Articles by Hrayr Attarian

ALBUM REVIEWS

School Of Music Graduate Ensemble: Lyric Motion

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The University of Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania houses one of the premier music schools in the United States. Director Don Glanden has released several discs showcasing the talents of those he mentors. The 2019 edition is the delightful and engaging Lyric Motion. It features three different groupings of a dozen of the most accomplished students, together with Glanden, on eight mainstream originals. The tunes range from guitarist Dave Allen's laid-back title track to pianist Ian Sadock's passionate “Night ...

CATCHING UP WITH

Arthur Satyan: A life Steeped in Music

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Pianist, composer and educator Arthur Satyan came to Lebanon from his native Armenia in 1996 with a 3-month contract for the reopening of the area's premier performance space Casino Du Liban. Accompanying Satyan were American musicians drummer Steve Phillips, bassist Jack Gregg and guitarist Eric Schultz. Satyan ended up accepting a position at the Lebanese National Conservatory of Music as a professor of classical piano and, in 2005 founded the school's jazz department which he still heads. Throughout the past ...

CATCHING UP WITH

Rina Yamazaki: Conversations with a Rising Star

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Born in Japan, up and coming pianist Rina Yamazaki has lived in in the USA since she was accepted at Boston's prestigious Berklee College of Music on a full scholarship in 2015. Both before moving to the US and after Yamazaki has earned a number of well-deserved accolades for her high-level musicianship. From receiving the Jazz Performance Award soon after arriving in Boston to placing second in the Ellis Marsalis International Jazz Piano Competition in 2018 Yamazaki has amassed several ...

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Layale Chaker and Sarafand: Inner Rhyme

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Arabic poetry is the primary source of inspiration for Lebanese violinist and composer Layale Chaker's innovative and vibrant debut Inner Rhyme. Recorded in New York with her band Sarafand (named after a Palestinian village that was abandoned in 1948) this original music is full of subtle wit and sublime emotion. In crafting this exquisite album, Chaker transposes traditional Arabic poetic meters to rhythmic ones. She also draws upon her western classical training as well as her Levantine heritage ...

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Burak Bedikyan: New Beginning

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On his fourth release as a leader, the thoughtful and captivating New Beginning, pianist Burak Bedikyan has matured both as a composer and improviser. The album is Bedikyan's first with a trio and consists mostly, although not entirely, of original material. The cadence and the melody within each piece transform in delightfully surprising ways while maintaining thematic consistency both within individual tracks and among them. For instance, “Rue Dauphin" starts off with Bedikyan's contemplative, unaccompanied refrains. Bassist Jay ...

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Matador: Ducon

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Uruguayan guitarist and composer Santiago Bogacz, who goes by the stage name Matador, has already proven his virtuosity and adventurous spirit on a number of eponymous solo EPs, each with gorgeous abstract art work as a distinguishing feature. Ducón is his second duet release after the poetic Cabala (Self Produced, 2018). This time he has teamed up with bassist Antonino Restuccia. Recorded live on September 8th 2018 in the city of Ducón, the album consists of a single, multifaceted and ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Two Exciting And Poignant Albums From Wendy Eisenberg

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A fearless improviser with a refreshing disregard for genre, Wendy Eisenberg is a poet, banjoist and vocalist yet Eisenberg's guitar fully showcases her mastery. This virtuoso explores all dimensions of her instrument with fiery elegance and a vibrant sense of adventure to her music. In 2018 she released two stimulating and unique albums: Its Shape is Your Touch (VSDQ, 2018) and The Machinic Unconscious (Tzadik, 2018). Wendy Eisenberg Its Shape is Your Touch VSDQ 2018 ...

YEAR IN REVIEW

Attarian's Dozen: The Twelve Best Recordings from 2018

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The year 2018 was, musically speaking, a good year. The label Pi Recordings did it again with six magnificent albums, three of which made it in my top twelve. In addition, two feminist themed gems are included as well as four by master pianists. An intimate and adventurous duet, a meeting of great minds and a unique genre-bender round up the list. Below are the releases in no particular order. Henry Threadgill Dirt... And More Dirt ...

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Kyle Nasser: Persistent Fancy

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Saxophonist Kyle Nasser follows his 2015 self-released debut, the captivating Restive Soul, with the equally intriguing Persistent Fancy. On it Nasser's writing has matured and his ideas crystalized resulting in vibrant and compelling originals. The title track is an intricately crafted and passionate tune that brims with refreshing spontaneity. Bursts of saxophone notes complement guitarist Jeff Miles' simmering and fluid lines. Bassist Nick Jost and drummer Allan Mednard create a taut rhythmic framework with their agile reverberations and ...

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Abbey Rader West Coast Quartet: Second Gathering

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Drummer Abbey Rader is a consummate improviser and an innovative bandleader. His intrepid creativity evolves and transforms with each recording. The 2018 Second Gathering is no exception. On it Rader leads his West Coast Quartet on five spontaneously composed multilayered tracks that bear his indelible mark of cerebral spirituality. The ambience of “Uncovering the Jewel in the Lotus" is that of an eastern Zen serenity. Bassist Kyle Motl's reverberating strums and Rader's rustling percussion build an angular rhythmic ...

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Petra van Nuis: Because We’re Night People

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On the elegant and delightful Because We're Night People Chicago natives, vocalist Petra van Nuis and pianist Dennis Luxion, interpret thirteen night-themed tunes with charm and sophistication. The two musicians are superbly matched, she with her refined grace and emotive vocals and he with his vibrant lyricism. The pair performs a selection of standards in a refreshingly singular style, that is simultaneously true to the original's essence yet deeply personal. For example, Luxion embellishes the intimate “Night People," ...

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Balazs Balogh: Borderline Inspirations

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Hungarian drummer Balázs Balogh leads a multinational group on his intelligent and charming debut Borderline Inspirations. For it he has also penned seven elegant, poetic and sometimes provocative originals. Balogh has been leading an award-winning quintet since 2014 that includes several of those who appear on this captivating album which also showcases Balogh's noteworthy compositional skills. One of the highlights of this uniformly engaging release is the multilayered “Metamorphosis." Opening with a dark, expectant mood, Balogh's compatriot, pianist ...


2019 NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert

In celebration of the 2019 NEA Jazz Masters—Stanley Crouch, Bob Dorough, Abdullah Ibrahim, and Maria Schneider—the National Endowment for the Arts, in collaboration with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, hosted a free concert in their honor on April 15, 2019.

The evening featured remarks by NEA Acting Chair Mary Anne Carter and Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter and appearances by world-renowned musicians paying tribute to the NEA Jazz Masters’ careers, with performances by Jay Anderson, Steve Berger, Terence Blanchard, Terri Lyne Carrington, Kurt Elling, Sullivan Fortner, Bill Goodwin, Cleave Guyton, Noah Jackson, 2012 NEA Jazz Master Sheila Jordan, Grace Kelly, Frank Kimbrough, Christian McBride, Charles McPherson, Jason Moran, David Murray, Pat O’Leary, Scott Robinson, and J D Walter.