Saturday, August 15, 2009
The week of jazz continued with the “Tigran Hamasyan and Friends” concert at the Open Music Fest in Yerevan. Unlike the excellent concert of about two weeks ago, featuring opera singer Arax Davityan and Maestro Constantine Orbelyan, when there were a good number of vacant seats, the jazz concert was completely sold out, with people sitting on steps and standing along the amphitheater walls. Hamasyan was a crowd-pleaser, both with his jazz piano arrangements and playing with guests on trumpet, saxophone, contra bass, and drums. Also, an Arab oudist/singer from Tunisia performed, drawing huge applause with his mugham-style singing.
The concert’s finale featured Hasmik and Aleksan Harutyunyan singing “Done Yar/Jakhraki Vot” to Hamasyan’s arrangement, accompanied by Hamasyan’s band members and dudukist Vardan Grigoryan. The Harutyunyans sang in true folk style, mixing well with Hamasyan’s free-flowing piano playing. The joining of pure folk with jazz, new to the audience, and to Yerevan for that matter, promises a good future, judging from audience reaction and comments after the concert about how natural it all seemed.
A phone call the next day from folklorist Arusiak Sahakyan revealed that two pop singers, on occasion passing themselves off as folk singers, are part of the evening at the Fest dedicated to folk music. That evening, the two singers plan on singing a duet originally performed by Ruben Altunyan’s folk/ashoughagan group of the 1980s, a song originally discovered/recorded by Sahakyan. As it turns out, the singers announce only that the song is a “Ruben Altunyan” song, failing to mention Sahakyan’s name, as Sahakyan had said less-than-kind words in the past about the singers’ supposed folk style. A pity, such small-mindedness, as Sahakyan, who has done so much for folklore in Armenia, is a victim of a culture here in which people are punished for daring to speak up about/against falseness in presenting folk music in Armenia.