For this year’s jazz festival in Baku (22 – 30 October 2016), the embassy was happy the programme boasted a Norwegian name. In cooperation with the embassy, Tord Gustavsen Quartet was brought to the festival, which also highlighted other internationally, recognized jazz musicians.
Last time the quartet played in Azerbaijan was in 2006, and it was based on the magnificent recollections of that time’s performance that the organizers invited the quartet back to this year’s festival. Thus, the expectations to the concert were high.
Following a pleasant reception at the main festival hub, Landmark Hotel, on the evening of 26 October, the embassy and the musicians went to the International Mugham Centre. Mugham is an experimental jazz form based on traditional Azerbaijani folk music, and one of the country’s greatest cultural export goods. The centre, which is shaped like the Azerbaijani traditional instrument tar, resonated with the ensemble’s experimentation with traditional Nordic folk music. The concert was opened by ambassador Bård Ivar Svendsen’s welcome speech held entirely in Azerbaijani – to great excitement of the local festival crowd.
Trond Gustavsen Quartet was a great success! The quartet was given standing ovations after the concert, and received exceptional reviews from the critics. The festival crowd named the concert one of the highlights of the festival – if not of the year. The ensemble truly stood apart with its lyrical and minimalistic compositions commonly attributed to the Scandinavian jazz scene.
With this concert we are certain that we made a great step in putting Norwegian jazz on the map in Baku, and we hope to see another Norwegian name on next year’s headliner.