Aziza was born on December 19, 1969, in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, into an immensely musical family: Her father, Vagif Mustafa Zadeh, an established Jazz legend throughout the former USSR, of whom BB. King said "people call me the king of the blues, but if I could play the piano like you do, I would call myself God," was a pioneer in as much as he was the first musician to incorporate the traditional music of his homeland, known as "mugam" into popular Western Jazz music. Mugam, itself a highly improvisational style, refers to a modal system of music of which there exist over 70 types, all defined by their specific pattern of intervals, range, as well as direction of melodic movement and rhythm. With her father as architect of the Azerbaijani Mugam Jazz Movement, and her mother Eliza Mustafa Zadeh (in Soviet times known as Eliza Khanom), herself a professional singer and one of the first women to sing in the new Mugam Jazz style, it was only a question of when and how Aziza would express her musical heritage, never an if...
Still, she came a long way from the headstrong child fascinated by any kind of art-form (be it music, dance or painting, but bored and annoyed by her early musical teachers, who demanded more commitment to her practicing) to the disciplined professional pianist/singer/composer. Not that she would have lost any of her self-determination. She always liked to have things her way, a philosophy that did not necessarily go down well with her teachers at Baku conservatory where she received classical piano training. While her all to obvious talent was never under dispute, her handling of musical icons was: neither Aziza's trangressive "additions" to Beethoven Sonatas, nor her improvisations on Bach fugues were very much appreciated. "I'm sure Bach would have agreed with it," she said with a smirk at an interview. It was in this same self-confident fashion that she would later on recruit Jazz celebrities such as Al Di Meola, Stanley Clarke, Omar Hakim or Bill Evans as supporting guests on her CD Dance of Fire. The fact that they all came to play her music is not a small achievement for a then 25 year old, not exactly well-known musician. Asked whether she was in the least intimidated by the famous lot she replies: "No. Not at all. In fact, I think I intimidated them a little. It took a lot of time to record and the music was very different. We had to stay up long hours and even then we recorded for the best part of a month."
started playing the piano when she was 3 years old, gave her first
concerts with 14, and won her first international prizes with 17."It
would have been a sin not to use this god-given gift," she muses.
Next to God her parents are Aziza's most important musical leaders,
especially her father. He tragically died
at the early age of 39 of a heart attack after a performance in
Uzbekistan, an event both devastating and strangely motivating for the ten-year old
girl: With Vagif's death she not only lost her father
but a source of inspiration and a gifted mentor for whose unceasing
creativity Aziza continues to have the highest appreciation. "He was
a genius. A true genius." Vagif continued to influence his daughter
beyond his death it seems. Commenting on his death she muses: "For
me, my father has never died. He simply has left this earth. I still feel
his energy surrounding me. Sometimes, it's like his soul is flying around
me, you know. There are times when I give concerts that I feel his
presence so strongly, it's almost tangible. It's like I could reach out
and touch him." Little surprise that her father is omnipresent in
Aziza's work, be it in the form of one of his compositions or in a song
dedicated to him.
|After her husband's death
Eliza Zadeh gave up her own career as a singer and invested her talent and
professional knowledge into her daughter's musical education. In so doing
she continued a tradition of musical collaboration that had formerly
existed between herself and her husband. Eliza not only directed her
daughter's vocal training but would later on become her manager,
co-producer and confidante in all things regarding Aziza's own career.
In 1989 Aziza left her home Azerbaijan for Germany. At present she lives in Mainz.
COMMENTS - QUESTIONS - SUGGESTIONS