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Rhythms of unity: Explore soulful jazz rhythms

30 April 2024 17:45 (UTC+04:00)
Rhythms of unity: Explore soulful jazz rhythms
Laman Ismayilova
Laman Ismayilova
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Every year, April 30 is celebrated as International Jazz Day. Announced by UNESCO in 2012, this remarkable day is celebrated in more than 100 countries, including Azerbaijan, Azernews reports.

International Jazz Day raises awareness in the international community of the virtues of jazz as a force for peace, unity, dialogue, and enhanced cooperation among people, as well as an educational tool.

The idea came from jazz pianist and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock. Jazz Day is chaired by Hancock and the UNESCO Director-General. The celebration is recognised on the calendars of both UNESCO and the United Nations.

The Global Host for this year's celebration is the city of Tangier, Morocco. This marks the first time a city on the African continent has hosted International Jazz Day.

"Tangier is a melting pot of cultural expressions, located at the crossroads of Europe and Africa. It boasts a long, rich history of jazz and is known for its jazz heritage. Many world-renowned jazz artists have performed and spent time in Tangier, including the singer Josephine Baker, the saxophonists Ornette Coleman and Archie Shepp, the flautist Herbie Mann, and jazz master pianist Randy Weston, who lived in Tangier for many years. Weston collaborated with Gnawa master Abdellah El Gourd to explore the roots of jazz and African music.

The four-day celebration (April 27-30) emphasises the city’s jazz heritage and highlights cultural and artistic ties between people in Morocco, Europe, and Africa. The event includes a series of education programmes, events for students of all ages, and conversations about the history of jazz and its impact on Tangier, among thers," the United Nations reports.

It was noted that, led by jazz legend pianist Herbie Hancock, the All-Star Global Concert features performances by an international roster of artists from all corners of the globe, including master Gnawa musician Abdellah El Gourd (Morocco). Other confirmed artists include saxophonists Lakecia Benjamin (USA), Moreira Chonguiça (Mozambique) ; singers Claudia Acuña (Chile), Shemekia Copeland, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Jazzmeia Horn (USA); pianists Tarek Yamani (Lebanon), Billy Childs (USA) and Antonio Faraò (Italy); trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire (USA); multi-instrumentalists Marcus Miller (USA) and Magnus Lindgren (Sweden), etc.

History of Azerbaijani jazz

The history of Azerbaijani jazz dates back to the 1930s. The revival of jazz in the Land of Fire started thanks to the active efforts of great national composers Gara Garayev and Tofig Guliyev.

The first jazz orchestra in Baku in 1938 was created by them. This orchestra, called the State Pop Symphony Orchestra, became the basis of Azerbaijani jazz.

Jazz started flourishing in Azerbaijan in the 1960s, when such outstanding musicians as Vagif Mustafazadeh, Tofig Ahmadov, Rafig Babayev and the Gaya Quartet elevated this musical style to a higher level.

Vagif Mustafazadeh, who experimented creating unrepeatable compositions, became the founder of a new jazz trend, jazz-mugham. This unique genre combines both traditional Azerbaijani music and classic American jazz.

Today, Azerbaijani jazzmen successfully perform at major international music festivals, inspiring audiences with their passion and artistry.

For more than 15 years, the country has hosted the Baku Jazz Festival, which has become an essential part of the country's musical life.

The musical event is organized by acclaimed saxophonist Rain Sultanov to showcase Azerbaijan's long-running attachment to jazz.

The first ever Baku Jazz Festival was held in 2005; since then, it has grown to be widely recognised as one of the country's leading festivals.


Laman Ismayilova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @lmntypewriterrr

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