I have documented in numerous blog essays the making of my film Guardians of Music and I have detailed (probably to exhaustion of my readers) how important creating such a project was for me, especially in the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
Continuing this dedication is the release of my latest CD called HOMAGE: A Tribute to Detroit Armenian Musicians. Much of the music on this CD was utilized in the Guardians of Music documentary.
This recording came by accident as it was recorded in 2013, live at a concert at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. An unlikely place to perform Armenian folk music, but a marvelous venue, theater and staff that made me feel welcome just over two years ago. I hope to go back one day for another performance!
There was no intention of releasing the music from that evening until I heard the quality of the recording. It was recorded to a thumb drive and recorded off the sound system. Normally, I like to have archives of my concerts for my own use, but this one was different. The sound quality and the mix of the instruments almost forced me to release this CD. However, I held on to it. (Special thanks to Leon Janikian for mastering the recording and getting it CD replication-ready).
As I was about to go through the process of releasing this CD, I was fortunate to have been awarded a grant from the Knight Foundation. This allowed me to create and complete Guardians of Music. The CD was already mastered and ready for duplication, but instead I concentrated on the documentary.
As I was going through producing the documentary, it became crystal clear that I needed to release the CD as a companion. The design and title of the recording was easy to choose and now HOMAGE is a continuance of the dedication to the immigrant and first-generation Armenian musicians that preserved-by-performance the dance music of the Armenian people.
The CD features some good friends of mine and they delivered a stellar performance, as usual. Along with myself on kanun, I am joined by three talented musicians.
Leon Janikian on clarinet is a friend that I have had the fortune to have recorded with and performed with over the years. A true gentlemen that loves his music and speaks eloquently about what the music means to him as both an Armenian and as a musician.
Mal Barsamian on oud is considered a virtuoso when it comes to Armenian and Middle Eastern music. In recent years, Mal can be seen performing with a wide variety of top Greek music ensembles throughout the East coast. He is not only a master on the clarinet, but his virtuosity allows him to perform the oud like the original Armenian masters such as Udi Hrant Kenkulian.
Michael Shimmin, albeit not Armenian (part Greek!), loves Armenian and Middle Eastern music and at a young age picked up the various ethnic percussion instruments. His understanding and appreciation of the music is essential to this recording and his feeling is heard throughout all of the songs.
The CD is close to an hour of traditional Armenian dance songs, some familiar to many that enjoy Armenian music. As I wrote on the back of the CD, the dedication:
“This album is dedicated to the countless Armenian musicians that kept our music alive. Since the Genocide, it has survived 100 years and God willing, it will never die”.
If you are interested in purchasing a copy of this CD, please click here to visit ARPMusic.com or you can download mp3 files from this site .