Tigran Hamasyan – Aratta Rebirth: Red Hail (2009)

Tigran Hamasyan - Aratta Rebirth: Red Hail (2009)
Artist: Tigran Hamasyan
Album: Aratta Rebirth: Red Hail
Genre: Contemporary Jazz, World Fusion
Origin: Armenia
Released: 2009
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps

01. Shoger Jan
02. Red Hail (Of Pomegranate Seeds)
03. The Glass-Hearted Queen
04. Love Song
05. Falling
06. Sibylla
07. Corrupt
08. Part 1- Serpentine
09. Part 2- Moneypulated
10. Chinar Es (You’re as Tall as a Plane Tree)
11. The Awakening of Mher (Mithra)
12. Amran Gisher (Summer Night)


Emerging keyboardist Tigran Hamasyan is truly a virtuoso performer who minces no musical words, and never holds back on his immense talent. Aratta Rebirth is his second release as a leader, in this case with the group dubbed Red Hail, embracing his Middle Eastern heritage, playing modern jazz based on folk tunes that stretch far beyond their origins. With vocalist Areni Agbabian, Hamasyan somehow conjures up whirling dervish motifs that stagger the imagination while also retaining a soulful quality that suggests seductive late-night scenarios in smoke-filled rooms laced with immediate sexual pleasure references. But it’s only marginally about the act of intertwining, and more about the catalyst and spark that start fires burning, for Hamasyan’s acoustic and electric piano playing is a long fuse that eventually incites the explosive music. Saxophonist Ben Wendel and drummer Nate Wood are kindling for the roaring flames, with bassist Sam Minale chopping up underlying lines that keep the excited heat stoked and nourished. There’s some stunning music here, starting with the bold inventions of the opening track, “Shogher Jan,” an adapted Armenian folk song turned into a fiery discourse between Hamasyan’s impressively fast and spontaneous spiky, complex piano lines and the sidled voice of Agbabian stewed in many mixed meters. The title track is a rock-hard, edgy fusion, loud and ultra-kinetic; “Falling” is similar in beat with some insane Arabic or East Indian scatting and a modal jazz segment; while “The Awakening of Mher” is also rocked out via Hamasyan’s Fender Rhodes, the electric guitar of Charles Altura, and Wendel’s tenor sax. Six consecutive tracks include Wendel on soprano sax and bassoon, including the serene “Love Song,” the piercing “Sibylla” (which is the basis for the following piece, “Corrupt”), and the two-part “Serpentine” and “Moneypulated” (starting as a brash electronica-based minimalist directive and merging into Hamasyan’s pleasant, echoed Rhodes sans bass). The most innately busy piece is “The Glass-Hearted Queen,” soulful and busy within a kinetic form with Agbabian’s wordless vocals, all wrapped in a 9/8 rhythm. Tigran Hamasyan is as impressive as any relatively new piano voice like Eldar Djangirov, Vijay Iyer, or Taylor Eigsti, playing a lot of notes and exhaustive in his concept. This recording, with its world and ethnic fusion approach, sets him apart from the rest, and like similar artists Rami Khalife and Fahir Atakoglu, establishes new standards, raising the bar very high for new music, while Hamasyan plays in a league of his own.
Review by Michael G. Nastos

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