SHAHIN NOVRASLI

Baku… Jazz… 1960 - 70. For some these years are consigned to the distant past, but others retain clearly the jazz melodies of the era which once resounded in the Veten and Nizami Cinemas and the Dostlug Cafe. At the time there were many amateur and professional musicians striving to reach the peak of their art, seeking to display their talents on the best music stages of the world and to surprise and raise the heartbeats of people of different nationalities and cultures. But in a country subject to the rule of a hard regime, the desires of these creative talents were frustrated. What a pity that those Europeans who write now about our great musicians were unable to hear our heroes play in their own land.
In Baku, where all these traditions were maintained, the love of jazz music ensured that interest was not extinguished. The journey started by the great musicians of the last century has been continued and a new generation of young musicians nurtured. Tofiq Ahmedov, Vagif Mustafa-zadeh, Rafiq Babayev, Tofiq Shabanov, Aziza Mustafa-zadeh, Rain Sultanov….. Today, I can proudly continue the unending list of Azeri musicians by adding the name of an extraordinary young player, Shahin Novrasly.

Shahin Novrasli

Shahin Novrasly's playing excites the listener's interest and takes him to the depths of his soul. As a highly talented musician, Shahin has his own, distinctive approach to music. He has achieved recognition in a very short time and now he has to accomplish that which was beyond the reach of his predecessors. He will represent Azerbaijani jazz at an international jazz in the USA. It is easy and interesting to talk to Shahin because he has a huge love of life, rich ideas and imagination, a desire to be the best and boundless ability.

Shahin, why did you particularly choose jazz?
Everything began after listening to a cassette of Vagif Mustafa-zadeh. From that time I was fascinated by jazz improvisation and harmony. But, before coming to jazz, I had been to professional, classical music school; graduating from the Bul-Bul music school and Baku Music Academy. I saved all my energy for practising ten to twelve hours a day and did my best to attract the attention of my tutors. But later, after graduation, I understood that my genre and my place is jazz. I think jazz is the apogee of music. It can contain classical and folk music and involves the player's soul. This is the only way a player on the stage can compose his own music. But I like all genres… my love for folk music came from my parents. They always wanted me to be a musician, to play on the big stages and make my country more well-known and I do my best to fulfil their wishes.

Shahin Novrasli

What can you say about your trio?
The trio - keyboard, drums and bass guitar, is the basis of my music. The musicians who play with me are professionals. Through hard work in rehearsal we have established a harmony and mutual understanding, but it doesn't mean that I won't work on other projects or work with other musicians. I have a lot of ideas for working with other musicians and experimenting in different directions.

Can you play any other musical instrument?
Not yet, but soon I will be able to. I would like to play a wind instrument, maybe the saxophone, but to play it professionally is a very difficult proposition and requires a lot of time. I would like a new sound to be heard; it would be interesting to play jazz on a folk instrument such as the tutek. I have many ideas and there is so much I want to do.
Shahin Novrasli

You are going to a festival in the USA - how did this come about?
The main reason is that I sent my recordings to different jazz festivals around the world and I received an invitation to the international festival in the city of Minneapolis, state of Minnesota. I am proud that my playing was so much appreciated and I feel a sense of responsibility, excitement and joy. When I was invited to Italy for a solo concert I had the same feelings. Walking through the streets of a small city in Italy and seeing posters with my name and the name of my country in capital letters was a novel experience for me.

In the coming festival, who would you like to meet and play with?
There will be many famous individuals, groups and orchestras at this festival, for example, the Duke Ellington orchestra, Bill Evans' band and others. To play with any of them would be very interesting for me.

Where do you feel more responsibility when you play?
Here in Baku. Here they expect more from me and so I feel more responsibility. It's been nearly a year since I was accepted as a professional musician, and the opening of the Baku Jazz Centre was a major factor in this. The Centre provides the conditions for me and other musicians to rehearse and play in concerts. I was invited to the Caspian Jazz and Blues Festival. I accept the responsibility and I want to work hard. For example, In September I have to go to the jazz festival in Sochi, I am planning to play a classical concert in the Conservertoire's hall - this is a long-held ambition.

Shahin Novrasli

Do you believe in fate?
Yes, I believe in fate and luck. Of course, everyone has to earn success, but at the same time you need a little help from above, as well as support from people. I have a special respect for one person; this is the president of the Azeurotel company, Nuri Ahmedov, who has helped me and many others. I could only play in Italy, and will only be able to go to the festival in the USA with his help. There are others who do their best for the future of our culture, eg I am grateful to Rain Sultanov - he has given me so much help and support. I am grateful to my parents, brothers and teachers - especially Farhad Badalbeyli. All of them believe in me and for that I want to thank them.

What is your greatest wish?
I would like to play Bach's polyphonies in La Scala. This would be the greatest achievement. I have one other wish: to establish a Jazz Academy in Baku.
P.S. - on 25th June, 2004 an International Jazz Festival was held in Minneapolis, USA. For the first time one of the participants in that festival was playing under the flag of Azerbaijan - and giving a great performance. The playing of Shahin Novrasly was received with great acclaim. Yes, Shahin represented his country on the world stage with honour.