Jazz Project: Armenia Meets Cuba

Arakelian and the band

Arsho Zakarian

We read this captivating line on FB. We are all intrigued. The date is Friday February 15th, sponsored by Hamazkayin Klatsor chapter. The venue is Hamazkayin Theatre.

Jazz is explained as musical technique and style in which two or more melodic lines are in a fair juxtaposition. In other words, jazz gives the musician a special freedom to interpret the music differently. In the intro of the program we read “Jazz often combines musical elements from various cultures, genres and time periods to create rich, new and diverse sounds.”

The theatre is a full house. Jazz lovers from all walks of life are present. The band is composed of both young and seasoned musicians. The heart of the band is the saxophone player Ara Arakelyan; Madiana Torosyan on Kanun, Armen Matosyan on duduk and pku, Joaquin Nunez Hidalgo on drums, Dyalis Machado on percussion, Yoser Rodrigues on bass and the world renowned Hilario Duran on piano join Ara Arakelyan creating a fascinating journey.

Gomidas’ Gakavik, Qele-qele, Zarznga, Vagharshabad, Mut Amber creations along with Sayat Nova’s Ashkharhums imn dun ees, Artem Ayvazian’s Araks are echoed with the powerful and daring tunes of Cuba.

We are introduced to Cuban Jazz music with Hilario Duran’s Havana City, Descara en la egren, Joaquin Nunez Hidalgo’s Steel and Firo, Ernesto Lecuona’s Danza Lucumi and Moises Simons’ El manisero compositions. The program ends with the Armenian traditional Nazan im yare music. Wow! we are all tapping, clapping and cheering with every composition.

Ara Arakelyan is a talented and ambitious young musician.This Yerevan born musical powerhouse joined with Armen Matosyan’s passionate duduk and Mariana Torosyan’s unique canon strings to bring forth soulful Armenian music.

Sandor Schwisberg’s classical and jazz background on keyboard, Hilario Luis Duran’s masterful Afro Cuban Jazz on piano, Dyalis Machado’s lively percussion, Joaquin Nunez’ passionate drums brought together the Armenian Cuban Jazz music fusion program. These talented musicians gave the audience a unique and memorable night.

This exciting musical experience was accompanied by artist Tamara Harutunyan, who with her daring and expressive brush and vibrant colours created two unique pieces, inspired by the musical tempo.