in order to break them.

Rafig Babayev

Anyone who breaks the rules without knowing them simply destroys tradition, and that's all. But he who knows the rules and rites of music, by breaking them creates new rules and traditions. Rafiq Babayev left a legacy of professional musicianship to other musicians. Always rejecting the canons and proving his case by making new ones. In all his work he wanted to prove that however free the music, especially jazz, it had to follow a serious logic and human values.

Rafig Babayev

This is why the musicians who continue Rafiq Babayev's tradition of improvisation in the cinema are educated, thoughtful and understanding of their predecessor's legacy; they re-work it to create anew.

by Fariza Babayeva



Rafiq Babayev. Creative Journey in Jazz. Chronology

1950 - In School 160 he forms his first "Jazz group" but it is banned by teachers because the wind instrumentalist, Oyrat Rustamzade, carries his saxophone to school rather than his schoolwork.

1954 - For his final exam. at music school, he plays his own programme, including the jazz music of Bill Evans. The chairman of the Examination Board, Fikret Amirov, appreciates this gesture.

Rafig Babayev

1955 - While studying in the piano class of the Uzeyir Hajibeyov Conservatoire, he begins playing jazz in various clubs around the city.

1956 - A jazz composition for two pianos is played for the first time on the Conservatoire's stage (Rafiq Babayev and Rafiq Quliyev) albeit at an informal New Year's party.

1957 - Rafiq Babayev represents Baku as a jazz pianist at the 6th World Festival for Youth and Students in Moscow.

Rafig Babayev

1959 - His next great success is in the final examination at the Conservatoire. Playing Liszt's First Concerto he surprises all by including his own improvisation.

1960 - As music director of an instrumental jazz group, he embarks upon a three week tour of the Soviet Union with French singer Jacques Duvalyan.

Rafig Babayev

1962 - He meets, in Tallinn, Uno Naisoo, author of the first educational book about jazz harmony. Naisoo presents Rafiq with his own jazz partitura.

1963 - He plays the premiere performance of Khayyam Mirzazade's composition, "Ocherkler (Essays) - 63" with the Symphony Orchestra led by Leo Mortsginsberg. The composer entrusts it to Rafiq Babayev, as a jazz musician, because this suits the modern idiom of the composition.

Rafig Babayev

1965 - As his instrumental jazz quartet combines with Teymur Mirzeyev's Baku vocal quintet, Rafiq Babayev becomes musical director of the "Gaya" jazz vocal/instrumental group.
- He works with Murad Kajlayev in Mahachgala. "Gaya" temporarily becomes "Gunib".
- His first work with film - "Gunib" contributes music to the film, "Girl from Abroad" produced by the Odessa Studios.

1966 - Records jazz for the Soviet 'Melodiya' label, including compositions by Gershwin, Bonf, Hegart and Ellington.
- Rafiq Babayev becomes musical director of the Song Theatre.
- Rafiq Babayev's quartet (Y. Serdarov, A. Khojabagarov, A. Dadashov) becomes a laureate of the Tallinn Jazz Festival.

Rafig Babayev

1967 - The quartet was again laureate of the Tallinn Jazz Festival, in the category 'Best Composition', for their playing of Babayev's piece in the 'Bayati Kurd' form. The critics, led by W. Conover, regard this as the first jazz composition to be based on mugham.
- This composition was released on record by 'Melodiya'.
- Rafiq Babayev announces an initiative to organise the first Baku Jazz Festival. During the following four years he was a participant as well as being a member of the jury.

1968 - Research into the interconnections and influences between jazz and mugham continues. His experimental compositions in the 'Marhur' and 'Segah' forms are recorded and played on Baku radio by tar player Aliaga Guliyev and the jazz quartet.

Rafig Babayev

1969 - Participates in the "Jazz Mini Festival" in Novosibirsk.
- New opportunities open for improvisation. Rafiq Babayev composes the music for the first of his 23 film scores; he also recorded the music of other composers.

1970 - The quartet is laureate of the Kuybushev Jazz Festival.
- He records improvisations on themes of the operettas, "Cuba, My Love" and "Fourth Vertebra" by R Hajiyev.
- He takes part, together with Vagif Mustafa-zadeh, in the first official jazz concert by Gara Garayev.
- The quartet features in the documentary, "Night Conversation" (Azerbaijani Film).

Rafig Babayev

1971 - He forms the instrumental group 'Jangi' (R. Babayev, Y. Serdarov, R. Rzayev, T. Shabanov, M. Petrosov).
- He works within Jazz-Rock.

1976 - 'Jangi' works on the ship 'Odessa' cruising between Canada and Mexico.
- At the 'Expo' in Montreal and also playing concerts in other Canadian and US cities.
- Jam sessions with American groups also working on the ship.
- New creative period - including acoustic music and electronic sounds.

1978 - Considers a recording project with Vagif Mustafa-zadeh, but it was not to be.

Rafig Babayev

1982 - Rafiq Babayev is the first jazz composer to achieve membership of the Composers' Union in Azerbaijan.

1983 - Becomes director of the Variety Symphony Orchestra. From the orchestra he forms the soloists' jazz ensemble (R. Babayev, J. Amirov, S. Kerimi, G. Stepanishev, a. Abbasov, E. Qasanov, R. Sultanov, P. Adip, T.Jabbarov).
- Plays the composition "Memory's Light" as a contribution to the festival dedicated to Vagif Mustafa-zadeh in Baku.
- Rafiq Babayev, with his group, presents Aziza Mustafa-zadeh in her new role as vocalist.

1985 - He plays in the Moscow Youth and Students 12th World Festival: a new project of jazz/mugham with Akif Islamzade.
- First concert with his new group in the Baku Opera Studio.

Rafig Babayev

1986 - Makes a TV programme with Tofiq Guliyev; "Jazz Monologue", broadcast throughout the USSR via the Moscow channel.
- His ensemble becomes a laureate of the Tbilisi Jazz Festival.
- He forms a Variety Music Department in the Asef Zeynalli Music School, teaching the basics of jazz harmony.

1987 - He organises the Baku World Jazz Festival and participates.

Rafig Babayev

1988 - Jazz concert in Baku Miniature Centre.
- In India for a concert as part of "Azerbaijan Culture Days".

1991 - In France for a concert as part of "Azerbaijan Culture Days".
- He forms his own studio.
- He re-forms the 'Jangi' group (R. Babayev, S.Kerimi, R. Sultanov).
- He works on a joint project with G. Sadikhov, E. Sadikhov, G. Mamedov and other folk musicians.
- He experiments with electronic music on syntheses of mugham and modern music forms.

1993 - Jazz concert in Gulustan Palace.

Rafig Babayev

1994 - Records the album, 'Nostalgie'. After his death the recording is completed by J. Amirov and S. Kerimi.



Rafig Babayev's film music

1969 Study of Azerbaijan Documentary O. Mirqasimov "Azerbaijanfilm" film studio
1970 Bread Documentary Z. Meherrimov "Azerbaijanfilm" film studio
1970 Ten Minutes about Baku Documentary O. Mirqasimov "Azerbaijanfilm" film studio
1971 Night Conversation Documentary O. Mirqasimov "Azerbaijanfilm" film studio
1974 1001st Tour Feature O. Mirqasimov "Azerbaijanfilm" film studio
1978 Together with Spring Documentary Z. Meherrimov "Azerbaijanfilm" film studio
1978 Family Dacha* Feature Y. Qusman "Azerbaijanfilm" film studio
1979 Carriage Driver Documentary C. Ferejov "Azerbaijanfilm" film studio
1980 I Want to Understand Feature O. Mirqasimov "Azerbaijanfilm" film studio
1982 Silver Lorry Feature O. Mirqasimov "Azerbaijanfilm" film studio
1982 Shelf Documentary R. Shahmaliyev "Azerbaijanfilm" film studio

Rafig Babayev

1984 Earth-Space Connection Documentary R. Shahmaliyev "Azerbaijanfilm" film studio
1985 Genie in the Suburb Feature O. Mirqasimov "Azerbaijanfilm" film studio
1985 One Evening... Animation F. Qurbanova "Azerbaijanfilm" film studio
1986 Under the Homeland Sky Documentary I. Safarov "Azerbaijantelefilm" Production Unit
1986 Good Tale Animation V. Behbudov "Azerbaijantelefilm" Production Unit
1986 Black Stork Animation V. Behbudov "Azerbaijantelefilm" Production Unit
1987 A Devil Before Your Eyes Feature O. Mirqasimov "Azerbaijanfilm" film studio
1987 1000 Years Documentary I. Safarov "Azerbaijantelefilm" Production Unit
1987 Magic Lamp Animation V. Behbudov "Azerbaijantelefilm" Production Unit
1988 The Courage of Basat Animation V. Behbudov "Azerbaijantelefilm" Production Unit
1989 Memory Documentary I. Safarov "Azerbaijantelefilm" Production Unit
1989 Qurbanali bey Animation V. Behbudov "Azerbaijantelefilm" Production Unit

*Writer's title