Aziza Mustafa Zadeh : The Princess of Jazz – tomorrow in The Cuban Bridge on the radio @ WWPV

Essentials taken from Wikipedia and from the Baku International Jazz Fest headlines in Azarbaijan, Aziza’s birthpace

Edition, adaptation and comment by Toni Basanta from Fairfax, Vermont, EUA  

Short Bio: Aziza Mustafa Zadeh, also known as “The Princess of Jazz”, “Die Prinzessin des Jazz”, or as “Jazziza”, is an Azerbaijani singer, pianist, and composer who plays a fusion of Jazz and Mugam with Classical and Avant-Garde influences.

Born: December 19, 1969 in Baku, Azerbaijan

Aziza Mustafa Zadeh  (Azerbaijani: Əzizə Mustafazadə; born December 19, 1969), also known as “The Princess of Jazz”, “Die Prinzessin des Jazz”, or as “Jazziza”, is an Azerbaijani singer, pianist, and composer who plays a fusion of jazz and mugam (a traditional improvisational style of Azerbaijan) with classical and avant-garde influences. Reviewers have sometimes said,  that her style also shows some influence from Keith Jarrett,

But I would say more. AZIZA has the primary care influence of her parents, and later due to mesmerizing classical training,  the acquisition of all the beauty of the Baroque music via J. S. Bach, the Romantic players like Chopin, and the Jazz players who have devoted their lives to the Acoustic Piano like Polish Adam Makovich.

She currently resides in  Mainz, Germany, with her mother, Eliza Mustafa Zadeh  is also her manager.

Her two favorite leisure activities, she says, are painting and sleeping. She is a vegetarian, believes in God, though she does not consider herself as belonging to any religion.


Aziza was born in Baku to musical parents Vagif and Elza Mustafa Zadeh (née Bandzeladze).

VAGIF  was a pianist and composer, famous for creating the Mugam Jazz Fusion in which his daughter now plays. Elza is a classically trained singer from Georgia.

Aziza’s parents first noticed their daughter’s sensitivity to music when she was eight months old. Aziza recalls the story  as her mother tells it :

Once, my father was improvising at the piano playing in the Mugam mode known as ‘Shur’, which creates a mood that evokes very deep, sad emotions. As my father was playing, I started to cry. Everyone wondered what was happening to me. Why was I crying ? And then, my  mother realized the correlation between my feelings and the music.

‘Vagif, please, she told my father, change the scale. Go to Rast. Play Rast.

And he did. Now ‘Rast’ is characterized by its joyfulness and optimism. And sure enough, with tears still running down my cheeks, I started to make dance-like movements. And Mom pointed out, ‘Look, look what she’s doing ! Change back to Shur!  And when he did, I started crying again louder than before. At least, that’s what they tell me. Back to Rast, and I began dancing again.

Aziza enjoyed all forms of art, especially dancing, painting and singing. At the age of three, she made her stage debut with her father, improvising vocals. She began studying classical piano at an early age, showing special interest in the works of famous composers Johann Sebastian Bach and Frédéric Chopin. Soon thereafter, she showed a growing talent for improvisation.

On December 16, 1979, Aziza’s father died of a severe heart attack in Tashkent at the age of 39. In order to help her daughter cope with this blow, Aziza’s mother gave up her career as a singer to help nurture her daughter’s own musical talents.


In 1988, at the age of 18, Aziza’s Mugam-influenced style helped her win third place together with American Matt Cooper in the Thelonious Monk  Piano Competition in Washington, D.C..  It was around this time that she moved to Germany with her mother.

Aziza released her debut album, Aziza Mustafa Zadeh in 1991. Her second album, Always,  won her the Phono Academy Prize, a prestigious German music award, and the Echo Prize from Sony. She has since performed in many countries with many Jazz and traditional luminaries and released several more albums, the most recent being Contrasts II  released in 2007.

Baku Jazz Festival 2007

Aziza visited Azerbaijan in June 2007 for the Baku Jazz Festival, starring in her own concert at the Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater and headlining the end-of-festival concert at the open-air Green Theater.  There she presented a remarkable rendition of  her album “Shamans”, involving harmonising with her own echo.

Discography up to 2007


My comment

It was in 1997, in Havana, Cuba when I first heard of brilliant pianist-composer  AZIZA MUSTAFA ZADEH, thanks to German flutist ISABEL BODENSEH who was studying, performing and recording with Cuban Charanga Orchestra “La Sublime” at the time.

We began to hang out and exchange different kinds of Music and once she told me :

“Toni,  you might want to listen to this pianist and include her in your radio show playlist”.

Fortunately, I visited the Stuttgart Jazz Open Fest in 1999 and with my Road Manager Ziggy Koegel,  I could learn more about AZIZA’s Music, as he gifted me some of her albums.

Later on, another great German friend Costa Matthei – a Consultant and University Professor from Berlin, who visited me twice a year in Havana, provided me with other albums of “The Princess of Jazz”.

The rest is history, and now I have some of AZIZA MUSTAFA ZADEH’s  albums in my Jazz Collection.  As we are in APRIL : JAZZ APPRECIATION MONTH,  this coming SUNDAY April 23, 2017, which is tomorrow,  we will celebrate JAZZ with a constellation of EUROPEAN JAZZ PLAYERS, and for sure, AZIZA will shine among them.

Toni Basanta

DJ Host of The Cuban Bridge on the radio and on television


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