Country of origin: Azerbaijan
Years active: 1961-


The short name 'Гая' (Qaya), translated from Azerbaijani, means 'cliff'. Part of the originally created quartet included graduates of the Baku Conservatory Teymur Mirzoev, Arif Hajief, Rauf Babaev, and Lev Elisavetsky. The musicians entered the professional scene in 1961. The guys became soloists of the Azerbaijani State Variety Orchestra radio and television under the leadership of Rauf Hajiev and toured the country many times. On their first tour, at a music festival in Leningrad, they got acquainted with the musicians of the newly created vocal ensemble 'Орэра' and stayed there in the group, having worked with their orchestra for around two years, and returning to Baku. The 'four' were clearly similar to the English group 'Blitz', but their sound was very different—some variety-jazz sound, learned from American vocal quartets 'Modern men', 'Хилое Хайлос'...

The meeting with Baku composer Murad Kajlaev changed the guys' life. They proposed to him to organize his ensemble in Dagestan. So, on the basis of a quartet of Baku vocalists, an instrumental group appeared, the leader of which becoming well-known pianist Rauf Babaev. Literally in a year the authorities demamded they return to Baku. At home, they became state ensemble, and together with well-known artist Rashid Beybutov and Muslim Magomaev, became the pride of the republic and stars in the whole Union and in the international scope.

The first widespread recognition of the 'Гая' collective was achieved at the time of the first All-Union competition for the best performance of a Soviet song in Moscow (1966). In their demonstrative program, quartet 'Гая' performed songs by Soviet composer Isaac Dunaevsky, Alexander Novikov, and Matvey Blanter. But for an 'encore', the soloists of the Baku collective brilliantly performed the best of American jazz. Their performance as winners was noted by the chairman of the jury, wonderful Soviet singer and film actor Leonid Osipovich Utesov. He said that the guys could be an adornment of any variety show.

Then the members of 'Гая' worked a lot in the composition of the variety-jazz orchestra of Leonid Utesov. The quartet's repertoire was varied. These are songs of the world's people, Azerbaijani folk songs, civil sounding songs and new variety songs, acapella vocals. In 1967, quartet 'Гая', as part of a cultural delegation, visited the International Festival of Youth and Students in Sofia. Ensemble 'Гая' successfully toured abroad: in Canada, Turkey, Algeria, Poland, the GDR, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Cuba. At the international song contest 'Золотой Орфей' in Bulgaria, the Baku singers were awarded the laureate rank, and the jury, consisting of the Yugoslav composer Simic, gave them the special prize 'За лучшее испонительское вокальное мастерство'. At the worldwide estrada program 'Dresden-69', quartet 'Гая' received two Grand PRix at once as the best musical ensemble. Television programs of many countries aired film concerts with the participation of 'Гая'. From every foreign trip, with other musical collectives, they brought well-liked songs and included them in their repertoire.

Creative work was carried out in active cooperation with the Leonid Utesova orchestra, instrumental ensemble 'Мелодия', working at All-Union record firm 'Мелодия', the Ludikovsky orchestra, and alsy with the Oleg Lundstrem orchestra. The five million record copies testified to the popularity of the 'Гая' ensemble. On Soviet television, the ensemble is shown in almost all television musical and entertainment programs: 'Голубой огонёк' in Shabolovka, 'Артлото', 'Музыкальный кноск' and many others. I remember this fragment, where the artists 'Гая' were pilots and performed 'Chattanooga Choo-Choo'. In 1970, the ensemble was awarded the Azerbaijan Komsomol Prize. The leader of VIA 'Песняры', Vladimir Mulyavin, often brought their music to rehersals of 'Гая' and said: 'This is what you need to learn to sing!'. In 1972, 'Гая', 'Орэра', and 'Песняры' took part in a large music program at the 'Динамо' stadium. It was then probably decided to make the ensemble a vocal-instrumental one, and in 1973 this was realized, because the best instrumental musicians in the country came to its composition.

The first concert program 'Песни народов Мира', which was done by VIA 'Гая', showed the skill of the members of the now-large collective, and they straightaway recorded an LP. But the program 'Огни большого города' (1974) was destined to gain great success in Moscow. It was a big show with two parts, there were a lot of songs, for the first time they performed on the open stage of the State Central Concert Hall 'Россия'. The gorgeous decorations and brilliant performances"—five choruses and three arias from the world rock-opera 'Jesus Christ Superstar'—made the show unique, impressive. The program 'Огни большого города' passed with great success and the firm 'Мелодия' released an LP with various numbers from the program. A performance, that could be called the first show of a large form was staged by Mark Rozovsky and Julius Guzman, but the magnificent costumes were made by fashion designer Viacheslav Zaitsev. The writer, comedian Leon Izmailov, helped with the script. Several parody elements are well remembered in the block 'Мой адрес - Советский Союз', where 'Гая' portrayed Soviet stars and their famous songs.

At this time, vocal group VIA 'Гая' had become a sextet. The group included two soloists—Galina Baranova and Talima Agamieva. The aria of Magdalena was performed by Galina Baranova, and the aria of Jesus was performed by Rauf Babaev. The ensemble took part in the cultural program 'Olympics-80', in 1978 made a big tour of African countries, in 1982 went on tour in the USA—they performed there already without Lev Elisavetsky, who moved with his family to the USA before the tour, and later move to Israel Mirzoev. The quartet was transformed into the Azerbaijan State Vocal-Instrumental Ensemble 'Гая'.

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Гая has many releases. Please check a website like Discogs for more information.