Azerbaijani spirit comes to two leading London jazz clubs
Baku – APA. Internationally acclaimed Azerbaijani pianist Elchin Shirinov has brought his unique approach to ethno-jazz to two of London’s leading jazz venues – The Spice of Life in Soho and The Vortex in Dalston, performing before an international audience of around 170 across both concerts. The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS) supported his participation.
TEAS told APA that Shirinov – who comes from the Azerbaijani folk tradition – belongs to the new generation of Azerbaijani jazz musicians who combine elements of post-bop jazz with the modes, melodies and microtones of Azerbaijani folk and classical music.
The concert at the Spice of Life on 13 July featured two musicians well-versed in Shirinov’s music – Italian bassist Andrea Di Biase and British drummer Jon Scott, with whom he has regularly collaborated for over two years. Headlining after a set by the UK fusion band Alex Munk’s Flying Machines, he performed before a rapt audience, his Azerbaijani heritage being evident from the start with his version of the Azerbaijani folk song Durna, which began at a furious drum-led pace and was replete with eastern harmonies, microtones and repeated figures, urging on Scott towards increasingly daring and complex drum passages. This, in turn, prompted a staccato response by Shirinov before his pianistic pyrotechnics upped the tempo even further, reaching a new degree of excitement. Throughout the concert, Di Biase demonstrated that the legacy of the great lyric bass player of postbop jazz – Scott LaFaro – remains firmly alive.
Shirinov’s own Waiting, beginning as a languorous and delicate piece, again demonstrated the strong themes and eastern harmonies that are a hallmark of Shirinov’s work, the symbiotic relationship with both western musicians emphasising the infinite understanding and respect that exists between all trio members. Throughout, Shirinov made space for both Scott and Di Biase to improvise as freely as possible, being perfectly content to recede into the background as an accompanist or come to the foreground with his own exciting improvisations whenever necessary, particularly after Scott upped the tempo. Similarly, his composition Muse was a thoughtful and delicate eastern-tinged dance-like melody that provided many opportunities for his own extemporisations to reach new heights of ingenuity, accompanied by Scott’s hand-drumming.
Arguably the most famous Azerbaijani folk song – the enigmatic Sari Gelin – followed, beginning at a stately and reverential pace, laid down by Scott, its sad theme captivating all audience members. This led to an empathetically reflective bowed bass passage from Di Biase. The piece concluded with a richly ornamented variation of the main theme accompanied by a bowed bass in its upper register that stunned every member of the audience into silence.
Introducing each song in English, Elchin followed this with a newly self-penned composition – Chika Chika – a dynamic and staccato piece, full of repeated figures leading to freeform passages. This provided the groundwork for Scott to apply his full arsenal of percussion and percussive techniques, ranging from straightforward on-the-beat drumming through to a dizzying combination of cymbals, high-hats and bass drums that whipped the multinational audience into a frenzy.
Elchin remains as virtually the only jazz pianist to improvise on themes from the Azerbaijani classical repertoire, and he continued his concert by performing his own arrangement of one of the most famous pieces – the Waltz from The Seven Beauties ballet by Gara Garayev. Beginning quietly, the famous theme accompanied by Scott on brushes, Elchin rapidly found a joyous groove that gave space for Di Biase to demonstrate his cerebral approach to the bass, before giving way for Elchin’s return, which was full of flourishes up and down the keyboard, buoyed by Scott’s polyrhythmic drumming. Following its fitful conclusion, one enthused audience member declared the piece to be ‘marvellous’.
He also approached a piece by the father of Azerbaijani classical music – an aria from the 1910 operetta O Olmasin Bu Olsun (If not this one, that one) by Uzeyir Hajibeyli, which he had reworked into non-standard metrical form. Maintaining the richly ornamented main theme, the piano then entered into interplay with drummer Scott, giving rise to increasingly more daring and successively faster improvisations, propelled by Scott’s drumming, before reaching dizzying heights of complexity.
After a rapturous ovation from the jazz cognoscenti in the audience, Shirinov returned to the stage for a version of the folksong Gul Achdi, beginning with a single repeated note on the bass that was picked up on the piano, giving way to staccato variations on the main theme. The dancelike melody resulted in a trancelike state for all audience members, and prompted them to a standing ovation.
The concert two days later in the intimate surroundings of the Vortex jazz club gave Shirinov and Di Biase even more time to stretch out over two sets – this time collaborating with the drummer Dave Hamblett. Billed as ‘London’s Listening Jazz Club’, the attentive audience remained transfixed throughout both sets. The extended performance time also gave Shirinov opportunity to approach one of his favourite standard songs – Michel Legrand’s pensive You Must Believe In Spring, which began with delicate interplay between Shirinov and Di Biase on plucked bass. Shirinov went on to showcase his rhapsodic side, even as he improvised freely around the famous melody.
The response to both concerts by an international audience bore testament to American pianist Brad Mehldau’s testimonial: “Elchin has a really good sense of how to orchestrate for the trio setting. In particular, he finds a distinct place for the piano and the bass in the music ¬– he doesn’t play any extraneous stuff that the bass is already doing.”
Go to www.elchinshirinov.com to experience the innovative work of Elchin Shirinov and to learn more about his forthcoming debut album.
- 22.05.2017Shahin Novrasli – presented by the legendary Ahmad Jamal in Paris
- 05.05.2017Carpet stolen by Armenians from Karabakh, taken to US to be exhibited in Baku
- 09.03.2017European premiere of “Ali and Nino” held in Brussels
- 23.02.2017Not Frozen, Never Forgotten – the plight of Azerbaijani IDPs highlighted in Brussels
- 30.01.2017Film scripted by APA Holding employee invited to int’l film festival
- 28.12.2016Famous Azerbaijani singer Zeynab Khanlarova turns 80 today
- 26.12.2016Azerbaijani People’s artist Aghakhan Abdullayev laid to rest
- 26.12.2016First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva attends farewell ceremony for People’s Artist Aghakhan Abdullayev
- 22.12.2016Azerbaijani people’s artist Mukhtar Maniyev passes away
- 14.12.2016Great cultural, literary figures Azerbaijan and the world lost in 2016 - LIST
- 12.12.2016Honored artist of Azerbaijan Ismayil Mammadov dies
- 27.10.2016Baku to host European film festival
- 26.10.2016‘Ali and Nino’ premieres in Los Angeles to great acclaim
- 24.10.2016Jeffrey Werbock: Had I not known Azerbaijan, I would have been living ordinary life - INTERVIEW
- 21.10.2016“Sayat Nova is Azerbaijani, not Armenian; he is Seyat Neva”
- 06.10.2016Mehriban Aliyeva attends premiere of "Ali and Nino"
- 14.09.2016Pope Francis thanks Azerbaijani sculptor for making his bust
- 09.09.2016Endless corridor movie to be shown in Al Jazeera TV
- 31.08.2016Azerbaijani composer Ogtay Zulfugarov dies aged 88
- 18.05.2016Vital role of Azerbaijani oil in WWII victory highlighted in Los Angeles
- 27.04.2016Films on Azerbaijan produced in Los Angeles
- 12.04.2016Pascal Contet and Travelling Quartet to perform at Heydar Aliyev Center
- 07.03.2016Vidadi Muradov awarded Shohrat Order
- 04.03.2016Statue of Maestro Niyazi to be raised in Baku
- 29.02.2016Exhibition titled ‘Shah Ismail I – commander and king’ to be held in Azerbaijan
- 25.02.2016Azerbaijani people's artist Ilhama Guliyeva dies
- 18.02.2016Play “Red Angel in Khojaly” on Khojaly genocide to be premiered in Baku
- 08.02.2016World premiere of Firangiz Alizadeh’s work held in San Francisco
- 04.02.2016Khojaly massacre documentary ‘Endless Corridor’ wins Humanitarian Award from Global Film Awards
- 04.02.2016Pierre Richard: When people ask me about Baku, my thoughts always go back to friendly people I met there
- 29.01.2016US hosts premiere of film "Ali and Nino"
- 06.01.2016New director of Azerbaijan Academic National Drama Theatre named
- 09.12.2015Endless Corridor film to be broadcast on Eurochannel
- 24.11.2015Turkish Film is winner of this year's LUX Film Prize
- 20.11.2015Honored artist of Azerbaijan to open exhibition in New York
- 18.11.2015Azerbaijani artist receives Mozart medal
- 17.10.2015Seoul hosts opening of Azerbaijan Film Festival - PHOTOSESSION
- 19.09.2015Uzeyir Hajibeyli’s contributions recognized at U.S. Congress
- 17.09.2015Postage stamps dedicated to Azerbaijani composer Uzeyir Hajibeyli and singer Rashid Behbudov issued in U.S.
- 03.09.2015September 18 proclaimed "Uzeyir Hajibeyli Memorial Day" in Santa Monica City of California
- 26.07.2016Azerbaijani classical music discussed in Los Angeles
- 19.08.2016French magazine publishes articles on Azerbaijani jazz
- 25.08.2016Azerbaijani composer to give concert in Paris
- 30.06.2016Baku hosts photo exhibition depicting life of national minorities
- 17.06.2016Exhibition of famous artist George Condo opens at Heydar Aliyev Center
- 09.06.2016Heydar Aliyev Center to host George Condo’s exhibition