Universal Jazz from the Middle East

Universal Jazz from the Middle East

Armenian Jazz is something I don’t look into everyday, but since I was invited out, I had to check it out. I had no idea of what to expect, so it is best to go in with an open mind and let the sound fill me up the way it naturally should. The venue was a nice theatre in a library next to the Fairview Mall. It is great for parking and taking the subway to a show.

The band came on late and the leader Ara Arakelyan was very apologetic to the audience. He apologized 3 time throughout the show. The audience did not seem fazed by this tardiness and was very supportive. The opening was quiet with a traditional guitar called an Oud. It then jumped into a very joyous and celebratory welcome for all the listeners. It was at this point you knew there was going to be something special to follow in this musical odyssey. Adding to that special something was a fine art painter, who painted 3 pieces of art throughout the performance. It just added a real touch of class to the evening.

The band went into a very funky exploration with that classic bass slap. Oddly enough, there was no Bass player, but a keyboardist doing the Bass parts. Man that guy was just “Slappin da Keys”! Occasionally you would hear this quiet wind instrument bridge the sounds together. It was a traditional instrument from Armenia called a Duduk. I was told by the person sitting next to me that this instrument was made from the wood of a peach tree. That’s where it got its peachy sound…

The keyboardist seemed to get his fair share of the spotlight. His repertoire of jazz riffs was quite extensive and if you let him off his leash, this guy got downright spacey. That was my personal favourite part of the show.

The Leader Ara played Sax and Clarinet with pride, passion and persistence. He exuded great feelings of excitement, and heartfelt joy. He would often play off of the keyboardist and challenge each other to reach new levels of euphoria. That moment came near the end when they played in perfect harmony together. It was a moment of pure innocence and that connection just had a stamp of perfection to it.

For the encore, I was wonderfully amazed to learn that Ara was a music teacher and that he had brought along his student to perform the finale with the band.  With about 15 young students hitting the stage, there were a lot of proud parents cheering them on. They deserve that ovation, because they did a great job and they looked like they were having a lot of fun doing it.

I could not post any photos because the photos became unusable. Blast Toronto is sorry for this technical glitch and will be back on track very soon.

Here is a video from my phone:

Armenian Jazz at Library theatre near Fairview Mall

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