ALEXANDER MASHIN: JAZZ BAKU-MOSCOW
Jazz Dunyasi: You perform in Baku as well as in Moscow...it is natural because there are similarities in Azerbaijan and Russian jazz: they belong to the same school, but there are differences too. For example, the melody. What about Eastern music, is it difficult for you?
Alexander Mashin: There are not any difficulties. It is so easy to communicate, because people of Azerbaijan are very sociable. They are very optimistic and that is why it is easy to work together. There are not any problems. When it comes to culture, of course, there are certain differences, but the language of music is so universal that it is always easy to communicate.
JD: Is the East dear for you?
AM: I was always interested with Eastern music. Even in my early childhood I was very interested with Eastern style of music and now I am lucky to work with Azerbaijan musicians. I started my career as a drummer of traditional jazz at the streets: it is a special story. Afterwards I was engaged in modern jazz which quite differs from Azerbaijan one. The tradition to mix jazz and mugham is something special.
JD: Do you mean that as a result of that mixture the world music is created?
AM: It does not matter how we call it. The most important is the quality of music. There is no doubt that there may be interesting results, but everything depends on musicians, how well they understand each other; the personality is very important. If musician is friendly with me then I personally can perform alongside with him very well.
JD: How did it happen that you become a jazz musician? Who influenced you?
AM: When I was a child I always dreamed to be a drummer. During our music lessons at infant school I walked and pretended that I am a drummer and my teachers there looked at each other and said:”Look at Mashin: he thinks he is a drummer!” This memory is unforgettable. Afterwards, my parents decided that it would be well if I go to musical school. I was not very happy with their decision.
AM: Then the following had happened...I came and performed and the teachers began to argue with each other: one of them said that my lips are perfect for trumpet, the other one decided that I should study the clarinet, but at last my lips impressed everyone and they all agreed that I should be accepted at trumpet section of musical school , but as it became clear afterwards there were not enough places and I had been told that I would be accepted if there were not enough pupils. That was why I could not attend musical school and later was offered to enter “Drums” section. I did not have any idea about my own wishes: what I liked and what I disliked, but I started to attend lessons of drums and I think it was my fortune: now I am sure that I could never become a trumpeter or saxophonist.
JD: There is a great problem with drum performers and others t at present in Baku. Besides there are very few bass performers, saxophonists...
AM: But there are many wonderful pianists. I think that it is time to create new traditions.
JD: How can we attract the musicians...?
AM: I can explain: in my country, in Russia, once I came to conclusion that jazz as a profession would not be profitable and I must earn my living by doing other work and the music would become my hobby, but as it turned out later I was mistaken: it became possible to earn the living and enjoy the profession at the same time. Of course there was a time when Igor Butman who made jazz much more popular in our country had helped me very much. The young musicians followed the older ones and realized that the profession of jazz musician is in demand. During Soviet period of time there were a lot of jazz musicians in Azerbaijan, but there are many pianists, less saxophonists, bass and drums performers at present. In order to change the situation it is necessary to create demand: the young jazz musicians should be able to earn their living by their profession. Maybe at present they do not consider the music as a kind of activity, which will support their living standards. Of course, it is not the reason for those whose love for jazz is spiritual and who cannot exist without it. It was precisely what had happened to me.
JD: Maybe there is a necessity to conduct more master classes?
JD: I remember that trumpeter Ferguson who was the participant of Caspian Jazz and Blues Festival had conducted master classes in 2003 in Baku. The great number of people gathered there and afterwards the saxophonists who stopped their activity at present started to perform.
AM: But some of them have been still performing and it is great that they have. As it comes to me, I am always ready for master classes: Elvin Bashirov who grew up considerably and has become very successful drums performer during last couple years and I usually conduct them when I visit Baku. About Elvin I can say that the new very talented drums performer appeared in Baku and it will take him very little time to prove it.
I would like to express my deep gratitude to your readers for their attention. I have a lot of friends here in Baku and I am so happy that one part of me never leaves this place: the great number of concerts and sincere relations with people inspire me very much and every time when I take the plane and I am on my way to Baku I am so excited to visit my home city.
JD: You are so appreciated, loved and well-known in Baku...
AM: I would like to express my gratitude to all of my friends and it is really a great happiness to have such devoted ones. Thank you.
LEYLA EFENDIYEVA.Jazz Dunyasi