"An academic training makes jazz more interesting"

"After thinking for a whole day, it became clear to me that learning is more efficient if practised in short periods".

It is evident that the foundation of every national culture is education. My interviewee today is someone directly involved in education in Azerbaijan; the head of Baku's Music Academy and one of the founders of the Baku Jazz Centre. Farhad Badalbeyli is a fine example of the result of a good education, being perfectly in step with his time; through him our country's music continues its development.

Farhad, muellim, why is it that there is still no Faculty of Jazz in the Baku Music Academy?
In fact there is a jazz faculty, but practically no one applies to it. I believe there are some specific reasons for this. Most jazz musicians have only come to jazz later, after first graduating from other faculties of the Music Academy. The idea of being a jazz musician appears suddenly. Sometimes a musician begins to play jazz at 18 or 20 years of age. This is fine, and we support such a step - let youth enter this faculty and work for their diploma. There is a problem, however; jazz musicians are freedom-loving by nature and any pedagogical institution demands discipline and a systematic approach. For example, Rauf Babayev and the members of the Beri Bakh group work within this system. They have achieved great results by systematically rehearsing their acapella and jazz improvisations. I'd like to say that it demands hard work, and we are always ready to accept this kind of young student.

But anyway, isn't it necessary, to be a good jazz musician, to have a good schooling in classical music?
Of course a knowledge of classical music gives a musician greater self-confidence. I believe that a real jazz musician must have a background of classical music. In America, classical jazz education includes harmony, solfeggio, counterpoint, notes on improvisation and other aspects. None of this is very easy. Of course geniuses can emerge without a formal musical education, but they are very rare. An academic training makes jazz more interesting. If he is to realise his ideas a jazzman has to be able to play triplets, octaves and double notes. For example, Peterson plays passages with such talent that no classical musician can compare with him. Even playing at high speed, every single note is clear. This is basically a result of classical training.
Фархад Бадалбейли

What is your opinion of jazz musicians playing classical music?
Fine. There are some interesting developments these days: jazz looks to classical, classical takes from popular music. For example, Pavarotti sings with Sting, Spivakov and his virtuosos play jazz concerts and classical and jazz musicians play together. Now life is more democratic, television gives us the chance to watch jazz concerts in Germany and other countries. We didn't have such opportunities before. Now it is normal to accept jazz as a legitimate genre and the continuous development of classical music. For example, in the past the playing of Gershwin in concerts was frowned upon, even though it filled the halls and clearly reached the audiences. At that time, the works of Brahms, Liszt and others were much more acceptable. Nowadays, jazz is mixed with classical and has established a new form of modern music.

What is your opinion of the position of jazz in Azerbaijan?
Jazz is still in a process of development here, we have many talented musicians. Conditions have to be improved for them and for their audiences. The opening of the Baku Jazz Centre is good news; it provides the facilities for both rehearsals and for concerts. There should be more of these places. Baku has traditionally been a jazz city and we have to maintain this tradition. I would like to see Festivals here again and invitations to famous musicians - then the audiences will increase and jazz will become more popular.

Maybe Jazz and Classical music need better promotion?
Of course this is necessary, when you compare the promotion of jazz compared with that for pop music, there should be ten times more advertising for jazz. There should be greater promotion of jazz and support for young talent. Television and radio have their part to play: they pay more attention to lower-level show business than to real music. I'm sure jazz will soon return to its rightful position and our youth will want to study it, receiving a good education in the process.

Leyla Efendiyeva