The Azerbaijani jazz (Azerbaijani: Azərbaycan cazı) is a popular variety of jazz, widespread in Azerbaijan. It covers a broad range of styles (traditional, post-pop, fusion, free flexion)[1] and often features a blend with traditional Azeri music. Among modern famed Azeri jazz musicians are Aziza Mustafazadeh, who was influenced by Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett,[2] Rain Sultanov, Isfar Sarabski, Shahin Novrasli.


20th century

Jazz first appeared in Azerbaijan at the beginning of the 20th century.[3] During the Soviet period, Baku was one of the three cities best known for jazz, along with Saint Petersburg and Riga.[3]

The Eastern Jazz Band, whose performances in Moscow were advertised in 1926, included Huseyngulu Sarabski as a soloist. In the 1930s, Niyazi and Tofig Guliyev Vagif Mustafazadeh created the first local jazz band. However, jazz in the Soviet Union faced prohibition and censorship from 1920 through to 1953.[4] By the 1950s, jazz musicians from many Soviet cities, looking for a safe harbour, gradually gathered in Baku. In the late 1960s, the Azerbaijani jazz music was boosted by such composers as Gara Garayev and Rauf Hajiyev.

In 1969, the first jazz festival was held in Baku.[5]

21st century

As of 2000s, the country saw increase in jazz festivals, the music festivals such as Baku International Jazz Festival and Gabala International Music Festival are held annually.[6] The Baku Jazz Center has been created for development and support of jazz culture in Azerbaijan.[7]

Baku Jazz Festival has been held since 2005;[8] it was founded by the Azerbaijani musician Rain Sultanov and has proved itself as one of the biggest events of the Azerbaijan for more than a decade.[citation needed] Baku Jazz Festival is a celebration of music and a forum, which will include areas such as education (seminars, workshops), contests (young talents International Baku Jazz Competition "I am Jazzman!"), art and photo exhibitions, jam sessions, jazz film days and jazz concerts. Baku Jazz Festival was attended by such artists as Al Jarreau, Joe Zawinul, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Joshua Redman, Charles Lloyd and Diana Krall. Baku Jazz Festival is advertised and covered on the Euronews channel, in 2006 the festival joined the list of the world largest jazz festivals, and each year the festival is attended by over 200,000 spectators.[9]

Jazz Dunyasi magazine[10] is the first printed edition of jazz in Azerbaijan. It has been published since 2004 and founded by its chief editor Leyla Efendiyeva.[11] The Jazz Dunyasi magazine talks about the world of jazz, jazz in Azerbaijan. It contains information on the new CD, jazz festivals, young talent and stars of jazz. The Jazz Dunyasi magazine has its annual pavilion at the international exhibition Jazzahead![12]

Artists such as Aziza Mustafa Zadeh, Rain Sultanov,[13] Amina Figarova, Isfar Sarabski and Shahin Novrasli achieved worldwide success, who returned triumphant from Montreux Jazz Festival in 2007.[14][15][16]

Derivatives and offshoots

The most known type of Azerbaijani jazz is Jazz mugham, which includes a sultry combination of Mugham and traditional American jazz.[5][17] The style reached its full fame in the 1950s and 1960s under the influence of composer Rafig Babayev and his Gaya Quartet and jazz pianist and composer Vagif Mustafazadeh.[5][18] Dizzy Gillespie, the legendary American jazz trumpeter, reportedly lauded Mustafazadeh for creating "the music of the future."[5]

Notable performers




Tofig Ahmadov in the 1940s.



  1. ^ "Music". Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
  2. ^ William Minor. Unzipped souls: a jazz journey through the Soviet Union, Temple University Press, 1995, p. 83-84
  3. ^ a b "Jazz in Azerbaijan: time-honoured tradition". UNESCO. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  4. ^ Martin Lücke. "Vilified, Venerated, Forbidden: Jazz in the Stalinist Era..." (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 June 2010. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d Duncan, Ishdad. "The Baku Jazz Festival: Reviving a Tradition in Azerbaijan". Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  6. ^ "IV Габалинский фестиваль собирает музыкантов мира". (in Russian). 23 July 2012. Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  7. ^ Wrathall, Claire (10 April 2012). "Baku to the future". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  8. ^ "HOME". bakujazzfestival.
  9. ^ "Baku Jazz Festival". 25 March 2017.
  10. ^ Jazz Dunyasi Archived 2019-08-25 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Jazz Dunyasi представил Азербайджан на всемирной выставке Jazzahead – ФОТО".
  13. ^ "Rain Sultanov 'Seven Sounds from Azerbaijan' (AZ) at Porgy & Bess, Nov. 26, 2014". Porgy & Bess.
  14. ^ Шаин Новрасли- звезда на небосклоне джазовой музыки (in Russian). Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  15. ^ Noble, John (2008). Georgia, Armenia & Azerbaijan. Ediz. Inglese. Lonely Planet. p. 233.
  16. ^ Fordham, John (6 February 2014). "Shahin Novrasli: Bayati – review". Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  17. ^ Esslemont, Tom (14 February 2010). "Azerbaijan mugham music makes revival". Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  18. ^ Blair, Betty. "Mugham Jazz: Vagif Mustafazade". Azerbaijan International. Retrieved 29 June 2014.

Inna Naroditskaya, “Azerbaijani Mugham Jazz,” Jazz Worlds/World Jazz, ed. Philip V. Bohlman and Goffredo Plastino, Chicago, London: University of Chicago Press, 2016, 98-124.