Folk-Jazz-Arabe on Film

Valencian British-Portuguese-Morrocan Soundtrack for Valencian Azerbaijan Documentary

 FOLK JAZZ ARABE II (4) copy 2

A Valencian-based British-Portuguese-Morrocan group has provided the soundtrack for a Valencian documentary about Spanish pilots in Azerbaijan during World War II.

Actually it’s not as complicated as it sounds. Long term Valencia resident and editor of ‘24/7 Valencia’, the English language Valencian ‘what’s on guide’, Will McCarthy, is the leader of an establishedmusical trio called ‘Folk Jazz Árabe’, formed by Londoner Will on guitar, multi-instrumentalist Abdel Louzari from Morrocco and trumpet player Nuno Alves from Portugal. The band have been playing live, recording  and gigging in Valencia since 2010 and have a number of albums under their belt. They have been recommended by El País and Mondo Sonoro.

The band plan to release a soundtrack album of the documentary this year, and ‘Sobre el Cielo de Azerbaiyan’ will be aired on national Spanish television on Televisión Española (the equivalent of BBC 1 and BBC 2) in 2013.


According to Will, a chance meeting in a bar put him in contact with Pablo Gil, the director of a documentary called ‘Sobre el cielo de Azerbaiyan’, which tells the story of defeated Spanish Republican pilots, who after the Spanish Civil War, emigrated to Russia, where they continued to fight against Hitler in the Soviet Air Force.  Having fought in the Civil War, the Spanish Republican pilots had the war experience that the Soviets were looking for and the Spanish were able to train the Soviet pilots in the record time of 6 months rather than the usual 2 years. There was a war on and time was of the essence.

Azerbaijan is a mostly Muslim country so the combination of Arabic and Spanish influences in Folk-Jazz-Arabe’s music fits well, according to the documentary producers, with the subject matter of the documentary.

The documentary was produced by the multi-functional and award-winning  Valencian company ‘Volya Producciones’ in collaboration with the Azerbaijan production company Salname, and received its premiere in the MUVIM museum, in front of a packed audience, in June 2013 in the presence of the Azerbaijan ambassador Altai Efendiev.muvim

The Spanish pilots helped defend the vital Baku oilfields, which, had he taken them, might have permitted Hitler to win the Second World War. Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, held 70% of the Soviet Union’s oil. Both the allies and the Nazis knew that control of Baku was fundamental to winning the war.

The film was largely the idea of Gyulnara Khanbabaeva, an Azerbaijan businesswoman resident in Valencia, President of the Spanish-Azerbaijan friendship association called ‘Elmira’.

At Kirovabad, now called ‘Ganza’, 180 Spanish pilots, mostly Catalans and Valencians, were trained as pilots to help halt the Nazi onslaught. Thirty of them would die in combat, and another 30 would be imprisoned by the Soviets when they asked to leave the Soviet Union.

This documentary is part of an increasingly strong relationship between Azerbaijan and Spain aimed at developing cultural, commercial and tourism links between the two countries.

 You can hear some of  the songs by Folk-Jazz-Arabe  featured as part of the  documentary ‘Sobre el Cielo de Azerbaiyan’  soundtrack : ‘Eivissa’, ‘Istanbul’, ‘Balansiya’, ‘She is Gone’ and ‘Arab Spring for free  on


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