Armenian Jazz with Arto and Friends Pays Tribute to Paul Motian in New York
A glass bottle and a kitchen pot aren’t typical musical instruments, but the AGBU concert, Armenian Jazz with Arto and Friends, wasn’t your typical event. The evening, organized by the AGBU Performing Arts Department (PAD) and sponsored by the AGBU New York Special Events Committee (NYSEC), brought together Grammy award-winning artist Arto Tunçboyaciyan and rising young talents. Using household items and more conventional instruments, they created a sold-out show in downtown New York.
The event, held on Sunday, October 27, 2013, was the first of its kind to put Arto, a world-renowned percussionist, composer, and vocalist, on stage with up-and-coming local musicians. They included Noah Garabedian (bass); Michael Sarian (trumpet); Lucy Yeghiazaryan (violin, vocals); and Tatev Yeghiazaryan (keyboards, piano, vocals). Before an audience of nearly 300 guests, the ensemble paid tribute to the late Paul Motian, the celebrated Armenian drummer, bandleader and composer.
Regarded as one of the most important jazz musicians of the past five decades, Motian’s presence was felt throughout the night. In between sets, Arto, who created the genre avant‐garde folk music and performed with Motian, stated, “what I experienced with Paul Motian and his music was that he added his own cultural seasoning. This is the meaning of avant-garde folk music, that you extend your imagination with your life experiences without losing your cultural seasoning.” Praising the concert’s success, he continued, “I think this event was a great step for our culture. Hopefully we can continue… to offer a new form of avant-garde folk music.”
The artists made their own contributions to the genre, performing pieces that coupled contemporary jazz with more traditional Armenian sounds. Lucy Yeghiazaryan’s rendition of Motian’s “Owl of Cranston” was followed by her untitled piece based on Armenian folk melodies. Later, Tatev presented a jazz interpretation of “Nazani” by Sayat Nova. Tatev, who works with her septet Soundsketch, as well as the ensemble the YYsisters, remarked, “I am thankful for my Armenian heritage and love of classical, jazz, and other styles, which shape the music I write. It’s always interesting to see what happens when you combine traditional melodies with non-traditional instruments, and playing alongside Arto was wonderful and spontaneous.”
For AGBU Performing Arts Department (PAD) Director Hayk Arsenyan, the evening was part of a broader effort to bring Armenian music to a larger audience. “Providing opportunities for established and emerging artists of different generations to collaborate is central to the AGBU Performing Arts Department’s work,” he commented. “As we connect Armenian artists around the globe with their culture, we are also pleased to help carve out a space for Armenian jazz here in New York City, the jazz capital of the world.”
Armenian Jazz with Arto and Friends was one of many events organized by AGBU across the U.S. and abroad. On Saturday, December, 7, 2013, the AGBU New York Special Events Committee will present its 6th Annual Performing Artists in Concert at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. The event will commemorate the 25th anniversary of the 1988 earthquake that devastated Armenia. Tickets can now be purchased by calling AGBU at (212) 319-6383, the Carnegie Hall Box Office at (212) 247-7800, or by visiting www.carnegiehall.org.
The Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) is the world’s largest non-profit
organization devoted to upholding the Armenian heritage through educational,
cultural and humanitarian programs. Each year, AGBU is committed to making
a difference in the lives of 500,000 people across Armenia, Artsakh and the
Armenian diaspora. Since 1906, AGBU has remained true to one overarching
goal: to create a foundation for the prosperity of all Armenians.
To learn more visit www.agbu.org.