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Fusing Jazz with Mugham – Vagif Samadoghlu Throughout Europe, it’s quite possible that people know the name “Aziza” even more than the land from which she comes – Azerbaijan. Just a few days before going to press, we finally caught up with her in Germany as she was in the process of rehearsals for her fifth CD. Here she shares some of her reflections on life, music and her family.

I was born into the world of jazz, and more specifically into the world of “mugam,” a form of traditional, improvisational music in Azerbaijan.

It seems quite natural that I became a jazz performer with such a background. My father, Vagif Mustafa Zadeh, was legendary for his jazz improvisation. He became known as the founder of the Azerbaijani Mugam Jazz Movement that evolved in the late 60s and 70s. Dizzy Gillespie, a famous black jazz trumpeter who had himself contributed so much to the modern jazz movement, used to say, “Vagif’s music is from another planet!

It’s the music of the future! She was one of the first to sing in the new mugam jazz style. How fortunate to have been born into such a family. My mother is fond of telling the story of how she discovered my sensitivity to music.

I was eight-months-old at the time, just a baby really. Once, my father was improvising at the piano playing in the mugam mode known as “Shur,” which creates a mood that evokes very deep, sad emotions. As my father was playing, I started to cry.

Everyone wondered what was happening to me. Why was I crying? And then mother realized the correlation between my feelings and the music. Now ‘Rast’ is characterized by its joyfulness and optimism. And sure enough, with tears still running down my cheeks, I started to make dance-like movements. And Mom pointed out, “Look, look what she’s doing! Change back to ‘Shur! At least, that’s what they tell me. Back to “Rast,” and I began dancing again. You know, I’m the same today.


Maybe the way I express myself has changed, but my soul remains the same-always extraordinarily sensitive to music. My father used to call me “Jazziza.

Some things are very strange in life. My father died just before my 10th birthday. What’s really strange is how many of our family dates are linked so closely together. My mom was born firf December 17, and my birthday is the 19th. Father died on the 16th and was buried on the 18th. So all those dates, 17, 18, and are such a mixture of joy and fo for us and such a philosophical paradox-life and death juxtaposed upon each other like fure.

Actually, I don’t really believe in death. I think it’s only a biological phenomenon, not spiritual. For me, my father has never died. He simply has left this earth. I still feel his energy surrounding me. Sometimes, it’s like his soul is flying around me, you know.

There are times when I give concerts that I feel his presence so strongly, it’s almost tangible.

Dance of Fire – Aziza Mustafa Zadeh | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic

It’s like I could reach out and touch him. Sometimes, I feel it in everyday situations, too. People are often curious about the circumstances surrounding my father’s passing. Curiously, just before he died, a big mirror in the bathroom fell off zadhe wall and broke.

Some people might laugh, but that was the day he left for a concert in Tashkent Uzbekistan. And I started to cry. I cried so hard and I begged him, “Don’t go on this trip. But I begged him not to go. The last time I spoke with him on the telephone was December 15, and I pleaded, “When will you come? I want to see you tomorrow. But, my darling, don’t worry. I’ll be back, and we’ll be together for Momma’s birthday. It seems he hadn’t been feeling well, and doctors muatafa him not to play. But he insisted, “No, I must play.

It was a special Muslim religious day there-the day of Ashura Hussein when men march in the streets and beat themselves in commemoration of the death of Hussein, the third Shiite Imam. After my father finished the concert, he had a severe heart attack and died. He was only Why was his concert scheduled on that day?

Because of the stupid Soviet system. They were always doing things completely wrong. I can’t understand this old system.


It broke the lives and hearts and careers of so many people. In the end, my father died because of so much stress. It really wasn’t fair to him.

They had organized a concert for him on a day when they knew very few people would come. They wanted to shame him. Music is not traditionally performed on that day. My father used to receive so many invitations from abroad inviting him to participate in different international festivals in America, in Europe-everywhere.

Once he was invited to Finland to participate in a mustara festival, but a few minutes before the plane was to take off, someone called, mustaffa.

Aziza Mustafa Zadeh – Dance of Fire

Zadeh, Vagif Zadeh, please return. Someone is waiting for you.

It was a ploy to keep him from going abroad. It was simply because he was a jazz player.

There were many situations like that. But, tell me, what’s wrong with jazz? It’s a great art. In fact, it’s one of the greatest arts on earth.

But the system was so stupid, so unfair. It makes me so heavy to think about these things. After father’s death, my mom stopped her career and directed all her attention and energy to me. Flre so thankful for her. You can’t imagine how much she’s done for me. I trust her musicianship. She has an incredible sense of rhythm and endless creativity.

She helps me with my compositions. It’s the continuation of a tradition that started with my father. He used to compose new jazz pieces, and he would call her, “Eliza, please come. You’re my best critic. What do you think? Which version is better-this one or that one? Every musician should have such a person that he or she can trust both creatively and personally. Thank God, I have my mother. I’ve produced four CDs, and I’m busy recording a fifth. I have some other compositions as well.

I haven’t written them all down, but I remember them dabce and perform them at concerts. To tell you the truth, I don’t have the patience to write them all down. It takes a long time and it’s very difficult.

When I perform, I improvise a lot. My compositions are really quite different from classical jazz.