12 Songs, 58 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The Armenian-born American pianist and composer Tigran Hamasyan—winner of the 2006 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition—writes and plays music that dazzles the listener with its high-octane virtuosity. On Mockroot, Hamasyan, electric bassist Sam Minaie, and drummer Arthur Huatek whiplash through material that features odd-meter rhythms and sudden shifts. The music is often marked by traditional Armenian elements, as well as dramatic flashes of prog rock and fusion. Quieter cuts, such as “The Roads That Bring Me Closer to You” and “The Apple Orchard in Saghmosavanq,” serve as a nice contrast to the blazing speed and fury.

Mastered for iTunes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The Armenian-born American pianist and composer Tigran Hamasyan—winner of the 2006 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition—writes and plays music that dazzles the listener with its high-octane virtuosity. On Mockroot, Hamasyan, electric bassist Sam Minaie, and drummer Arthur Huatek whiplash through material that features odd-meter rhythms and sudden shifts. The music is often marked by traditional Armenian elements, as well as dramatic flashes of prog rock and fusion. Quieter cuts, such as “The Roads That Bring Me Closer to You” and “The Apple Orchard in Saghmosavanq,” serve as a nice contrast to the blazing speed and fury.

Mastered for iTunes
TITLE TIME

Ratings and Reviews

4.9 out of 5

22 Ratings

22 Ratings

Action packed!

Erzom

The album is full of action and energy!

Absolutely Killing

Cole Riddle

Nothing less of what I expected. Filled with mind blowing rhythm and harmony that will simply rip your brain to pieces and force you to spend hours on end attempting to figure out what he is playing. Masterpiece.

Great album...

musikmusikmusik

This is top notch music by a group of top notch musicians, it really doesn't get much better than this. The complexity of the music combined with the truly savant level of ability... Tigran Hamasyan never ceases to deliver great music. But... there are 3 things about this album that I believe make it a little weak. This is certainly nit picky and sort of holding Tigran to a different standard than... well anybody really, but they are things that ultimately left me dissapointed as someone who has listened to his music since 2006. First, I found it interesting how for the last 10 years his composition style has changed only slightly, making every album more of the same. The predictability of his compositions leaves very little to be interested in. This album makes that predictability more apparent than ever. Granted, his compositions are unbelievably amazing, things I could only dream of writing, but predictable nonetheless. Next, is the drummer on this session. He certainly has a big role to fill when comparing his performance to that of Nate Wood. Nate Wood and Tigran Hamasyan go together like bread and butter. I found this drummer to be much more sparse, and his selection of cymbals far too washy. The jagged and pointed compositions from Tigran don't benefit from washy, muddy cymbols, in my opinion. It ultimately takes away from the energy and makes the group sound less tight. And this could potentially have more to do with my final issue with the album, and that is the recording and mastering. If I had to guess, this album was recorded by someone much less experienced. Tigran's previous albums have much more attention to detail in that respect, whereas this one sounds almost amateurish. The balance of the musicians is very strange with far too much enphasis placed on the piano, and an overall unrealistic sound space, especially with the reverb. The sound is very flat and unflattering to the incredible dynamics that each musician is putting into their playing. I hate to sound so harsh about who is ultimately one of my favorite musicians alive, but I think it's that level of fanboy-ism that is making me far more critical than I usually would be about an album that, in all respects, is fantastic when compared to others, but not so great when compared to his own body of work.

About Tigran Hamasyan

Tigran Hamasyan was Armenian by descent -- he was born in 1987 in Gyumri, Armenia -- but raised in Los Anegeles where he first encountered pop and jazz. Although he was first moved as a child by the rock sounds of the giants of the '60s and '70s -- Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, the Beatles -- Hamasyan would focus his sights musically on jazz, becoming an adept piano player in the style as a youngster. Moved by the sounds of Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Art Tatum, and Miles Davis, Hamasyan found himself part of the festivities at the Yerevan Second International Jazz Festival in 2000. He would go on just a few years later to win a number of contests, one of which was at the 2003 Montreux Jazz Festival. With his band Aratta Rebirth, he issued Red Hail in 2009. Two years later he issued A Fable (credited simply as Tigran), his debut solo date for Verve, featuring the artist on piano and vocals, and followed it with 2013's acclaimed Shadow Theater, which featured a band, strings, voices, and electronics by Jan Bang. That year he won the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Contemporary Music. Hamasyan issued Mockroot, an eclectic set that offered original electro-acoustic compositions and a traditional song, for Nonesuch in 2015. That same year his ECM debut, Luys i Luso, comprising Armenian sacred music from the fifth to the 20th century arranged for piano and voices, was issued. It was recorded a year earlier in the company of the Yerevan State Chamber Choir conducted by Harutyun Topikyan. He returned to electro-acoustic jazz with 2016's double-length Atmospheres on ECM, for a collaborative date with Arve Henriksen, Bang, and Eivind Aarset.

Hamasyan issued his second album for Nonesuch, An Ancient Observer, in March 2017 after returning to live in Armenia; it's a collection of new compositions written over the course of four years -- two based on Armenian melodies. Some pieces were written out while others, though composed, offered ample space for improvisation. Many include wordless vocals layered into the mix. As is his trademark, musical influences proved myriad, ranging from classical Baroque dance and Armenian folk music to J-Dilla-esque hip-hop grooves adapted to piano to tracks with pedals connected to a synthesizer. He issued five additional tracks from those sessions in early 2018 as the EP For Gyumri, titled for his hometown, prefaced by the video single "Rays of Light." ~ Chris True

HOMETOWN
Gyumri, Armenia
GENRE
Jazz
BORN
1987

Songs

Albums

Listeners Also Bought