Pianist Tigran Hamasyan Back in LA for Angel City Festival

Tigran Hamasyan

LOS ANGELES—Young piano virtuoso Tigran Hamasyan and his Tigran Quintet will return to Los Angeles to perform at the Angel City Jazz Festival, which returns to the Ford Amphitheatre on Saturday October 1.

Called “Amazing” by no less a jazz piano authority than Herbie Hancock and regarded as an absolute prodigy of his instrument, Hamasyan is a recent winner of the world-renowned Thelonious Monk Piano Competition and the Montreux Jazz Solo Competition. Originally from Armenia and living in Paris now, Hamasyan combines the folk melodies of his home country with the complexities of jazz. Described by the NY Times as “intensely searching…an intuitive force,” his quintet performance with Ben Wendel on sax, and Nate Wood on drums, both of the popular and influential group Kneebody, Sam Minaie on bass and Armenian vocalist Areni will be an energetic and visceral experience. Tigran solo CD, A Fable will be released on September 27 through top jazz label Verve.

Festival producers Rocco Somazzi and Jeff Gauthier continue to explore new and provocative avenues of creative jazz at the 4th annual Angel City Jazz Festival. The theme for the 2011 festival is Global Jam, with artists representing nine countries at seven events in six venues throughout Los Angeles. The festival centerpiece production will take place Saturday October 1 at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd East, Hollywood, CA 90068.

The Jam begins at 5 p.m. with Los Angeles’ own Pan Afrikan People’s Arkestra celebrating its 50th anniversary of furthering the legacy of iconic pianist Horace Tapscott, followed by the dynamic Japanese duo of Satoko Fujii on piano and Natsuki Tamura on trumpet at 6:15 p.m., continuing with the French progressive ensemble The Kandinsky Effect at 7 p.m., The Tigran Quintet featuring Armenian pianist Tigran Hamasyan at 8pm, and finishing with Indian saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa and Samdhi in their first west coast appearance at 9:30pm.

Tickets are $45 for adults, $18 for full-time students with ID and $12 for children 12 and under and are available at www.FordTheatres.org or 323 461-3673 (for non-visual media, 323 GO 1- FORD). Through the Ford’s early buyer incentive program, adults who buy tickets on or before September 25th pay only $40. This event is produced in association with the L.A. County Arts Commission.

Sited in the historic Cahuenga Pass in the world famous Hollywood Hills, the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre was originally known as the Pilgrimage Theatre and is one of the oldest performing arts venues in Los Angeles still in use. The Amphitheater has a rich jazz tradition which included a regular jazz series in the 1960s and 70s, and an annual Mother’s Day Jazz & Blues Extravaganza. 

Also featured on bill is the Pan Afrikan People’s Arkestra, which is a performing arts organization comprised of instrumentalists, vocalists, dancers, writers, and teachers. The “ARK”, as it is affectionately known, was formed in the Los Angeles area in the early 1960’s by the late composer/ pianist, Horace Tapscott. Under the musical direction of saxophonist Michael Session, the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra has featured world renowned musicians such as pianist Nate Morgan, bassist Roberto Miranda, saxophonist Azar Lawrence, and trumpeter Steven Smith. This unique musical ensemble is the realization of Mr. Tapscott’s vision of developing and showcasing the extraordinary talents of artists from the local community. Currently under the direction of lead vocalist extraordinaire Dwight Trible, Great Voices of Union of God’s Musicians and Artists Ascension Choir speaks as one voice for the community, in truth and love. These two musical entities combine to preserve Mr. Tapscott’s ultimate vision of a community-based group of artists dedicated to performing and preserving the original compositions of Pan-African artists throughout the world. Today’s performance marks the 50th anniversary of The Ark.

Satoko Fujii is one of the most original voices in jazz today. Half of an impressionistic husband and wife piano & trumpet duo from Tokyo, Japan, she is a “virtuoso piano improviser, an original composer and a band-leader who gets the best collaborators to deliver,” says John Fordham in The Guardian. In concert and on over thirty-five albums as a leader or co-leader, the Tokyo resident synthesizes jazz, contemporary classical, avant-rock and Japanese folk music into an innovative music, instantly recognizable as hers alone. Her spouse Natsuki Tamura has an active performing career split between his homeland and the United States. He has been widely recognized for his unique and accomplished sound and has been compared with players as diverse as Lester Bowie, Miles Davis, and Freddie Hubbard. He has been featured worldwide at festivals including the 1998 Texaco New York Jazz Festival in a solo trumpet performance, Newport Jazz in Madarao, Japan Jazz Aid, Yokohama Jazz, Yatsugatake Jazz, Kobe Jazz, and Hibiya Jazz, as well as in clubs such as the Knitting Factory in New York, the Carnival Jazz Club, Babel 2nd, and Pit Inn in Tokyo, Airgin in Yokohama, and the Willow Jazz Club in Boston, among others.

The Kandinsky Effect is a post-modern jazz Trio searching for new ways to improvise within the jazz idiom by blending the borders of jazz, rock, electronic, hip-hop, and experimental sounds to create a truly singular voice within instrumental music. Improvisation is ever-present, and spontaneity is paramount. The band has been touring extensively throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe over the last few years building new audiences with an adventurous yet accessible sound and a flair for the unexpected. As the Los Angeles Times puts it “The young Paris-based trio, The Kandinsky Effect, offers an invigorating approach to modern jazz improvisation.”

Composer, Guggenheim fellow and 2011 Downbeat International Critics Poll “Alto Sax Player of the Year,” Rudresh Mahanthappa is one of the most innovative musicians in jazz today, fusing the musical culture of his Indian ancestry and jazz with myriad other influences to create a groundbreaking artistic vision. In Sanskrit, Samdhi means “that which combines or unites” or “the interval between day and night.” In more traditional Hindu terms, it refers to the period between the end of one age and the dawn of another. For Rudresh this project represents a new direction in combing the complex melodic and rhythmic elements of both South Indian music and the traditions of jazz within an electro-acoustic format consisting of alto saxophone with electronics, electric guitar, electric bass, and drums. A direct result, of his research as a Guggenheim fellow, this new work will deeply engage the listener while breaking new ground in the multicultural landscape of modern music. Mahanthappa’s Samdhi album will be released on September 27, 2011 through Act Music.

About The Angel City Jazz Festival
Angel City Arts proudly announces the lineup for the 2011 ANGEL CITY JAZZ FESTIVAL September 22 – October 2, 2011. The theme for the fourth annual festival is Global Jam, with artists representing eight countries at seven events in six venues throughout Los Angeles.

The festival venues include LACMA, REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater), The John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, Zipper Hall, The Echoplex, and The Blue Whale. Some of the artists performing at the festival include Armenian pianist and Thelonius Monk competition winner Tigran Hamasyan, Indian saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, the African ensemble Burkina Electric with percussionist Lukas Ligeti and special guest D.J. Spooky, Colombian harpist Edmar Castaneda, German vocalist Theo Bleckmann, French artists The Kandinsky Effect, the Australian trio The Necks, and a tribute to Art Ensemble of Chicago legend Roscoe Mitchell and a performance by his trio in celebration of his 71st birthday.

For more information, please contact info@angelcityjazz.com.

About The Ford Amphitheatre
The Ford Amphitheatre is located at 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Hollywood, CA 90068, just off the 101 Hollywood Freeway across from the Hollywood Bowl and south of Universal Studios. The grounds open two hours before showtime for picnicking. The Ford offers a number of dining options: a variety of food and beverages is available on site and box dinners for evening events may be ordered in advance. Patrons are welcome to bring their own food and drink.

The Ford is disabled accessible. Portable wireless listening devices are available upon request. On-site, stacked parking costs $5 per vehicle for evening shows and $1 per vehicle for morning family shows. For evening shows only, FREE non-stacked parking serviced by a FREE shuttle to the Ford, for evening amphitheatre performances only, is available at the Universal City Metro Station lot at Lankershim Blvd. and Campo de Cahuenga. The shuttle, which cycles every 15-20 minutes, stops in the “kiss and ride” area.

This event is part of the Ford Amphitheatre 2011 Season, a multi-disciplinary arts series produced by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission in cooperation with Los Angeles County-based arts organizations.

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