Willis Conover & Vagif Mustafazade
March 16, 2020, marked the 80th Anniversary of the eminent Azerbaijani jazz pianist Vagif Mustafazade (1940-1979). With joy and pride, the AAMF announces the release of the album "Willis Conover & Vagif Mustafazade JAZZ HOUR" as a tribute to the life and works of this exceptional musician. The album results from collaborative work between the University of North Texas, Denton, TX, the Azerbaijan-American Music Foundation, and the Vagif Mustafazade Foundation led by Afag Aliyeva, a staunch advocate for the celebrated Azerbaijani musicians.
Three disks included in the album contain radio-programs of Voice of America's legendary Jazz music critic, Willis Conover. These programs were aired under the title of "Jazz Hour." Azerbaijani pianist and composer Vagif Mustafazade and Conover met during the 1967 Tallinn International Jazz festival held in Estonia's capital city. Well-known for his melodic improvisations, lyric style, use of space, embellishments, Azerbaijani idioms, mugham modes, Mustafazade performances left a lasting impression on the American jazz music critic. Eleven years later, after his initial and final encounter with Vagif Mustafazade in Tallin, Conover recorded and broadcasted his first radio program dedicated to the eminent Azerbaijani jazz pianist's music. The Conover/Mustafazade "Jazz Hour" program aired on September 22, 1978, from the Voice of America's studio in Washington, D.C. In 1985, Conover produced two more programs, posthumously devoted to the Azerbaijani jazz pianist. They aired on November 28th and 29th, respectively.
This project will not be possible without help from Maristella Feustle, Music Special Collections Librarian at the Willis Music Library of the University of North Texas. Thanks to her invaluable assistance and efforts, the AAMF could get hold of the Conover/Mustafazadeh radio program files. We also extend our appreciation to Mary Gibson for the remarkable design work of the album. The CD was released by Recordsman Media Group in Moscow, Russia.