Alla Pugacheva (Алла Пугачева) – Mirror of the Soul (Зеркало Души) [1978]

capaThe ’60s and ’70s saw the beginning of modern Russian pop and rock music, it all started with the wave of VIA’s (vocal-instrumental ensemble), a specific sort of music bands performing radio-friendly pop, rock, and folk, composed by members of the Union of Composers, approved by censorship. This wave began with Pojuschie Gitary and Pesnyary, popular VIA bands also included Tcvety and Zemlyane.

That period also saw individual pop stars such as Iosif Kobzon, Sofia Rotaru, Alla Pugacheva, Valery Leontiev, Yuri Antonov, many of them remain popular and active to this day. They were the mainstream of Soviet music media, headliners of festivals such as Song of the Year, Sopot, and Golden Orpheus. The year 1977 saw the establishment of Moskovsky Komsomolets hit parade, Russia’s first music chart.

VIA Singing Guitar
VIA Singing Guitar

The term VIA represented a model under which the Soviet government was willing to permit domestic rock and pop music acts to develop. To be able to break through the state-owned Soviet media, a band needed to become an officially-recognized VIA. Each VIA had an artistic director who served as manager, producer, and also state-appointed censor. In some bands the artistic director was the band’s leading member and songwriter, while in others he played the role of an impresario.

Songs varied from pop ballads, dance disco and new wave to mainstream rock (although bands avoided the rock music label until the late ’70s, because rock was considered a bourgeois art and formally banned) (!). The typical VIA consisted of 6 to 10 band members, lead vocalists usually did not play an instrument, virtually every member of a VIA was a professional musician, with formal musical education.

VIA Charivni Guitar
VIA Charivni Guitar

The Soviet government had strict rules governing how members of a VIA were to behave on stage and conduct themselves in public. Performers were only allowed to wear suits, folks costumes, or military uniforms. Movements around the stage were discouraged and anything outside of the conservative norm, such as long hair, tattoos, leather jackets, or metallic accessories were strictly forbidden. Due to state censorship, the lyrics of VIAs were family-friendly, typical topics were universal emotions like love, joy, and nostalgia, or idealized vignettes from usual daily life.

VIA song recordings were done by Melodiya, the State-owned record company, and the concerts/performances were organized by professional associations such as Soyuzkontsert (Union Concerts), Moskontsert (Moscow Concerts), Lenkonsert (Leningrad Concerts), Roskontsert (Russian Concerts), along with regional groups.

Let’s go to our artist:

Alla Pugacheva & Kristina Orbakaitе
Alla Pugacheva & Kristina Orbakaitе

Alla Borisovna Pugacheva (April 15, 1949) started performing when she still was at junior school. In 1965, she composed and recorded The Robot, her first song for the national radio. After high school, Pugacheva continued education in Moscow State Music College, at the department of conducting and choir singing. Later, in 1981 she also got a degree in theatre directing at the (arrant) State Theatre Art College.

Alla Pugacheva started a professional singing career in the early ’70s, as a leading singer of VIA’s Funny Guys, but real recognition only came when she won the Grand Prix of the Golden Orpheus song contest with the song Harlequin in 1975.

Afterward, she went to work in what would be the turning point of its career: the musical film The Woman Who Sings, in 1977. In co-op with the band Rhythm, she played the leading lady, a pop singer who sacrifices her personal life for her career.

60's Alla Pugacheva
60’s Pugacheva

The soundtrack, which was co-written by her, included a myriad of pop songs, the Soviet audience, regarding the film as autobiographical, brought the OST to reach record audience of the year in 1979, as it was bought by 55 million people! (phew)

Though for many she grew to represent the government-pop culture that was forced upon the people, her popularity skyrocketed, and she released many albums throughout the decades. Her contributions to Russian music were recognized when she has bestowed the title of People’s Artist of the U.S.S.R. in 1991. She enjoys an iconic status across the former Soviet Union and has overshadowed a long time rival Sofia Rotaru as the most successful Soviet performer in terms of record sales and popularity. Her last album was released in 2008 and lately, Pugacheva is the main judge on Factor A, Russia’s version of the British X-Factor television series.

Let’s go to our album:

Primadonna
Primadonna

Mirror of the Soul was Alla Pugacheva’s first studio album, published in the Soviet Union in May 1978, as a double album, and later re-released in two parts. The Lp includes songs performed by her, recorded in 1975/1977 primarily composed by (master) Alexander Zatsepin. It became one of the most sold in the USSR in late 70’s early 80’s. By 1983, it had sold 7,753,500 copies, and with a general circulation exceeding 60 reissues, the album approached the terrific mark of 10 million copies!

A collection of singles, which had previously appeared in the film or in separate publications, it firmly stands as a kaleidoscope of genres, ranging from kitschy hits, funk-rock, orchestral ballads, prog synths, art pop, funny marches and much more from a devilishly talented singer and composer, prepare yourself for Alla’s realms.

The ‘IM’ highlights are Приезжай (Come) and Мы Не Любим Друг Друга (We Do Not Like Each Other)хорошая поездка!

Tracks Include:

A1 Бубен Шамана (Tambourine Shaman) / Centerline of The Skies OST

A2 Верю В Тебя (I Believe in You) / Basketball OST

A3 Сонет Шекспира (Shakespeare’s Sonnet)

B1 Приезжай (Come)

B2 Не Отрекаются Любя (Do Not Deny Loving)

B3 Песенка Про Меня (Song About Me)

B4 Женщина, Которая Поет (The Woman Who Sings)

C1 Все Могут Короли (Kings Can Do Everything)

C2 Куда Уходит Детство (Where Does Childhood?) / Fantasy Vesnuhina OST

C3 Волшебник-Недоучка (Wizard-Dropout) / Brave Chirac OST

C4 Полно Вокруг Мудрецов (Fully Sages Around) / Brave Chirac OST

D1 Мы Не Любим Друг Друга (We Do Not Like Each Other) / Cook & Singer OST

D2 Если И Долго Мучиться (If You Long To Suffer) / Cook & Singer OST

D3 До Свиданья, Лето (Goodbye, Summer) / Centerline of The Skies OST

D4 Любовь Одна Виновата (Love One to Blame) / Centerline of The Skies OST

D5 Найди Себе Друга (Find a Friend) / Fantasy Vesnuhina OST

Credits

Conductor: V. Terletsky (B2), A. Avilov (A2, A3, B1, B3, B4), V. Kleynot (A1, C1 to D5)

Ensemble: VIA B. Kleynota (A1, C1 to D5), Rhythm (A2, A3, B1, B3, B4)

Music: Alexander Zatsepin (A1, A2, B3, C2 to D5), Boris Gorbonos (A3, B1, B4), Boris Richkov (C1), Leonid Garin (B4), Mark Minkov (B2)

Lyrics: William Shakespeare (A3), Boris Gorbonos (B1), V. Tushnova (B2), Kaisyn Guliyev (B4), Leonid Derbenyov (A1, B3, C1 to D5), Onegin Gadzhikasimov (A2)

  • Arrangements: Alexander Zatsepin (except B2 and C1)
  • Photographer: Vyacheslav Maneshina
  • Supervised: A. Kachalina

Мелодия ‎– 33 С 60-09799-802

Vasilissa the Beautiful by Ivan Bilibin
Vasilissa the Beautiful by Ivan Bilibin

ВИА Севиль (VIA Sevil) – Севиль (Sevil) [1978]

vagif, azizaIn terms of ethnicity, culture, music, and religionAzerbaijan is much closer to Iran than Turkey, the country has the distinction of being the first Muslim-majority democratic and secular republic of the modern eraTheir music is based on folk traditions that reach back nearly a thousand years! We can list here e.g. the Mugham, Meykhana and Ashiq Art being one of the many musical traditions of Azerbaijan.

Mugham is usually a suite with poetry and instrumental interludes, it belongs to the modal system and may have derived from Persian tradition (Arabic Maqam). In contrast to the mugham traditions of Central Asian countries, Azeri mugham is more free-form and it is often compared to the improvised field of jazz. Its modes are associated not only with scales but with an orally transmitted collection of melodies and melodic fragments that performers use in the course of improvisation.

Nizami Ganjavi, 16th Century
Nizami Ganjavi, 16th Century

The dramatic unfolding in performance is associated with increasing intensity, rising pitches, in a form of poetic-musical communication amid performers/listeners.

In 2003, UNESCO recognized Mugham as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Another curiosity is the presence of the Balaban (national wind instrument) included on the Voyager Golden Record, attached to the Voyager spacecraft as representing (assorted) world music.

Meykhana is a kind of traditional Azeri distinctive folk unaccompanied song, usually performed by several people improvising on a particular subject. Ashiq combines poetry, storytelling, dance, and vocal and instrumental music into a traditional performance art that stands as a symbol of Azerbaijani culture. Based on a mystic troubadour or traveling bard who sings and plays the Saz, this tradition has its origins in the ancient Turkic peoples, surviving to the present day as an emblem of national identity and the guardian of Azerbaijani language, literature, and music. (!)

Azeri Dance
Azeri Dance

Let’s go to our music:

Jazz is extremely popular in Azerbaijan. National Jazz School of Azerbaijan was established with the birth of State Jazz Orchestra in 1938 performing both classic jazz and improvisations on traditional Mugham music. The life of Jazz did not last long as in the ’50s Soviet authorities banned its performance in the country as seditious western music, even music played on the saxophone was outlawed!

Therefore, a blend which came to be known as mugam jazz had originated in Baku.

In the late ’60s, the Azeri jazz music was boosted by such composers as Qara Qarayev and Rauf Hajiyev. It was the era of Rafiq Babayev’s jazz quartet, and later, that of Vagif Mustafazadeh, who pioneered the jazz-mugham variation.

Qara Qarayev
Qara Qarayev

Let’s go to our artist:

Vagif Mustafa-Zadeh (March 16, 1940 – December 17, 1979) is the founder of Azerbaijani jazz mugham movement that emerged in the late ’60s and ’70s in Baku.

Mustafazadeh was born in Old City, the historic core of the Baku, his name was chosen by the renowned poet Samed Vurgun, on the request of his mother, a piano teacher in local music school. The musical prohibitions during the ’40s and ’50s meant that the playing of jazz was banned in USSR countries, including Azerbaijan since there was no opportunity to get jazz records from anywhere, he listened to jazz pieces, learning from movies, the BBC radio and sang the also banned Meykhana.

In 1963, he graduated from Baku State Musical School named after Asaf Zeynally and a year later accepted to Azerbaijan State Conservatoire. He first achieved fame at the music school, giving concerts there, later on performing at the parties and evenings held at the universities and clubs, while performing at the clubs, he mainly played classical jazz, as well as some blues and (even) pop-dance music!

A Young Maestro
A Young Maestro

From the ’60s, prohibitions put on jazz music were gradually lifted and thus the late 1960s and ’70s became a time when Baku was a real center of inspired jazz.

In 1965, he quit the conservatoire and went to Tbilisi to lead the Orero musical ensemble, later he created the Qafqaz jazz trio at Georgian State Philharmonic.

In 1970 he formed the Leyli women’s quartet and followed the formula in 1971 with the (famous) Sevil vocal-instrumental ensemble. The group was founded on the basis of the State TV & Radio of Azerbaijan SSR, with soloists U. Hajibeyov, Dilara Dzhangirova, and Rena TalybovaUntil 1977 he guided tirelessly all of ’em!

Sevil, 70's
Sevil, 70’s

For its composition Waiting for Aziza, Mustafazadeh won first prize at the 8th International Competition of Jazz Composers in Monaco, 1978. He was also elected as laureate at Donetsk All-Soviet Union Jazz Festival in 1977 and elected as the best pianist in Tbilisi-78. Vagif Mustafazadeh is assigned Honored Artist of Azerbaijan SSR and after his death Azerbaijani State Prize. Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack shortly after a concert in Tashkent, and before the birthdays of his wife and daughter. Mustafazadeh was married twice, from the first marriage he had Lala, a classical pianist. His second marriage gave him (famous) Aziza Mustafa Zadeh.

More than three decades since Mustafazade’s passing, a larger number of his recordings are more widely available than at any time during his lifetime. (RIP)

Vagif Mustafa Zadeh
Vagif Mustafa Zadeh (Art)

Let’s go to our album:

This is one of those rare moments when everything goes right! I’m totally rapt about the music of this incredible artist, composer, arranger, and icon. Be blessed by the wonderful vocal harmonies, deep instrumental tracks, folk and even a bit of funk-rock. Today we won’t talk much, the music speaks for itself, despite the quality of the rip, the overall is fantastic, a long-lasting jazz album, appraise it and yaxşı səfər!

The ‘IM’ highlights are Beauty Black Eyebrows and Mugam.

Tracks Include:

A1 Дороги (Roads) / (V. Mustafazade – F. Qoca)

A2 Золотое колечко (Golden Ring) / (T. Quliyev – R. Rza)

A3 Сурьма для черных бровей (Beauty Black Eyebrows) / (V. Mustafazade – Xalq)

A4 От судьбы не уйдешь (No Escaping Fate) / (V. Mustafazade)

B1 Во дворце ширваншахов (In the Palace of the Shirvan Shahs) / (V. Mustafazade)

B2 Любимая (Favorite) / (R. Haciyev – O. Olibeyli)

B3 Мугам (Mugam) / (R. Mirisli)

B4 Сегодняшний день (This Day) / (V. Mustafazade)

Мелодия ‎– С60 10157

Baku by Night
Baku by Night

Konstantin Orbelyan Orchestra – Государственный Эстрадный Оркестр Армении (Armenian State Estrada Orchestra) [1978]

armenia, orchestraThe music of Armenia has its origins in the Armenian Highlands, where people traditionally sang popular folk songs, with a long musical tradition, that was primarily collected and developed by Komitas, a prominent priest and musicologist, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Armenian music has been presented internationally by composers Aram Khachaturian, Arno Babadjanian, duduk player Djivan Gasparyan, composer Ara Gevorgyan, pop singer Sirusho, amid others.

One of the oldest types of Armenian music is the Armenian chantthe most common kind of religious music in Armenia, many of these chants are ancient in origin, extending to pre-Christian times, while others are relatively modern, including several composed by Saint Mesrop Mashtots, (simply) Armenian alphabet’s inventor.

Prokofiev, Shostakovich & Aaram Khachaturian
Prokofiev, Shostakovich & Aaram Khachaturian

Under Soviet domination, Armenian folk music was taught in state-sponsored conservatoires, instruments played include qamancha (similar to a violin), kanun (dulcimer), dhol (hand drum), oud (lute), zurna, blul (ney), shvi and saz.

Other instruments are often used such as violin and clarinet, and the duduk is Armenia’s national instrument. Traditional Armenian folk music as Armenian church music is not based on the European tonal system but on a system of Tetrachords, the last note of one tetrachord also serves as the first note of the next, which makes Armenian folk music based on a theoretically endless scale. (!)

Traditional Ensemble
Traditional Ensemble

Let’s go to our artist:

Konstantin Aghaparoni Orbelyan (July 29, 1928 – April 24, 2014) an Armenian pianist, composer, head of the State Estrada Orchestra of Armenia. He was a People’s Artist of USSR (1979), Union of Soviet Composers Board member, Armenian Composer’s Union secretary since 1983, Vice-President of All-Soviet Musical Society of the USSR. Also the uncle of his namesake Constantine Orbelian, he has been acknowledged as a pianist and improviser since he was in his early teens.

At age fifteen, he was invited to perform with the Armenian State Pop Orchestra, formed in 1938 in Yerevan, and subsequently became its conductor. Under his able direction for thirty-six years, the Orchestra rose to become one of the most accomplished of its kind. As a result, it came to represent Soviet jazz over thirty countries in Eastern and Western Europe, Near EastAfrica, and Southeast Asia!

Konstantin Orbelyan
Konstantin Orbelyan

Graduating in composition and piano from Edward Mirzoyan’s class of composition at Yerevan’s Komitas Conservatory in 1963, Orbelian achieved early recognition for his String Quartet, winning first prize at the International Competition in Moscow, where the chairman of the Competition’s panel of judges was the composer Dmitri Shostakovich. Orbelian’s rising talent and success were noted with great appreciation by the doyen of Armenian music of the time: Aram Khachaturian.

Next followed the premiere of Orbelian’s first symphony in Moscow’s famous Tchaikovsky Hall by the USSR State Symphony Orchestra. For this symphony, Orbelian was awarded the title ‘Laureate of the All-Union Competition’. His ballet symphony Immortality was composed in 1975 and performed by the Yerevan Opera and Ballet Theater. This work, too, won first prize in an All-Union Competition devoted to the music stage. One of the Orchestra’s highlights was its American tour (1975) which included twenty-five concerts in major cities from coast to coast. (!)

Live
Live

In the beginning of the ’90s after the collapse of the Soviet Union working with the orchestra and creating music became very difficult. In 1992 Konstantin Orbelian moved to San Francisco, spending his last moments in Los Angeles. Ever versatile in the scope of his repertoire, he has written musical scores for many films and stage musicals, music for theater, not to mention his extensive work in jazz/pop music.

Recently, more than 8 cd’s have been released with compositions for symphonic orchestra, as well as jazz and pop music, with an endless number of awards placing the maestro in one of the highest recognition spots throughout the globe.

Let’s go to our album:

Thanks to the fantastic work of our friends from Soviet Groove, we’ve been able to rediscover the pinnacle of Jazz, Pop, and Soul from countries like Armenia, Estonia, Latvia, Georgia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, etc. At a time when the Iron Curtain still ruled the old world order, to the surprise of all, great composers/musicians had an exact idea of ​​what the Western world consumed!

Armenian (Bagratid Dynasty) Costume
Armenian (Bagratid Dynasty) Costume

I would go even further, groups like Gunesh, Firyuza, Yalla, Qaya, Sevil, among others, conceived one of the finest meetings between Jazz and Folk music. Our today album is just a first step of a fascinating and little-known aspect of these faraway cultures, mostly supported by legendary Melodiya (Μелодия) label, soon we’ll have an entry solely to this. By now, remain with a great Western-like big-band and վայելել!

The ‘IM’ highlights are Ты Моя Песня (A5) and Вокализ (B4).

Tracks Include:

A1 Сто Часов Счастья (One Hundred Hours of Happiness)

A2 Твои Следы (Your Footprints)

A3 Назан Яр (Nazan Yar) w/ Larisa Dolina

A4 Восход Солнца (Sunrise)

A5 Ты Моя Песня (You’re my Song) w/ Datevik Hovanesian

B1 Силуэт (Silhouette)

B2 Шум Берез (Noise Birches)

B3 Весенний Экспромт (Spring Impromptu)

B4 Вокализ (Vocalise) w/ Datevik Hovanesian

B5 Спасибо, Жизнь (Thanks for Life)

Мелодия ‎– С60–09733–34

Cafesjian Museum (breathtaking) Vista
Cafesjian Museum (breathtaking) Vista