BBC Awards for World Music 2006 Winner.
Armenia is a nation that invokes many descriptions: landlocked, ancient, nestled in the foothills of the Caucasus mountains and bearer of many tragic events. Yet Armenia is also celebrated for its music, especially the duduk, a flute carved from apricot wood with a cane reed whose range is barely one octave. When played by a master such as Djivan Gasparyan the duduk creates one of the loneliest, most moving sounds ever heard.
Yet Armenia is not land locked in the past; instead, it has maintained a connection with Western thought and culture - this has been helped by a huge Armenian diaspora, many of whom live in the USA - and The Armenian Navy Band are the most brilliant example yet of how an ancient culture can comfortably blend with a contemporary one.
The Armenian Navy Band was founded by the percussionist/vocalist of Armenian descent, Arto Tunçboyaciyan. Arto likes to describe The Armenian Navy Band as 'avant garde music from Armenia' which suggests something of the band but is a little limiting. The band have a strong jazz influence and to this they bring in all manner of folkloric instrumentation so building an organic creation that, well, swings.
Along with others of the Armenian diaspora, Arto Tuncboyaciyan grew up on the outskirts of Istanbul. Arto turned to music to celebrate his culture and here he managed to keep alive the spirit of Armenia. The sorrow and loneliness, also to be found in African-American jazz and blues, are mixed here with the melancholy Armenian spirit. Yet there is also joy, love and solace.
The Navy Band is composed of twelve Armenian musicians and the compositions are all Arto originals which - using his words - 'have the sound of my life'. The instruments vary from traditional: duduk, zurna, kemanche, kanun to contemporary: trombone, alto sax, tenor, soprano sax, trumpet, bass, drums, keyboard and piano.
"I don't give direction to anybody," says Arto. "I let you imagine for yourself but what I try to give you is Love, Respect, Truth. I believe this is the path for trust. Trust is one of the simplest forms of wealth in this world. This is what we need."
01. Let Factories Open
02. Let' Not Become A Copy From A Copy
03. Let's Try A New Road
04. I Dont Forget My Faith
05. Here's To You Ararat
06. My Door Is Open For Everybody
07. Broken Waltz
08. Red Bird
09. Kef Kef ( Celebration )
10. Kitchen Song
11. Every Person Is One Life
13. Look At Your Forehead
14. For The Souls Of Those Who Passe