Vahagni to Perform at Joe’s Jazz Series in Venice

Vahagni performs at last month's Armenian Cultural Foundation's Gala

LOS ANGELES—The Armenian jazz ensemble Vahagni will perform at the Vanice Beach’s Joe’s Restaurant monthly jazz series to coincide with the First Friday’s Art Walk. Mohr Music will present the First Fridays Jazz Series at Joe’s featuring instrumental and vocal artists, internationally recognized players as well as great local talent, signed and unsigned, playing on the heated patio.

The April 6 First Fridays Jazz Series installment kicks off at 7 p.m. with jazz, flamenco and world music guitarist Vahagni. He will be joined by drummer Zach Harmon and cellist Artyom Manukyan.

Joe’s Restaurant, is Abbot Kinney’s original fine dining experience where farmer’s market ingredients meet California-French cuisine in a comfortable neighborhood atmosphere in Venice Beach. It’s monthly jazz series have become legendary in Los Angeles.

Vahagni, a true original voice in instrumental music blends flamenco, jazz, and world music to create his unique style. He records for the E One label, home to Bela Fleck and other notable artists. Born into a family of artists in Yerevan, Armenia, Vahagn ”Vahagni” Turgutyan’s musical development was nourished by his father – a guitar soloist for the National Philharmonic of Armenia, his mother – an actress, and his uncle – the National Artistic Director of Armenia.

At a young age, Vahagni was captivated by flamenco music. Many years of study with his father prepared him to embark on the first of many visits to Andalusia, Spain where he studied with flamenco master Paco Serrano. Vahagni performed numerous festivals in Andalusia. During the Cursos Superior del Guitarra Flamenca held in Malaga, he performed for his childhood idol, legendary flamenco guitarist, Manolo Sanlucar. He impressed the maestro, who took Vahagni under his wing, to study as his disciple.

Vahagni’s first album Short Stories featured Jimmy Branly, Carlitos del Puerto and Luis Conte, and was the winner of “best guitar album of the year” at the 2010 Armenian Music Awards. In April of 2011, Vahagni recorded his second album entitled Solitude with Tigran Hamasyan on piano, Artyom Manukyan on cello, Hamilton Price on bass, Jimmy Branly on drums & percussion and a guest appearance by Gerardo Morales on percussion and palmas. The album is scheduled to be released on the E ONE music label this month.  Solitude is a ground breaking release which introduces Vahangi not only as a composer and guitar virtuoso but a pioneer in new world music. The album breaks traditional boundaries, mixing multiple ingredients to captivate listeners of all ages and walks of life.

Zack Harmon is a Grammy award-winning musician. Originally from Wisconsin, he was born into a musical family, and began studying classical piano at age three. At 15 he was given a drum set and thus began a lifelong pursuit. In 2003, Zach toured Japan as well as playing the Monterey Jazz Festival with the Clifford Brown/Stan Getz All-Stars. Zach attended the Thornton School of Music at USC and studied with noted drummer Terri Lyne Carrington. He transferred to the Masters program at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and studied with jazz legends Ron Carter, Jimmy Heath and Benny Golson. In 2005, he toured on a cultural mission through Vietnam with Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock. In 2007, he again toured with Shorter and Hancock, this time throughout India. Zack also studied with tabla master Abhiman Kaushai, and recorded tabla on Terence Blanchard’s A Tale of God’s Will. The Blue Note release was dedicated to the events of Hurricane Katrina and all the players won Grammys for appearing on this “Best Large Jazz Ensemble” album winner.

Artyom Manukyan is a classically trained cellist and is a passionate musician and producer. He is an advocate for the versatility and relevance of the cello, not only in a classical setting but in contemporary music – pop, hip-hop and jazz. As a partner in a production company called New People in Yerevan, Armenia, Artyom has been creating arrangements for some of Armenia’s biggest hip hop and pop stars, includig Hay Tgheq and Inga & Anush. Although it’s unorthodox for a classically trained cellist to branch into hip-hop, pop and jazz, contemporary music has been a driving force in Manukyan’s creative life as far back as he remembers. His latest project is a jazz quartet called Nooz, where he presents virtuosic cello performance in a highly technical, modern context. From baroque to hip hop to jazz, he continues to stretch his musical boundaries.

Joe’s Restaurant is located at 1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice, CA 90291. Reservations are made by calling 310-399-5811 and are strongly recommended as patio seating is limited. The music begins at 7pm and ends at 11pm. The artists will play three or four sets. There is no cover charge for the music, but dinner orders are required for table seating. Joe’s will give a complimentary glass of wine, with dinner, for 6-7pm reservations. There is valet parking, a paid parking lot, and street parking.

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