It is jazz time in Baku. The capital of Azerbaijan will host jazz musicians from all four corners of the planet, among them American pianist Craig Taborn.
He is joined by James Bates on drums and Thomas Morgan on bass.
Forty-four year old Taborn began playing a Moog synthesizer and the electric keyboard as a teenager. But he enjoys classical piano most: “There are a lot of ways to approach it because there is this traditional way to approach it… and I also can get inside. You know we are already in several different worlds sonically when you do that – that’s what I like out it. I can move this lyrical space to aggressive and violent and then go back without turning knobs, imagine that.”
When he is improvising, Craig Taborn often adopts a modular approach, using small melodies and rhythm and then developing them.
Terri Lyne Carrington is the band leader. Among the drummer’s many accolades in her career, a Grammy. She has played with jazz icons Herbie Hancock, Al Jarreau and Stan Getz.
It can take hours to tune her drums. “I like to tune to each room,” she explained. “Every room is different, the overtones in each room are different, and the same drum kit sounds different in every room. And because we don’t travel with drum kits anymore I have to play a different drum set every night, so I have to make it comfortable to me,” she said.
The 49-year-old from Massachusetts began her musical career aged seven when her grandfather gave her a drum set for her birthday. Playing alongside Carrington in Baku were Aaron Parks on the piano, Antonio Hart on the saxophone and Zachary Brown on bass.
Elchin Schirinov is one of Azerbaijan’s up-and-coming jazz pianists. He said he has been inspired by Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock and Brad Medlau. The highly complex musical composition from Azerbaijan, Mugham has also influenced his style.
“What’s the same between jazz and Mugham improvisation are some scales. Mugham has also scales like jazz music,” Schirinov told Euronews. “Mugham also has scales and you can – if you know this music deeply – improvise.”
Elchin Schirinov played at the Baku Jazz festival with Ben Street on double bass and Jeff Ballard on drums. The two Americans were invited by the Azerbaijani jazz musician to join him.