Learn How

Help improve All About Jazz

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. For $20, we'll hide those pesky Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

138

Armen Donelian: Quartet Language

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Armen Donelian: Quartet Language Quartet Language is as much about history as it is about living in the moment. The 1992 live recording had to sit around for a decade before Playscape picked it up for release this year. Pianist Armen Donelian is a veteran whose credentials have never been in doubt: he first appeared on record a quarter century ago and has recently led a string of solid discs, mostly for Sunnyside. But in the end I suspect the decision to get Quartet Language out for public consumption might have more to do with Thomas Chapin than Donelian himself.

Chapin, a long-time associate of Playscape frequent fliers Michael Musillami and Mario Pavone, was quite active in New York in the '90s until his untimely passing in 1999 from leukemia. His often energetic playing, especially on alto saxophone, always marked him as a free-spirited individual. He's at the top of his game here with a combination of ragged tone and soulful delivery, always forward-looking, beckoning without weakness or compromise.

The five selections on this record, all Donelian compositions, are all about twelve minutes long, which means that everyone gets a chance to stretch out. They're marked by memorable melodies and the occasional odd meter. "Jabberwackey" opens the record with a dramatic flourish in 7/4, funky as hell and not the least bit awkward. Donelian's off-kilter comping, direct and staccato, finds its balance in the form of Chapin's slurred phrases. Armen Donelian is a very even-handed leader and his support often does more to propel the music than his solos, which are engaging in their own right.

The soft bolero entitled "Mexico" draws from deep roots on both sides of the Atlantic. It's a nice break from the faster-paced pieces on the record. "Loose as a Goose" sounds uncannily like Don Pullen's African Brazilian Connection: Chapin's insistent vibrato, Donelian's blues/gospel inflections, and the ever-bubbling support from the rhythm section.

The real strengths of this record are Donelian's diverse compositions and Chapin's talent for extracting the most from every phrase. Without either part, the record just wouldn't work. Mark Armen Donelian on your list of musicians to watch, and rejoice at another opportunity to hear Thomas Chapin do his thing.

Visit Playscape Recordings and Armen Donelian on the web.


Track Listing: Jabberwackey; The Germ; Mexico; Loose as a Goose; Brood Mood.

Personnel: Armen Donelian: piano; Thomas Chapin: alto saxophone; Calvin Hill: bass; Jeff Williams: drums.

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Playscape Recordings | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read #knowingishalfthebattle CD/LP/Track Review #knowingishalfthebattle
by Mark F. Turner
Published: January 23, 2017
Read Live In Brooklyn CD/LP/Track Review Live In Brooklyn
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 23, 2017
Read King Of Xhosa CD/LP/Track Review King Of Xhosa
by James Nadal
Published: January 23, 2017
Read Blooming Tall Phlox CD/LP/Track Review Blooming Tall Phlox
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 23, 2017
Read Hear & Now CD/LP/Track Review Hear & Now
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 22, 2017
Read Known-Unknown CD/LP/Track Review Known-Unknown
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: January 22, 2017
Read "Yo!" CD/LP/Track Review Yo!
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 20, 2016
Read "Free for One" CD/LP/Track Review Free for One
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 31, 2016
Read "Our Second Set" CD/LP/Track Review Our Second Set
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 23, 2016
Read "Trane 90" CD/LP/Track Review Trane 90
by Jim Trageser
Published: December 1, 2016
Read "Magia" CD/LP/Track Review Magia
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 6, 2016
Read "A Good Time Was Had By All" CD/LP/Track Review A Good Time Was Had By All
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 25, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Get Jazz Near You via email!

Enjoy the convenience of receiving a comprehensive listing of jazz events in your area every Thursday. It's free!