115

Armen Donelian: Full Moon Music

Michael McCaw By

Sign in to view read count
Armen Donelian: Full Moon Music
Precious few listeners are aware of Armen Donelian. A tremendously talented pianist who has never had a major label signing nor has attached his name to a legend or star of some sort, Donelian has quietly created a body of work that at the very least is consistent, at best exhilarating. His latest release covers the same amount of ground.

Full Moon Music is the final installment in Donelian's Grand Ideas series. Volume 1 - Wave focused on standards and popular song, Volume 2 - Mystic Heights focused on original compositions, and this third installment consists of fourteen spontaneous improvisations. While the sound of Full Moon Music may not instantly take hold of your senses like recitals from the likes of Keith Jarrett or Brad Mehldau, Donelian provides a constant stream of ideas and beauty that is hard to deny.

In fact, during many of his improvisations, such as the opening "Preamble, his ideas are so complete that they sound like a pre-composed melody that you have known from somewhere before, but simply can not place. And while the songs are good, they do not move the listener into a place of discovery as often as one would hope.

Although the tone of the album never leaps beyond its lush midrange soundstage, Donelian does present a visual sense where every song has considerable variance and movement. Titles inform, or are informed by, the music associated with them, whether they are a "Barren Landscape, "Pilgrimage, or "Beer Drinker's Anthem, with its warbling, slightly out of tune sing-song quality.

Throughout the program, Donelian keeps his considerable technique in check, unleashing it only when it serves the song, as on "Young Asses at Play, where his hands dance around each other, creating a whirlwind of punchy notes. He begins to incorporate extended techniques here as well, such as scraping the strings of the piano. Following this playground of sound, he comes back around to the opening whirlwind this time with a sense of weariness in the higher register and a much slower tempo, as if almost exhausted. And as the album continues into "Blues Montage, he treats the listener to variations that range from deep grooves to manic right-hand movement over a repeating left-handed bass line, while working within the stated medium. In these moments, the music leaps forward and shows what a considerable talent Donelian really is.

Nonetheless, even with these flights of fancy, the sense of daring that one would expect to permeate an album of improvisations is not present at every turn. In fact, without prior knowledge of the album's conception, one would be hard pressed not to argue that many of these songs are not through-composed miniatures of nuance and beauty. Ultimately, this completeness is actually Donelian's worst enemy and best asset.

Visit Armen Donelian on the web.

Track Listing

Preamble; A Call To The Spirits; The Witch

Personnel

Armen Donelian: piano.

Album information

Title: Full Moon Music | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records

comments powered by Disqus

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read The Sudden Bird of Waiting
The Sudden Bird of Waiting
Patrick Brennan/Maria do Mar/Ernesto Rodrigues/Miguel Mira/Hernâni Faustino/Abdul Moimême
Read Myasmo
Myasmo
Mia Zabelka
Read Originations
Originations
Ryan Cohan
Read Dualisms
Dualisms
Michael Malis
Read Awareness
Awareness
Joe Sturges
Read Move On!
Move On!
Purdie / Fabian / Oswanski
Read Newton
Newton
Tony Bevan / Ashley Wales

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.