Aziza Mustafa Zadeh: Body and Soul and Mugam!
Then in 1998, Aziza a touching tribute to her father’s memory (and, incidentally, using the very name Vaghif Mustafa Zadeh had given her as a child prodigy), Aziza turned the world of jazz onto her deep-rooted mugami side. Joined by Jean ‘Toots’ Thielemans’ (harmonica), Philip Catherine (the ‘gypsy’ guitarist), and Eduardo Contrera (Brasilian percussion). She turned Paul Desmond’s “Take Five” into a dervish romp through an Elysian field of dreams; Rogers and Hart’s ‘My Funny Valentine’ and ‘Orfeo Negro’ became odes to the tradition of mugam and the mugami musicians and actually appeared to race in and out of both songs! Antonio Carlos Join’s ‘Insansatez’ became the ‘shur’ mugam mode and Charlie Parker’s ‘Scrapple from the Apple’ became the ‘rast’! On this album, Aziza also showcased her compositional genius with two new compositions – ‘Sunny Rain’, and another which is pure Aziza – ‘Butterflies’ – with its explosive intermezzo for piano and scat performed with baroque strictness and splendor!
But perhaps the purest and most intriguing – body+soul+mugam album that Aziza has ever made was Seventh Truth , a soaring solo album that is a return (well, almost) to her roots. With this definitive statement – running, almost breathlessly track after track – Aziza runs the gauntlet of her deepest emotions. I have heard nothing like this since the Latin ‘Lachrymae Christi’ and the heart-felt ‘crying’ of the song by the great Brasilian chorinhos. Pianistically, she is every match – not just with the likes of Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Art Tatum, but also Vaghif and Franz Liszt!
Aziza Mustafa Zadeh arrived, musically speaking, when, as a baby, she was moved to tears and dance by the mugam of her father, Vaghif Mustafa Zadeh. Now, thanks to her record company’s wisdom and guts Aziza is here to stay... to attempt to move the hearts and souls of a callous world. Yet, with characteristic wisdom and humility beyond her years, she says: “I see progress in my music. I sense it in that music that I have recorded. I’m developing. Getting better. My aspiration is to be able to achieve what my parents have. That’s my dream...!
With such talent and faith in her divinely inspired gifts, it feels good to listeners to wake up – both literally and figuratively as well to the music of the queen of body, soul and mugam. Today is as good a day as any!