First sounds of music, termed jazz, were born in the United States early in the 20th century. Prior to this, jazz went through a 300-year-long blending process of the two basic musical tendencies – European and Western-African. This remarkable synthesis of musical culture of various nations, residing side by side on the North American land and later in the United States, indicated to the international character of jazz and its potential to expand beyond the boundaries of its historical homeland.
Jazz crossed the Atlantics at an incredible pace and in 1930’s it was enjoyed and performed in most of the big European cities. Sounds of jazz were first heard in Moscow early in 1920’s.
Jazz was introduced into Armenia in mid 1930’s. Its official birth in Armenia goes back to 1938 when the Armenian State Jazz Orchestra was founded by the composer Artemi Ayvazyan.
Jazz took roots and spread on the Armenian land both because of its great appeal and the amazing musical culture of our nation able to nurture and advance it. The common features of jazz and the Armenian national music, such as rhythm and harmony, contributed to this process.
The 75-year-long history of jazz in Armenia can be split into two – Soviet and post-Soviet - periods. During the Soviet period Armenia evolved jazz art in the context of the Soviet cultural ideology, whilst struggling with problems such as:
- its semi-legal existence in between 1948-1952 shortage of CDs, information and manuals on jazz lack of international contacts between musicians lack of regular public performances
Nonetheless, the Armenian artists worked their way from pop, jazz-like music to the wonderful jazz compositions we enjoy today.
In the post-Soviet period, with the set-up of jazz clubs and jazz cafes, jazz eventually acquired the environment favorable for its growth and further development, whilst the musicians gained the much-aspired freedom to take actions and establish international contacts. Under the new circumstances jazz turned into a regular, paid form of activity with the potential for the musicians to grow and promote the genre.
During these 75 years our national musical culture has amassed an impressive number of remarkable jazz and pop music compositions with elements of jazz. The recordings made by the Armenian musicians include a big variety of jazz styles such as:
- performance of “pure jazz” - classical jazz, renowned throughout the year
- performance of the author’s compositions of classical jazz, in which the national musical identity of the author may be expressed
- performance of the author’s compositions or interpretations of the Armenian folk music pieces with elements of the Armenian musical traditions, and pieces in which along with jazz instruments Armenian folk music instruments are being used
This anthology encompasses a variation of styles used by the Armenian musicians. It includes recordings of 109 compositions that come in three categories:
- authors (selected compositions of the Armenian authors)
- orchestras & bands
Most of the recordings selected in the anthology have been made during concerts rather than in studios.
As an exception, performances of our compatriots – outstanding representatives of soviet (Russian) jazz have been included in the anthology.
We have a number of Armenian prominent jazz artists living and creating from out of Armenia, and in this light, compilation of the anthology Armenians in the world of foreign jazz is a timely matter too.
The authors admit that this anthology it is not as comprehensive as it could be, and probably not all the famed artists have been included in it due to the lack or loss of their recordings. The technical quality of the recordings may not please the fastidious audience either. Nonetheless, this anthology has a number of undisputable benefits.
The anthology features a variety of jazz styles including mainstream jazz, latin jazz, jazz funk, jazz fusion, ethno jazz.
This initiative comes to prove that jazz music is the essential part of the national musical heritage of Armenia, still widely played today, and something we should take pride in.
Dear music lovers, let this colorful and thrilling world of jazz bring you joy and inspiration.
Doctor of Arts, Professor, Renowned musician of Armenia.