I don’t have a rating for these CDs because if I included it in this list, It has a top rating from me. Honestly, each and every one of these CDs surprised me in ways I haven’t enjoyed in a long time. Even if you don’t get these as gifts for others, get them for yourself, they are all worth it, and each artist is 100% worthy of supporting by buying the album legally. Please do so.
Luys i Luso is a unique project for piano and voices by Tigran Hamasyan featuring Yerevan State Chamber Choir conducted by Harutyun Topikyan. Tigran’s new musical undertaking is the fresh and attractively youthful representation of the Armenian sacred music of the 5th to 20th centuries from his perspective and will be released by the internationally acclaimed record label ECM in September 2015. The repertoire ranges from enthralling hymns and sharakans (genre of Armenian chants) to breathtaking cantos by Grigor Narekatsi, Nerses Shnorhali, Mesrop Mashtots, Mkhitar Ayrivanetsi, Grigor Pahlavuni, Komitas, Makar Yekmalyan, etc., arranged for piano and voices by the pianist himself. All the compositions apart from “Patriarchal Ode” (Հայրապետական մաղթերգ) are written in grabar, also known as Classical Armenian – the oldest attested form of the Armenian Language.
It is very difficult today to surprise anybody performing jazz by playing, seemingly not jazz instruments as French horn, oboe or violoncello. But, the native of Armenia, Yerevan Concervatory graduate, Berkley College of Music trainee, cello and bass player, Artyom Manukyan tried to surprise fans of the modern jazz with his debut album ‘CITIZEN.’ As a student of the conservatory he became a member of various Jazz groups, then the ‘KATUNER’ ethno-Jazz-group bass player and finally a member of the most popular and successful Armenian Navy Band, founded and led by outstanding percussionist, composer and singer, Grammy award winner Arto Tuncboyaciyan. Toured nearly all over the world with these bands, Artyom Manukyan settled down in Los Angeles, decided that here he could realize his musical ideas.
Charentsavan was produced, in part, to introduce the youngest of the next generation of duduk masters to the world. In creating the programming for this album, the goal was to have a consistent sound while adhering to a code of presenting diverse composers to global audiences. From Grigor Narekatsi to Sayat Nova to Ara Dinkjian, Charentsavan is aimed at showcasing the richness of compositions from in and around historic, present day Republic, and Diasporan Armenia.
Recorded in less than three weeks in Yerevan, Armenia during the summer of 2015, this album clocks in at an intentionally efficient 29 minutes. I didn’t feel that I, or the average music listener could listen, retain, and ultimately appreciate a traditional and standard 60 minute dam (second drone duduk) and duduk album. So, we cut the time in half and added instruments such as the harp, acoustic guitar, udu drum, and a few traditional Armenian instruments to change things up a bit. This is not to take away from the sonic beauty of the instrument, rather, to acknowledge modern listening habits. We tried to create an album with a theme, rather than a collection of unrelated pieces.
Originally appearing on Night Ark’s second album entitled Moments (RCA/Novus, 1988), Ara Dinkjian’s song Offering initially received little fanfare in the North American market when it was first released. Gradually, over time, the catchy ethno-jazz tune soon made it’s way to Greece, Turkey, and Israel, where it was set to lyrics and turned into folk-pop songs- in some cases unbeknownst to Dinkjian himself. A re-release of the original track was made on the Traditional Crossroads label in 2000 (Treasures) with various iterations having appeared performed by Dinkjian himself on his Armenian in America (Krikor Music, 2006) and 1915-2015/Truth & Hope (Kalan 2015) albums. In short, Offering is considered an instant classic within the international folk music genre.