Anar Yusufov was born in the musical family in Baku Azerbaijan, he had his first musical experience listening to the records of Ray Charles, BB king, John Lennon and various jazz performers from his parent’s huge vinyl collection. Instead of going to the kindergarten he was left at home with his mother, and that started his musical education. Since he was 4 years old he used to sit in front of his piano mixing various notes and sounds till they were getting into some sort of music. In the age of 6 his father bought him his first Casio baby keyboards, which somehow gave him a bigger space for experiments. In the evening his dad used to join him on piano or a 7 string acoustic guitar. At the age of 7 he graduated to the piano class of the Mstislav Rostropovich music school. And at the age of 8 started his singing career with the BaryBakh vocal jazz band. The band had a lot of performances in the biggest concert halls and music events of Azerbaijan, toured various countries and also gave Anar lots of studio recording experience. In 1999 the band started to work in collaboration with the Vagif Sadikhov Trio. Vagif was a great Azeri jazz pianist that lived in Russia, but was also well known in the Europe's jazz scene. So as Vagif was temporarily back to Baku, Anar was taking jazz piano lessons from him. Vagif gave Anar a huge harmony and performance knowledge base. At that time Anar also started to produce his own home made music with his new Yamaha PSR 520 and his computer. His musical preferences of that time was basically including electronic music styles like house, ambient, acid jazz and jungle. He also received a lot of inspiration from the artists like the Prodigy, Linda (famous Russian ambient and electronic music singer), Zodiac (an early 80's experimental electronic band from Latvia) and ERA. Although none of his works of that time went further than his room, a lot of ideas and melodies of that time was later used in songs of later years. Back in year 2000 Anar, started to go out to the local jazz clubs and occasionally was asked on stage to perform or join in. There he first met the young drummer Elvin Bashirov. Elvin was also hanging around and the two managed to form a band. But as Elvin Bashirov lived away in the town of Sumgaiit, they met from time to time and that idea never got any further until 2003. At that time a big International Jazz Festival took place in Baku, and Anar was working in the festival's team (dealing with international artists, and also making web designs). The festival woke the city up. There were lots of happenings all over the town and Anar was into all of them. He took master classes from the Italian jazz pianist Mike del Ferro and an Afro American Jazz and R'n'B Singer CoCo York and even played with them on their various performances, but the main thing was that the festival organisers gave Anar an opportunity to perform on the festival. So the things started going from that moment. During this time Anar was studying full time at the Conservatoria Music School. Anar and Elvin Bashirov needed a bass player. They played for a month or so with a strange old and smelly lad called Rovshan, but he was too passive so… Then Elvin Beybutov appeared. They met at the Baku Big Band's rehearsals… Anar was a keyboard player for the project, and Elvin Beybutov played Bass, so Elvin joined the trio and they formed the Orient Xpress Jazz band. Later they also started to play rock covers and in walked Rob on their first concert in O’Malley’s Irish Pub in Baku and said OY ! do you need a rythm guitarist … And so the band's story begins. ———–
Rob Cole is of Irish blood but grew up on the London Essex borders. Even as a child he had an ability to craft words into small poems and songs including stints in the local Irish Kids Group as a whistle player, being able to follow any tune, until he discovered The Stooges at Christmas 1969 as an unwanted present from Cousin Nigel was given to him. The power of this sound was taken to heart and gave him a great start in musical appreciation. The Velvet Underground’s disks were found in second hand record shop and the influence stayed. The day New Rose by The Damned came out on Stiff Records it was on Rob’s turntable and annoying the neighbours. Later that day, Rob’s 14th birthday money was put to good use buying a second hand Les Paul in Romford. Rob played, (as the irritating song by Brian Adams said), until his fingers bled & he could play both sides of the single. Took about 2 plays. On went the Ramones’ first album & that was it. 2 types of bar chord-who needs more? Rob formed the band Moral Courage with some local hooligans whose first practice was also the first gig was in the local pub in front of an annoyed clientele and they were thrown out after one song. Several gigs followed including one in front of a local grammar school audience where the police were called to separate the audience and gatecrashers. Moral Courage continued on & off with wildly varying line-ups for 8 years playing several times at various Stonehenge and Mushroom festivals and squat parties around London & the home counties and in the mean time, Rob also played in various Punk and Psychobilly bands as a stand in guitarist, such as Southend’s The Sinyx, Islington’s Zarkhov and New Cross’s Xener Diodes. In 1984 he met & married La Garce Dame D’Enfer & music was completely banned until he escaped to Azerbaijan in 1999. He went to a “bring an instrument” jam night in O’Malley’s Irish Pub and borrowed the pub manager’s guitar & through over-enthusiasm of playing, bled all over it, borrowed a Les Paul Custom from a customer & proceeded to break 4 strings and bleed over that too. Music was back in his life. Large. One lady customer there invited him to the next week’s Baku Irish Society party to raise funds for charity & by this time he had an acoustic guitar with him. An evening of singing, dancing & general mayhem ensued & Rob was invited by the flautist to come to Sunday Mass to play guitar in Church every week and tunes were back in Rob's life too. The flautist, Paula, was the music teacher at the local International School & taught him the names of the chords that he had been playing for years and even a few 7s and other complicated chords that you need 25 fingers for. From there Rob started to help teach guitar with Paula to a group of young children at the church. Paula soon left for another country leaving Rob to inflict lots of great old songs onto unsuspecting 8yearold Azeri children and one day a couple of years later walked back into O’Malley’s Irish Pub to see a small band called Orient Xpress & said “oy, mate-do you want a guitarist” and that was it. First practice was of course live on stage at the Jazz Theatre, second practice live on stage again at O’Malley’s Irish Pub. Hundreds of real gigs with Orient Xpress then followed. —————-
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