Washington, DC (PRWEB) February 02, 2014
It may be early in the year, but pianist/composer Arshak Sirunyan’s Hoodman’s Blind is likely to be one of the most unique and compelling releases in 2014. The Armenian born musician was a finalist in that country’s prestigious National J. S. Bach Concerto Competition in 1994. Now a Washington DC resident, he has assembled a top-tier ensemble of award-winning artists from around the globe in creating this transformative collection of genre-defying compositions.
Inspired by the medieval predecessor of the game “Blindman’s Bluff”, Arshak has woven a tale that creatively captures the strategy and visceral emotions of the earlier, and far more raucous, version of the game. Arshak efficiently captures the rollercoaster of emotions as he reimagines the game on a grander and more dangerous level.
Adding to overall experience of Hoodman’s Blind is multi-media aspect of the project including the reproduction of paintings from the UK, Turkey, Serbia, South Africa, China and US. The CD’s beautifully rendered insert features original art by Lin Chen (Siege Warfare), Onur Bakar (I’m Cold), Gloria Scholik (The Mirror), Vuk Kostic (Army), Lily Coulombe (Jester) and Ben Andrews (Market Day).
Bassist Cheikh Ndoye serves double-duty on Hoodman’s Blind acting as the album’s Associate Producer. A regular collaborator with Arshak, the synergy and shared vision comes through in every track.
Hoodman’s Blind also features the talents of Eric Marienthal a former member of the Chick Corea Elektric Band who played on two of their multiple Grammy award winning albums. He has also performed with a number of industry giants including Elton John, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Aaron Neville, The Rippingtons, and The Yellowjackets.
Saxophonist and composer Bob Franceschini performed on Mike Stern's Grammy Nominated album Voices and has appeared as a sideman on scores of recordings from pop luminaries such as Paul Simon and Celine Dion and Latin stars Willie Colón, Tito Puente, and Eddie Palmieri.
Guitartist Chieli Minucci is best known as leader of the Grammy-nominated Special EFX. In addition, he has performed with pop artists such as Lionel Richie, Jennifer Lopez, Jewel, and Jessica Simpson. Minucci’s also has a rich jazz history recording and performing with Jay Beckenstein , Marion Meadows, Gerald Veasley and Bob Baldwin, among others. In addition, Minucci has earned several Emmy Awards for his extensive work in television.
Drummer Raul Pineda is another Grammy winner with a 2000 award for Best Latin Jazz Performance with the Chucho Valdés Quartet album, Live at the Village Vanguard. In addition, Pineda has been nominated for three additional Grammys.
Armenian singer, percussionist , multi-instrumentalist and Grammy winner Arto Tunçboyacıyan has worked with jazz legends such as Joe Zawinul, Chet Baker, Paul Winter and Al Di Meola. His diverse musical offerings have also been featured on two motion picture soundtracks.
Drummer John Lamkin III, an East Coast fixture has worked with Dexter Gordon, Lionel Hampton, Roy Hargrove, and Kenny Garrett to mention just a few. He shares the drumming role with Omar Hakim who has long worked across the genres of jazz, fusion and pop performing with vibraphonist Mike Mainieri, singer Carly Simon, Weather Report and Sting. Hakim supplied much of the drumming for Mark Knopfler’s Dire Straits' album Brothers in Arms and has worked in American television as well.
Likely the most familiar name in the Hoodman’s Blind lineup is that of jazz guitar great, Mike Stern. Prior to his stellar solo career, Stern had played with famed pop group Blood, Sweat & Tears, drummer Billy Cobham and, most notably, Miles Davis. Stern has won numerous awards and in 2009 was ranked on Down Beat's list of 75 best jazz guitarists.
Rounding out the international roster of performers are The Vardanyan Quartet, Artyom Manukyan (cello) and Artur Yeghiazaryan (tav shvi), Arshavir Isahakyan (French Horns) and Albert Ordinyan(Doumbek).
It’s clear from the opening piece, Preface, that Hoodman’s Blind is something different. Dark and brooding, it creates an air of mystery only to be shattered by the primordial rock beat of Valor & Triumph. As the piece progresses it’s augmented by the lush strings of the Vardanyan Quartet and Chieli Minucci’s searing guitar.
The tribal chant of Celebration adroitly captures the spirit of the title while further leading down the imagined paths that built into the suite-like nature of Hoodman’s Blind. In this otherworldly swirl of musical styles there are themes that seem to circle back to their origins and then adventurously breakaway again.
Not content to settle into any one style, a bit of chamber-psychedelia emerges on The Dawn is Promised before The Warrior Song returns to a rock element but this time with subtle touches of Armenia folkloric themes. Arshak’s arrangement of Ashot Satyan’s tune breathes new life into the piece. There are more straight-ahead jazz pieces interwoven in the diverse mix of compositions as well but among the standouts are Messenger a stellar fusion accomplishment and Imperfect Pearl, a beautiful, soaring ballad.
Among the other stylistic variations that bring the global nature of Hoodman’s Blind to life are King’s Fool, a funky kaleidoscope of shifting momentum and Old Market, a piece that is both innocent and rollicking. Arshak’s piano and Artur Yeghiazaryan’s Armenian woodwinds create an organic hybrid with a life of its own.
Hoodman’s Blind is a high-energy, totally engaging outing and these highly receptive musicians clearly share in Arshak’s mission. The group retains the energy and individualism inherent in these uncompromising modern works. Hoodman’s Blind is a strong and inventive collection that is sure to win Arshak a loyal following. The story, the music and the graphics create an unforgettable story.
RELEASE DATE: MARCH 2, 2014
All About Jazz, February 2014