Trans Eurasia travel

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Jazz came to Baku along with the oil industry in the early 1900s and continued to gain in popularity. Most of the world’s best jazz musicians and composers spent at least some time in Baku, whether as a stop on a world tour or on a private pilgrimage to find out what this part of the world could give to their art. During the first decades of the Soviet regime, jazz was outlawed. In fact, any type of music played on the saxophone was outlawed. The saxophone solo in “The Bolero” was played by a bassoon in the Soviet republics during this time. This did not stop jazz from developing, though. Vaqif Mustafazade (1940–79), a pianist, created a fusion of American jazz and traditional Azerbaijani improvisational music called “mugam jazz.” His music used improvised rhythms and scales with moody Muslim-style vocals based on traditional Azerbaijani meykhana, a rhythmic poetry similar to contemporary rap. With the death of Stalin, the prohibition on jazz gradually loosened and Mustafazade became internationally known. He won international jazz festivals and was applauded by the likes of Dizzy Gillespe and B.B.King. Mustafazade died suddenly at the age of 39, but his daughter Aziza continues the tradition of mugam jazz. She has released several CDs and has a large following in Europe.