Maia Baratashvili, and all the jazz . . .
13 September, 2012
Maia Baratashvili, and all the jazz . . .

There is a girl in town who is so much into jazz that I could not but interview her on the subject, having made up my mind just five minutes into our accidental conversation. ‘When Maia’s diaphragm expands, the world shrinks’, commented once a British music reviewer.

Maia Baratashvili has shown talent for music at an early age of six, and luckily, her wonderful mother was around to pick it up in good time. Wouldn’t the following words be enough for

all of us to fathom her musical aptitude and capacity – ‘Maia has a quality that is rare among today’s female jazz vocalists: she can blast an audience out of the exalts with the raw power, however she combines this with an ingenuity that conjures fresh melodies out of any tune’ – this is an excerpt from foreign press which is commenting on her vocalistic presence in general. I cannot really call this one an interview in its classic meaning – this was an exquisite encounter between a respondent and a correspondent which has impressed me indelibly and forever. Hopefully, her too! Incidentally, Maia speaks absolutely beautiful English; hence I got a huge kick out of it. Let’s have a ball together now!

NBR – Why jazz?

MB – In the first place, I define myself not as a jazz singer but as a contemporary American music performer. Having discovered jazz at the age of 15, I felt that jazz was as deep and enticing as classical music itself.  In a word, the main reason of my having been carried away by jazz is the energy and groove that the jazz music emanates. I probably had needed that . . .

NBR – How big is jazz in Georgia?

MB – Not very! In fact, jazz is good only for a certain targeted audience in this country. As anywhere else, I would say . . .

NBR – Why do you think jazz is not very popular in Georgia?

MB – Georgian is a unique culture as you might agree. Jazz is also unique. Therefore, two unique cultures, in my very personal opinion, could not stick together very comfortably on an equal level.

NBR – Speaking very generally, what might be the determiners of musical tastes of a certain epoch?

MB – In most general terms – the historical background, the actual cultural and social environment the nation is compelled to be living in, and the pronounced influence of international media.

NBR – Can you give some names — both in theory and in practice — that make jazz weather in this country?

MB – The first name which inevitably comes to my mind is our wonderful ‘Tatuz’ – Tamaz Kurashvili for his very meaningful contribution to keeping up tastes for jazz music in Georgia. I was truly privileged to have worked with him. Here also goes George Rakviashvili – the musician with an exquisite taste who undoubtedly has a virtuoso technique of performance. In terms of jazz history, Zura Karumidze and Kakha Tolordava might be the best communicators of jazz message in Georgia, and beyond.

NBR – Have you tried yourself in the Georgian pop? If yes, how was it?

MB – Yes, I have indeed! I am proud to tell you that I have recorded several Georgian pop songs, and all of them have become hits. One of them happens to be a prize winner.

NBR – What about the Russian lyrical music? I mean the ‘Russki Romance’ (the Russian ballade) . . .

MB – I have to confess that I naturally carry the passion for the Russian Ballade in my heart of hearts right from the moment I had heard my mom sing it.  Later, my teacher and accompanist Sergo Natsvaladze has made a real issue for me out of it – we went for it together and achieved quite a success.

NBR – Have you ever tried to write music?

MB – Only twice in my life, and I thought it was not really my actual cup of tea.

NBR – How do you feel about Georgian folk music?

MB – I highly value it. Frankly, I have a very productive cooperation with SHIN – the Georgian folk group, based in Germany, but popularizing worldwide both folk and contemporary Georgian music. Our project was presented successfully in several European countries.

NBR – How do you take rock, metal and rap?

MB – I take it easy! But I genuinely appreciate rock.

NBR – What is your biggest achievement in jazz?

MB – The Monte Carlo International jazz Award of 2007.

NBR – Give me your two favorite names in the world of jazz – one male and one female?

MB – Mel Torme and Sarah Voughan. Definitely!

NBR – What makes them your favorites?

MB – Mel Torme for his immense improvising ability, and Sarah Voughan for her musical sophistication.

NBR – Have you ever done anything in life except jazz banding and singing?

MB – I sure have, sir! I was educated as an architect, I have worked as a real estate agent, I have functioned as a translator and have probed myself in agriculture, food import and media. Will you believe me that I have carried on my fragile shoulders the logs of Alnus Glutinosa (the beech tree)? LOL! That has happened in no less than United States of America during my internship.

NBR – Could you have made serious money by means of jazz had you tried real hard?

MB – Who says I did not? This is certainly one of my little jokes.

NBR – What is your dream achievement in jazz?

MB – I wish to receive a life-size opportunity of singing with the living greatest of jazz.

NBR– Have you ever thought of teaching jazz singing here in Tbilisi?

MB – Not so far . . .

NBR – What else, except jazz, has swiped your imagination and has made use of your talent?

MB – Graphic drawing and fashion design.

NBR – Wow! Do you by any chance play any musical instrument?

MB – I have done seven years of piano class at the musical college.

NBR – I hate to ask blunt personal questions in the interviews, but . . .

MB – I know what you mean, but I am terribly conservative in my personal beliefs. I usually never create unbidden waves around myself, if you understand what I mean.

NBR – I don’t know how to thank you.

MB – Thanks are positively all mine.

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