ALASGAR ABBASOV

Alasgar Abbasov

Alasgar Abbasov was born on 24 May 1958 in Baku. In 1965, he was admitted to the Bulbul School where he played the cello. After graduating in 1976, he entered the Azerbaijan State Conservatoire. At the same time, he began working with Gulara Aliyeva in the band Dan Ulduzu as a bass player. Later he worked as part of Vagif Mustafazadeh’s legendary band.

Alasgar: He was difficult but interesting to work with. It was difficult because, for instance, he would write the chords for the guitar the way he would perform them on the piano. Then I felt like I did not have enough fingers; however that helped me master the instrument beautifully. And it was interesting because he himself was an interesting person. He could read people well and found a common language with every one of us.

Alasgar Abbasov

Aziza, Vagif’s daughter, often attended our rehearsals. After the rehearsals, we would spend time together. Vagif loved to eat. Once we made a bet as to who would eat more gutabs. Unfortunately, I won; I had 79, while he had 76.

During our tours, we often had quite interesting experiences. I remember once going on a concert to Yerevan. On the day of the concert, Vagif naturally wanted to test the grand piano which he was to play on later that evening. There were two grand pianos: Steinway and Estonia. But the organizers refused to let him rehearse, saying they had just tuned up Steinway and that it could not be used for four hours. Vagif got pretty upset then. At night, ten minutes prior to the concert, Vagif sat down to practise scales. It turned out that in the middle octave there was no sound from C to C. The organizers were puzzled; no one could understand what had happened.

Alasgar Abbasov

Saxophone player Togif Shabanov moved the cover of the grand piano to the side to reveal a bludgeon under the tappers, to our surprise. Despite all this, the concert was a big success, and the audience did not want to let us go. Instead of the planned two hours, we played for three and a half. At jazz festivals, no one wanted to sit at a grand piano after Vagif. For instance, in Moscow Levinovsky and his band were scheduled to perform after us. When Levinovsky found out, he switched his time slot with another band. These are some memorable stories about Vagif. I am still in touch with Aziza Mustafazadeh. She came to Izmir, where I have been living recently, for a concert. There was a project for a joined concert.

Alasgar Abbasov

From a reference letter issued by the Izmir University of Economics:

“Alasgar Abbasov is an expert on Azerbaijani jazz and is renowned for the quality of music he performs, his gift as a composer and, of course, his strong character. He is a talented teacher, which is expressed through his active cooperation with the youth. The events, musical evenings and plays organized by him are incredibly entertaining.”

Alasgar Abbasov
Alasgar: After Vagif Mustafazadeh’s death, I worked at the Rashid Behbudov Theatre. Rashid Behbudov was a man with a capital M. From him, I learned people skills. I wound up at the theatre thanks to my friend, bass player Rauf Sultanov.

Alasgar Abbasov

He worked at the theatre and recommended me to the Rashid Behbudov. I was also lucky to have worked with the talented musician, pianist Rafig Babayev. My joint path with these great people was a series of lessons for me; I learned about both music and life from Rafig. We played jazz standards with him, and then our theatrical repertoire. Rafig Babayev taught me harmonic moves.

Alasgar Abbasov

To understand soul chords, one must be a musician. I learned from him to differentiate between musicians and swots. A true musician may not always play successfully; it all depends on his or her mood at that moment, whereas a swot would always play well, because he or she has swotted it up so well.

Rafig loved helping people, was concerned about their problems; and not just for the people he knew but also for strangers. Once we were heading back from work in his car. A car swept past really fast, and we heard a woman screaming inside. Rafig overtook that car and asked the driver to stop. Then he came up to the car and asked the woman who was sitting in the back seat: ‘What’s the matter? Do you need help?’ She answered, looking annoyed: ‘Mind your own business!’ Rafig could not long get over that.

Alasgar Abbasov

Later Babayev and I switched to the State Television and Radio Popular Symphonic Orchestra. We established a group of Azerbaijani State Television and Radio soloists, began going on jazz festivals and got to know musicians from the USSR and abroad.

Alasgar Abbasov

Izmir University of Economics:

“After moving to Turkey, Alasgar was instantly invited in the musical group of the Turkish pop star Sezen Aksu. From 1994 on, he has worked with many famous Turkish singers. He has been given a number of awards and prizes. In 1999, he joined the bright and dynamic band Lachinle and together they have given concerts in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Turkmenistan, Kosovo and other places. Alasgar Abbasov took part in the establishment of the Folkloraraşdırma club and a music competition for the youth in Izmir.”

Alasgar Abbasov

Alasgar: In 1992, I was offered a job in Turkey. I worked for Sezen Aksu’s orchestra. I started a folk jazz group, started giving concerts and worked at recording studios. Thanks to Rain Sultanov, in 2005 I gave a concert as part of the Baku Jazz Festival. Today I teach at university, write music, and play the guitar, the bass, the oud, the canon, the keyboard, the buzuk, and the drums. I am very grateful to all my teachers. Thanks to all: MalikAslanov, Rokhlin, Sabir Huseynov, Vagif Mustafazadeh, Rashid Behbudov, Rafig Babayev and John Stewart!