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Edward Manukyan: Jazz From Armenia

By Published: February 21, 2005

AAJ: Are there any compositional techniques in jazz?

EM: Yes, but they aren't well organized as they are in classical music. Jazz composers usually improvise and when they hear an interesting phrase they start developing it and they've got a piece. Classical composers have to be aware of their form and structure.

AAJ: Who are the jazz pianists you'd regard as the most important ones in the history?

EM: I'd start with Earl Hines, Thelonious Monk, and finish with Bill Evans and Chick Corea. They are to me the ones who are historically the most important; others like Art Tatum or Oscar Peterson are simply virtuoso jazz pianists.

AAJ: Who among the ones you mentioned was your main inspiration when you started out?

EM: All of them equally. If you still want me to single out a name for you, then I'll say Bill Evans.

AAJ: What's so special about Evans?

EM: Bill Evans was Russian and he was also a good classical performer. So his jazz improvisations combined classical delicacy. He also knew Khachaturian and Rachmaninoff very well and he even introduced Miles Davis to their music.

AAJ: How do you relate to the different statements out there regarding where jazz comes from?

EM: I absolutely agree with the popular claim that it started out as "black way of playing European classical music", but knowing that no genre ever developed from a single source, I can easily say it's totally Afro-American. Jazz is "their" music, regardless how many "Evanses" and "Brubecks" have been around.

AAJ: Why is the jazz played in Europe often so different from what we can hear in America?

EM: That may be what they call "ethno jazz". Most of the countries in Europe have very rich musical traditions of their own and their jazzmen don't forget their folk music when they play jazz.

AAJ: Well, let's hope that you will not forget it either. Thanks a lot for your time, Edward! I wish you all the best in your musical journey.

EM: Thank You.

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