Monday, May 16, 2011

This is NOT Eurovision: Aziza Mustafa Zadeh

Hurrah! Azerbaijan has won the 2011 Eurovision Song Competition, the largest, glitziest, most popular and (from this observer’s point of view) weirdest music contest ever conceived by man. While the Washerman’s Dog likes to tune in each year to watch (parts) of the overproduced frenzy of frocks, freaks and flashing fluorescent lighting, the TV is inevitably on mute. Because the last thing you want to be bothered by during Eurovision is the music.    So if you missed the broadcast, rest assured, you didn’t miss anything, except a hilarious pair of Irish twins who looked strangely like Thing One and Thing Two of Cat in the Hat fame, and who actually did perform a catchy and fun bubblegum pop cracker.
Azerbaijan's winning act!

But let’s not take anything away from Azerbaijan.  This oil rich former Soviet Republic doesn’t get a lot of coverage in the music press. Rolling Stone and Mojo do not have Baku correspondents.  But tonight the Washerman’s Dog honors that ancient rocky land by swinging the spotlight on one of its favorite daughter’s Aziza Mustafa Zadeh.

Aziza was born into a musical Azeri family in 1969. Her father was a composer and pianist who experimented with blending traditional Azeri music and jazz.  Her mother was a classical singer and at a very young age, Aziza shared the stage with her father, improvising vocals to match his jazz-fusion compositions.  Born with an acute sensitivity to music, Aziza tells the following story of when she was still less than a year old.

Aziza Mustafa Zadeh
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. 'Vagif, please,' she told my father, 'change the scale. Go to Rast. Play Rast.' And he did. 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!' And when he did, I started crying again louder than before. At least, that's what they tell me. Back to Rast, and I began dancing again.

Concentrating on the piano, Aziza’s musical journey took off rapidly and in 1988 she won third place in the Thelonius Monk piano competition in the USA. She has released a number of albums which are labeled ‘jazz’ but are equally steeped in the classical and avant garde musical styles of her father. In addition to her spectacular piano virtuosity Aziza’s  one of a kind improvised singing style entwines most songs like a creeper twisting around the trunk of a great tree. This is amazing and innovative music. Totally unsuitable of course for Eurovision, but worth a listen nonetheless.

Track Listing:
01 Holiday Blessings
02 Ladies of Azerbaijan
03 Uv (Unutma Vjdani)
04 Sweet Sadness
05 M25
06 Ayrilik
07 Fire Worship
08 Shamans
09 Strange Mood
10 Uzun Ince Bir Yoldayim
11 Endless Power
12 Melancholic Princess
13 Bach-Zadeh
14 Portrait of Chopin

Listen here.


Miguel said...

Yes !

Bana bana Girl :)

Miguel said...



ajnabi said...

spasiba bolshoi! or
Kheli mamnoon.

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