DIVINE ORIENTAL VOICE
HAIG YAZDJIAN & Group (Armenia / Greece)One of the driving forces in the Greek world-jazz music scene for the past decade, Haig Yazdjian, delivers yet another surprising solo endeavor. Centered around his unique editorial writing style and his ethereal oud playing, Amalur chronicles five years of travelling around the world with his band of first-class musicians, numerous collaborations with leading figures of the world music scene (Nikos Xydakis, Eleftheria Arvanitaki, Savina Yannatou, Maria Farantouri, Omar Farouk Tekbilek, Djivan Gasparyan, Theodossi Spasov, Glen Velez, Abdullah Chhadeh, VEDAKI Group, EVA Quartet and Kudsi Erguner) and experimentation with new vehicles of expression, namely, the introduction of the electric oud – an instrument he uses for the very first time on record.
Haig Yazdjian is one of the great figures in world music. This super-charged, traditional meets modern band album unites the two sides of his remarkable musical personality – the virtuosic traditionalist and the restless innovator. Recorded in a series of long sessions at Aeolia Studio in Athens, Amalur packs the fruit of more than ten years experimentation into some of the densest, punchiest, most richly textured music Yazdjian has ever delivered.
Born in Syria of Armenian parents Yazdjian emigrated to Greece in the early ‘80s and as a young man, the electric guitar was on his mind rather than the oud. In the resonance of the instrument though, he did discover, the undiscovered lands of his expressive pursuits. In just a few years he established himself as a leading soloist in Greece, a reputation that brought him next to the prominent composers and leading singers. In fact the first album he released was a solo oud album (1994), portraying the possibilities of the instrument. Two years later (1996) came his first narrative album that under the name of his young daughter Talar, a musical landascape inspired by the harshness and gentleness of Armenia, the middle East and the West, treating them as live battling and complimentary creative forces. The way Yazdjian treated traditional Armenian compositions, middle eastern expressions and his own compositions accelerated his popularity and charted him as one of the most promising composers. With the interlude of the CD single Gift (1997) came in 1998 his second major album, this time under the name of his second daughter, Garin, further expanding the journey to the topography of musical tropes. Soon, while Yazdjian composes and releases one of his most important works Beast on the Moon, stage music for the title play by Richard Kalinosky (2000) comes international recognition. First with the export of his albums in Europe, the US and the Middle East, soon followed by concerts; festivals and an extensive tour of Spain where he gains impressive popularity, festivals in Spain and Scandinavia and an extensive tour of Germany. In 2001, Yeraz, was released to much critical acclaim, both in Greece and abroad. A high episode of Yazdjian’s narrative, Yeraz unfolded a dreamworld, a reality of possibilities, an inner world, common to all listeners and fellow dreamers. The years that followed found Yazdjian to be touring Europe yet again, as well as forming several side-projects that helped him set the foundations for new artistic heights.
In 2005, the Canadian world music diva, Loreenna McKennitt, after auditioning numerous musicians from around the world, chose Haig Yazdjian to be one of the “voices” of her latest project. After extensive rehearsals and recording sessions in Real World studios, England, Haig’s oud playing found its way to the songs of An Ancient Muse, McKennitt’s solo album that hit the stores late 2005. A European mini-tour followed, as well as the filming for a soon-to-be-released live DVD of Two Nights at the Alhambra.
Hot on heels from this collaboration, Haig started recording new music that had been “born” throughout all these years, since 2001’s Yeraz, the music that was to become Amalur. The album features two very important guest artists, a first for a Yazdjian record. On the song Erimos, one of the leading figures in Greek music, Eleftheria Arvanitaki, delivers a moving interpretation in of the first Yazdjian songs to feature Greek lyrics! Also, the composition Ara encloses a heartfelt improvisation (or taksim, in eastern terms) by the Armenian oud virtuoso and leader of the legendary ethnic group Night Ark, Ara Dinkjian.
Amalur was released in 2007. The sum of ten tracks, as mentioned above, is the first Yazdjian record to include songs (three in number) with Greek lyrics, penned by some of the most important Greek lyricists (Elias Katsoulis, Nikos Moraitis and Iris Louka). A traditional Iraqi song, Fog el-nakhel, a traditional Armenian song, Yareh martou yara gouda, as well as five instrumental compositions complete the set.
“TALAR” Libra / 1995
“GARIN” Libra / 1998
“BEST OF THE MOON” HY / 2000
“YERAZ” Lyra / 2001
“AMALUR” Libra / 2007
Elmau Jazz Festival, Salzburg Balkan Festival, Vienna Salam Islam, Berlin Fest der Kontinente, Luxembourg, St.Wendel, Rudolstadt, Brave Festival Wroclaw, Kassel World Music Festival, Transvocale Frankfurt Oder etc.
“I used to meet up with Haig each time I came to Greece. A few days ago, I went to the club where he performed, and although I knew well he is an excellent musician, I discovered that he is an exceptional singer also. I was amazed,”.
Ara Dinkjian, NIGHT ARK, at DIFONO
Listening to the way Haig Yazdjian plays the oud, one thing comes to mind, something similar to what they cal in Flamenco duende: this man is full of spirit, of emotion, much passion that he reveals through his art..”
Manos Tzanakakis, POP&ROCK Mag.
Among the standout players in today’s music that have gotten my attenton are
Squarepusher, Kim Kashkashian, Aphex Twin, Haig Yazdjian, Unkle, DJ Shadow, Jane Siberry, Howie B, Ruben Blades, Harriet Tubman, Simon Shahee, Lisa Gerrard/Executioners, etc.
David Torn, VIP Lounge Interview