Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Stars and a cold wind reigned over Lake Sevan and the Noyland Resort, where owner Narine Aghasaryan had invited family and friends, including Maestro Aram Gharabekyan and guests from Moscow, to enjoy the music of jazz pianist Tigran Hamasyan and members of jazz band Time Report. Earlier, before sunset, several of us had gone to Hayravank, taking grapes to be blessed on this special Armenian holiday.

The party lasted well into the evening, as the musicians played, improvised, and invited guests to join in the singing. With Hamasyan’s piano, Hasmik sang several lullabies and “Im Khorodik Yar,” accompanied by contra bass,drums, saxophone, and piano. Although not part of the musicians’ jazz repertoire, the song was natural, as one of the jazz musicians said later, “these songs are part of us all, rehearsing isn’t necessary.” Later, standing outside and fighting the wind, the same musician said, “Folklore is above everything, including jazz. The best songs in our program are our improvisations of folk music...”

Late at night, we went back to Yerevan, first taking the detour leading through the village of Ljashen and using the old, decrepit road of the past, as the highway between the town of Sevan and Martuni/Gyavar is partly closed due to the rising waters of Sevan, reaching and covering the highway at certain places. Currently, trees and bushes are being cleaned from the area, with work planned to continue till 2010.

Our Week of Jazz, as I called our recent week of jazz activity, came to a close with a concert at the Open Music Fest featuring the same Time Report. Jazz music, and perhaps the fact that Time Report has quite a following in Yerevan, filled the amphitheater again, as it did for last week’s Tigran Hamasyan and Friends concert. Saxaphonist Armen Husnunts, the group’s leader, played folk improvisations and his own compositions, playing expertly and with ease, as did dudukist Vardan Grigoryan. Grigoryan’s new composition was a highlight, playing a 5/8 beat in in the mugham key of “shur,” his playing speed at times shocking the audience. Their encore number, the folk song “Kakavik,” had the crowd cheering and on their feet.

In the meantime, activity is picking up for the upcoming Shoghaken concert, with rehearsals and other various arrangements leading up to the Sept. 4 concert, the city now witness to Shoghaken banners, posters, and television advertising.

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