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Arto Tuncboyacıyan: Mr. Avant-Garde Folk

By Published: July 4, 2011
"The instrument comes from so much pain," Tunçboyacıyan explains. "I'm not a duduk player; my fingering is all wrong. I just use it to bring out what I'm thinking in my head. Armenian folk form is almost like the African harmonic folk form. It's also like the blues. Where I come from, they hate me because of my identity; that's like black people, native people here, Hispanic people, or this people or that people, or ghetto people. We are related because somebody hates you because of your identity, but you react through art instead of weapons. "Everybody has their own blues," he reflects. "Everybody who got hammered has the blues."

Human Element was not an easy project to get off the ground, as all the members are leaders in their own right and have various projects on the go. However, Tunçboyacıyan, like the other members, feels that there is a special chemistry in this quartet, and the plan is to take it ahead. It's possible to imagine a saxophone or guitar in this music, something that Tunçboyacıyan doesn't rule out: "We may bring in other musicians later; I think it might be that type of band. But it's just the four of us now, and we need to play together for a couple of years." And that is good news for lovers of jazz fusion, or avant-garde folk music, and good news too for all those who would let their imagination take them inside the creative revolution that Tunçboyacıyan and Human Element are leading.

Selected Discography

Human Element, Human Element (Abstract Logix, 2011)
Paul Winter Consort, Miho: Journey to the Mountain (Living Music, 2010)
Armenian Navy Band, Under Your Thoughts (Svota Music, 2009)
YashAr, Nefrete Kine Karsi (Arma Music, 2009)
Scott Kinsey, Kinesthetics (Abstract Logix, 2006)
Armenian Navy Band, How Much is Yours? (Svota Music, 2006)
Arto Tunçboyacıyan & Vahagn Hayrapetyan, Love is Not in Your Head (Svota Music/Heaven and Earth, 2005)
System of a Down, Toxicity (American, 2001)
Matthew Garrison, Matt Garrison (GJP, 2000)
Arto Tunçboyacıyan, Every Day is a New Life (Living Music, 2000)
Al Di Meola World Sinfonia, Grande Passion (Telarc, 2000)
Armenian Navy Band, Bzdik Zinvor (Svota Music, 1999)
Oregon, Northwest Passage (Intuition, 1997)
Arthur Blythe, Night Song (Clarity, 1997)
Joe Zawinul, Stories of the Danube (Polygram Records, 1996)
Joe Zawinul, My People (Escapade Records, 1996)
Arto Tunçboyacıyan, Main Roots (Keystone/Svota Music, 1994)
Marc Johnson,Right Brain Patrol (Polygram Records, 1993)
Dino Saluzzi, Mojotoro (ECM, 1991)
Arthur Blythe, Hipmotism (Enja, 1991)
Arto Tunçboyacıyan, Virgin Land (Keystone/Svota Music, 1989)
Night Ark, Picture (RCA/Novus, 1986)

Photo Credits
Pages 1, 3: Vikas Nambiar
Page 2: John Kelman
Page 4: Courtesy of Abstract Logix

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