Founded in 1938 by Artemi Ayvazyan , the Armenian Jazz Band was soon given a status of a state big band and since then, it’s been contributing to the vibrant development of jazz in Armenia.

Konstantin Orbelyan, a brilliant musician and composer, was included as the pianist in the band in 1948, who became its legendary leader in 1956. The orchestra proceeded to a novel phase. The repertoire was enriched by Orbelyan’s compositions.

Gradually the band won a wide recognition, participating in a variety of prominent jazz festivals.

In the late 1990-s, the orchestra was given a new life by producer Arthur Asatryan, composer and instrumentalist Armen Martirosyan, the latter became its art director. Talented saxophone player Armen Hyusnunts directed the musical part. The repertoire was enriched with folk- based melodies. The outstanding «Mountain Dance», «Masisamba» and «Eastern Blues» are the highlights of the Armenian State Jazz Band repertoire throughout the world. The band created its authentic style based on Armenian folk music. 

In 2008 Armenia celebrated the 70th anniversary of Armenian

Jazz. In 1938 Artemi Ayvazyan formed Armenian Jazz Band which received a state status, and the following decades proved to be fertile for the band. With the birth of the Armenian State Jazz Band, Artemi Ayvazyan, composer and patriarch of Armenian pop music, laid not only the foundations of the Armenian State Jazz Band, but that of jazz art in Armenia as well.

 

The basic staff of musicians took shape throughout years of work, as well as its authentic style, which combined characteristic features of both jazz and the Soviet pop music. Konstantin Orbelyan, a brilliant musician and composer, was included as the pianist in the band in 1948, who became the leader of theband in 1956. The orchestra proceeded to a novel phase. The staff of the band and its stylistic principles changed completely. The repertoire was enriched by Orbelyan’s compositions.

Gradually the band won a wide recognition, participating in a variety of prominent jazz festivals.

 

 

In 1970 at the Golden Orpheus Festival the orchestra won the main prize, and soon

it became the laureate of international festivals in Poland, France, Germany. Five

years later, in 1975 Armenian Jazz Band had a tour in USA, the birthplace of

jazz music, where it performed in a number of cities. Its concert tours were held in

over 40 countries.

 

In the late 1990-s, having a long history the orchestra was given a new life by producer Arthur Asatryan, composer and instrumentalist Armen Martirosyan, the latter became its art director. Talented saxophone player Armen Hyusnunts directed the musical part. Due to Armen Martirosyan the band reached its high professionalism, showing interest towards contemporary arrangements and novel forms. He enriched the repertoire with his compositions rich with Armenian folk melodies, owing to which the orchestra stirred interest and acquired great fame abroad. Outstanding «Mountain Dance», «Masisamba» and «Eastern Blues» by this composer are considered a visiting card of Armenian State Jazz Band throughout the world. The band created its authentic style based on originating in past centuries Armenian folk music. Besides, the orchestra displayed a unique approach towards folk instruments. It played in concert programs both in Armenia and in foreign countries, in the frames of many international festivals.

In April 2002 Jazz Appreciation Month was commenced by the US Embassy in Armenia, and gaining great popularity, it was held yearly until 2006. Among the prominent ensembles and bands participating in the festival, Armenian State Jazz Band had its annual contribution. In 2002 at the Annual National Music Awards ceremony the record called “Armenian Jazz Band” was awarded as the Best Song Collection. In 2006 the band left for Russia where the musicians took

part in the Days of Armenian Culture.

In 2008 at the Annual National Music Awards ceremony, Armenian State Jazz Band was awarded the” Best Jazz Band” prize. 

 

In November of 2010 Armen Hyusnunts became the art director of the band.

 

Having a 75-year-old history and passing a long way, this band has created its own unique and authentic style rich with Armenian folk music, with lavish tonalities and its metro-rhythmic patterns. The repertoire of the band has constantly included works by Armenian outstanding composers such as Artemi Ayvazyan, Konstantin Orbelyan, Stephan Shakaryan, Arno Babajanyan, Martin Vartazaryan, Robert Amirkhanyan, Armen Martirosyan, Artashes Kartalyan, Vahagn Hayrapetyan, Armen Hyusnunts and others. The introduction of folk instruments like duduk, zurna, dhol, blul, vividly highlights the national touch of the band.

Thus, it reveals both rich and colorful Armenian music and the high professionalism of the orchestra and its genuine style.

Speaking of the band, it should be noted, that besides works by Armenian composers, it performs abundant jazz standards by Sammy Nestico, Bob Mintzer, Bob Lowden, Thad Jones, John LaBarbera, Jerry Nowak, Gordon Goodwin and other composers and arrangers. All this has resulted in brilliant performances of the band throughout the world.

 

Since 2010, when Armen Hyusnunts became the art director and the conductor of Armenian State Jazz Orchestra, it had many concert programs in Armenia and in foreign countries.
Since 2010 the band has been performing in Cafesjian Centre for the Arts almost every month, within the frame of “Music Cascade” project. 


In the same year the band had the line of concerts in United Arab Emirates.

In 2012 Armenian State Jazz Orchestra together with State Youth Orchestra of Armenia had an amazing concert for Christmas. 

In 2013 the orchestra performed with a legend Konstantin Orbelyan, the concert was dedicated to his 85 anniversary. Unfortunately , a year after that concert, the great composer and musician Orbelyan died, and Armenian State Jazz Orchestra performed a concert in honor of the great musician. 
In 2013 the band also had a concert, where it hosted a famous trumpet player from USA, Adam Rapa. 

In 2013 the band had a concert in Gyumri within the project “Gyumri and Jazz”.

In December of 2014 the band had a big concert in Yerevan as a conclusion of hard work during the whole year.


In 2015 Armenian State Jazz Orchestra performed in Midem 2015 Festival (France , Cannes), where Armenia was recognized as a Country of Honor.

MEET THE ARTISTS

Q: After a series of successful tours and concerts over the last few years, the Big Band seems to gain another inspirational upturn.  What should the audience be anticipating from the legendary Big Band?

 

A: In its continuous creative aspirations, the band is planning and rehearsing new works and arrangements to add to our abundant repertoire. We’re celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Band next year, and we hope to present different periods of our musical development through a series of jubilee tours. 

Armenian State Jazz Big Band

(Armenia)

© 2017 Armenian Jazz Highlights