12 Songs, 57 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Pianist Tigran Hamasyan won the Thelonious Monk competition in 2006, as well as the respect of such boundary-breaking jazzmen as Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and Brad Mehldau. Now the Armenian-born artist—who moved to L.A. with his family at age 16—returns with his fifth album. While 2011’s well-received A Fable alternated between solo piano songs and textured modern pieces, this one deftly mixes tangled beats, classical music romanticism, Eastern European folk, taunt boundary-free arrangements, and a rigorous set of piano chops. Another interesting wrinkle are the haunting chorale vocals from him and female singers; they punctuates “The Poet,” the operatic postmodernism of “Erishta,” and elsewhere. The gentle “Pagan Lullaby” lives up to its name, but it's the elegiac “Holy” that's particularly sublime. These are balanced by more visceral pieces; while “The Court Jester” starts and ends with harpsichord, it morphs with insistent, metal-like rhythms, and the intense “Pt. 2 Alternative” sounds like a sweaty rock epic. Suffice to say, Shadow Theater is one of the more broadminded jazz fusions of recent years.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Pianist Tigran Hamasyan won the Thelonious Monk competition in 2006, as well as the respect of such boundary-breaking jazzmen as Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and Brad Mehldau. Now the Armenian-born artist—who moved to L.A. with his family at age 16—returns with his fifth album. While 2011’s well-received A Fable alternated between solo piano songs and textured modern pieces, this one deftly mixes tangled beats, classical music romanticism, Eastern European folk, taunt boundary-free arrangements, and a rigorous set of piano chops. Another interesting wrinkle are the haunting chorale vocals from him and female singers; they punctuates “The Poet,” the operatic postmodernism of “Erishta,” and elsewhere. The gentle “Pagan Lullaby” lives up to its name, but it's the elegiac “Holy” that's particularly sublime. These are balanced by more visceral pieces; while “The Court Jester” starts and ends with harpsichord, it morphs with insistent, metal-like rhythms, and the intense “Pt. 2 Alternative” sounds like a sweaty rock epic. Suffice to say, Shadow Theater is one of the more broadminded jazz fusions of recent years.

TITLE TIME
4:19
4:41
3:48
4:15
2:42
4:30
5:49
3:22
5:06
6:42
5:25
6:46

About Tigran Hamasyan

Tigran Hamasyan was Armenian by descent -- he was born in 1987 in Gyumri, Armenia -- but had jazz in his soul. 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, in a collaborative date with Arve Henriksen, Bang, and Eivind Aarset. Hamasyan issued his second album for Nonesuch, An Ancient Observer, in March 2017, featuring ten new pieces from the pianist and composer. ~ Chris True

  • ORIGIN
    Gyumri, Armenia
  • BORN
    1987

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