Therefore Montreux can be considered as an indicator. In the same year, along with Isfar Sarabsky, the winner of young artists contest was the Georgian artist - very original, young, and so on. Honestly and correctly. Another issue is that the Montreux Jazz Festival has knowing, appreciating audience. There are only jazz people, they are all jazz lovers. Thus, that is the place where the talents manifest themselves very quickly. They are listened by the people who do not just come to the concert, but the people who know jazz, know every note, every fret, how many octaves the person is singing, how many octaves he/she plays, well, in short, a fairly high professional level of the viewer. That is important.
JD.: Well, you said that a large number of tourists is accumulated there. But there was a time when Montreux was unremarkable, one of many Swiss towns. But it is due to jazz festivals, they were able to develop it. Do you think that we can develop tourism in our city with the help of a jazz festival?
Rauf Aliyev: I cannot say that the jazz festival can be a great impetus for the development of tourism in the global sense. But jazz festivals can create brand-name of the city. If Montreux became famous around the world as the European Mecca of jazz, the Baku Jazz Festival could be the brand of the city; this is my long-held dream. In the creation of the Baku jazz brand, it is necessary of course to spend money, and we should have completely selfless organizing group, which should not only organize the festival but turn it into brand. And to turn it into brand, it is necessary to attract here the well-known names, hardly walking, almost dying, like Quincy Jones this year in Montreux, he was hardly moving his legs, and Al Jarreau, he was carried to the scene, but carried after all, you know ... Thus Montreux Jazz Festival once again proved that it is brand. And the musicians, even on their deathbed, want to perform on this scene. At the scene, where the greatest jazz musicians of the world performed.
And that is not nonsense for us. Our state leadership does it all the time: Chess Olympics, Formula 1. And then the criticism of the costs starts, but smart people do not start it. But Baku - Formula 1 is a brand you know and when tomorrow somebody asks "Where? In Baku?", and we will respond "Yes, in Baku, where Formula 1 was held". It's an integrated approach to tourism. I think that Azerbaijan has strong enough and well-established infrastructure of the city, the boulevard. I know a lot of places where you can hold the great festivals, whether it's jazz festival on the beach, or on the stages at the boulevard, where you can carry out an incredible open air jam session, that's my dream.
JD.: What do we need? Do we need support from the state or any structure or should it be a private-sector initiative? What do we need now to turn our festival into top-class?
Rauf Aliyev: Of course, we need the same approach to the festival, as it was for the Formula 1. Figures are disparate, of course, but you need at least a bit of this to be applied to jazz and everything will be the same, the small attention of the state to the large-scale event organization. Another issue is our people. Our people like to hang out. They always liked doing it, the level was a bit VIP. Today we can say that young people learned to party as the youth, and this spirit of youth is high enough, it is only necessary to be maintained. Of course, if there is public support, even moral, this event will get a very different attitude. And of course, as I said, in order to create a brand you first need to invest financially. And if there is state support, even at the level of local jazz lovers, we can raise jazz to the desired level. Since even entrepreneurs always pay attention to the attitude of the government to this issue.
JD.: You are talking about the tops now, then I want to ask you about the origins - in fact the festival begins with musicians. We have known you for many years, and I know that you have supported almost all musicians of our city, in the production of discs, records, concert organizations, and sent them to study and to the festivals. You have done so many things, I'm not talking about our "Jazz dunyası" magazine, which you support for many years. Today you continue to help and play a key role in the development of our jazz. I want to ask such a question. You help our musicians to go abroad, it is right, they should improve their skills there, play, find themselves. Who, then, will stay here as a teacher, as a musician? Do you think that they have to come back here or go there and glorify our country?
Rauf Aliyev: Good question. Of course I have an answer. To attract the attention to Azerbaijani jazz and Azerbaijani music in general, certainly, it should be known. And for this, we have to play there very well. So I've always wanted our stars to reach the world-class jazz. This is why I support Isfar. I'm not a musician but I'm great on music, so I can listen and hear music. I therefore support Isfar and Shahin. You see, these are people who can bring Azerbaijani jazz to the world level. And they did it, actually. I helped someone more, someone less, but they are already out on the world level. Now, if they play only in Baku, at some sort of big state concerts, nobody will know them. And now, when Shahin performs in those halls, he is asked: "Where are you from?" He says: "From Baku". "And whom do you play with?" "I play with Ahmad Jamal." That is enough, because Ahmad Jamal is a jazz luminary, the oldest jazzman on the planet. Suddenly, Ahmad Jamal represents Shahin. He should be there for this purpose. So that he could arrange the arrival of people to our festival in Baku. We have created the A + A Events, which is equipped with the latest technology. We organized concerts of world stars and got reviews from them. It was pleasure to read them and understand that we did it.
Today we are ready for anything. We have a beautiful city, a city of stunned beauty, the people of stunned beauty and we have everything. We need only initiative. That's all, nothing else. You arrive in London, you do not go to the concert hall, you go to the clubs, where Eastwood plays with his band. He comes to the jazz club, which has no luxury, it's just a smoky jazz place, and people go there to listen, eat, drink and enjoy the music.
JD.: Rauf, you said about the jazz club, then another question. Is there any prospect of a new jazz center to be opened in the private sector or, in your opinion, only the state can do it?
Rauf Aliyev: I think jazz club is generally not a commercial enterprise. It is not possible to earn money through the jazz club. Just as the musicians, who usually go to jazz clubs for the jam sessions, do not take money. That's life. Jazz is just different. Jazz is the aura. You do not make any money at the jazz club.
JD.: But just now you said that the London jazz clubs work well, and they are packed with visitors. A lot of beautiful, upscale restaurants are opened in our country, but they are empty. It turns out that they lack something. Cuisine is good, design is good. Perhaps, they lack music. What do you think?
Rauf Aliyev: I can say one thing: we should work. We should work anyway.
JD.: In this case, we figured out with the musicians a little bit. And the last question. What would you say at this time, in a few sentences, to our audience, who will attend your Baku Jazz Festival and will attend our concerts?
Rauf Aliyev: I hope that this year we will impress our public with the organization of the festival. Secondly, the sweetest part of the festival is jam session and I hope that we will make a completely underground approach to the jam session. As to me, jam session generally means underground: gather somewhere outside, under the bridge may be, and play such a concert that you have never seen in any concert hall. I think that we will definitely amaze the audience. For those who usually complain that they are not interested, only two or three shows - this time it will be interesting, and there will be contests, concerts, and jam sessions and much more. I just invite our audience to visit all these shows. Tickets are not expensive. In fact, everything is very budget-friendly. You will have fun. You will be listening to something new, different: Japanese, Brazilian and European. You can have fun of all the concerts, I'm sure.
JD.: Thank you very much for very interesting conversation! I think we can continue it and our next interview on the results of the festival is not far off.