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Azerbaijan honors jazzman Rafig Babayev

The composer's 78th anniversary is marked today

Baku. 31 March. REPORT.AZ/ Today is the birthday of People's Artist of Azerbaijan, a talented musician, composer Rafig Babayev.

Report informs that the composer's 78th anniversary is marked.

Rafig Babayev was born in 1937 in Baku. His family were interested in music.

Rafig's father, Farzi Babayev, was imprisoned by Soviet authorities and he was brought up by mother, Shahbeyim, in poverty, together with his three sisters and brother. Four children of the family, including Rafig Babayev, later became professional musicians. Rafig Babayev got his first musical education at a special musical school (1943–1950) and later entered fortepiano class of Baku Musical School named after Asaf Zeynally (1950–1954). Being a student of the school, he worked as a musical instructor of an instrumental ensemble, was keen on jazz music and became proficient in improvisation art. Composition of American jazz pianist Bill Evans was also included in his graduation examination program besides classic music. So Rafig Babayev’s career as a jazz musician began. 

Graduating from Azerbaijan State Conservatory named afterUzeyir Hajibeyov in 1959, Rafig Babayev entirely devoted himself to jazz music, became musical manager of jazz-instrumental group, with which he went on a long tour throughout the Soviet Union. In 1966, he made acquaintance with eminent singer Rashid Behbudov, who established the Music Theatre. Rashid Behbudov invited Rafig Babayev to be a musical manager of the Music Theatre and they prepared a great dramatized concert program. In this period Rafig Babayev continued his creative activity in the sphere of jazz music, always participating at jazz festivals. In 1967, Rafig Babayev’s ensemble became a laureate of the International Jazz Festival in Tallinn. Rafig Babayev’s composition, which was performed in harmony of "Bayati-Kurd mugham" was especially mentioned.

In 1978, Rafig Babayev was conferred a title of Honored Artist of Azerbaijan for his great merits in development of musical culture of Azerbaijan. In 1984, he was invited to work as an artistic manager and chief conductor of Symphonic Estrada Orchestra of Azerbaijan State Broadcasting Company. In this period Rafig Babayev carried out great pedagogical work for rising young instrumentalist musicians and vocalists’ performance level. Under this orchestra Rafig Babayev created an ensemble of soloists, which was very popular in Azerbaijan and in other foreign countries. 

In 1991, Rafig Babayev organized folkloric jazz group “Jangi” and created recording studio, which helped the group in realization of musical projects. The group performed colorful compositions, using folk instruments, enriching them with uncommon harmony, melodically combining music of the Eastern and the Western civilizations.

Rafig Babayev was the member of the Union of Composers and the Union of Cinematographers, he gained fame as a unique musician, composer, high class pianist, public figure, organizer of various creative contests, viewings and festivals. Great amount of jazz compositions, pieces, songs, various arrangements for folk songs, scores for more than 20 films were created by him. In 1993, Rafig Babayev conferred the title of People’s Artist of Azerbaijan for his merits for Azerbaijani culture. In 1993 Babayev's jazz band arrived to California, to perform in Los Angeles. 

On March 19, 1994, tens of innocent civilians, including women, children and elderly people were victims of bloody terror committed by Armenian extremists. Rafig Babayev was among those victims who were killed in an explosion in Baku Metro "20 January" station. 14 people died and 49 people were injured in an explosion. As a result of the investigation, "Sadval" separatist organization members were arrested, it was revealed during the investigation that the terrorists had close contacts with the intelligence agencies of Armenia and they were specially trained there.

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