Summer 2002 (10.2)
Caspian Jazz and Blues Festival - Baku
Azerbaijan's first-ever international
jazz and blues festival was held in Baku April 8 to 14, 2002.
Organized by American Voices, the Caspian Jazz and Blues Festival
attracted more than 10,000 people.
More than 30 jazz performers came from the United States, Germany
and the Netherlands for the Festival, which included performance
opportunities and concerts at Baku's Republic Palace for the
young and disadvantaged, as well as more than 12 hours of gala
concerts featuring some of the best names in international and
Left: Yasuhito Mori at a jam session at Baku's
Performers included Toots Thielemans, CoCo York, Germany's Verner
Inglert, Mike Shveyzer and Matias Stik, Michael Del Ferron's
trio from the Netherlands and the Grand Orchestra of the U.S.
Air Force. Azerbaijani jazz performers included Salman Gambarov's
Bakustic Jazz Group, Amina Figarova, Ruslan Aghababayev and Rain
Sultanov's Mugham and Jazz Group. The Standard Time Jazz Group
of the Azerbaijan TV and Radio, Vagif Sadigov, Elza Seyidjahan
and Emil Mammadov also joined the events.
The Festival kicked off with a five-day series of workshops for
200 children and young jazz musicians from throughout the city.
Each night, jam sessions were held at Baku's Jazz Club.
"I was very happy to see that such a festival could occur
in Azerbaijan in this 'post-September 11th"world we currently
live in," said John Ferguson, Director of American Voices.
"For me, it was proof of music's special ability to reach
across geography, culture and religion to cultures so far removed
geographically from the United States. The guest musicians were
captivated by the warm hospitality, the talent they encountered
and the beautiful music they heard while in Baku. I think Baku
audiences felt reassured to know that musicians from outside
the country were willing to work so hard to bring something of
themselves to Baku. In any case, I think the possibilities for
more exchange and collaborations in jazz has begun.
Right: U.S. Air Force Band performing at one of the
Carvansarays in the Old City of Baku during the Caspian Jazz
and Blues Festival in April 2002.
"In addition to
thanking our project partners such as the Ministry of Culture,
the U.S. Embassy, the Jazz Club and Bulbul School, we really
must thank our sponsors who helped in so many waysfrom cash
donations to providing drivers, meals and hotel rooms. Without
them, literally none of this would have been possible. We are
also happy to thank the many volunteers from Reliable Future
Organization, United Aid for Azerbaijan (who was also our designated
charity for this festival) and ACCELS former exchange students
to the USA."
Plans are already underway to hold another Caspian Jazz and Blues
Festival in 2003. In the meantime, a festival compilation CD,
sponsored by Garadagh Cement, will be released in September.
Discussions are underway to continue the free workshops and jam
sessions at the Jazz Club, as several festival artists want to
return to Baku on their own in the coming months.
For more about Caspian Jazz
and Blues Festival, see www.bakujazz.com/festival.
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