LOS ANGELES–The romantic tremble of the Armenian duduk echoed alongside the sonic vistas of Michael Brook Friday evening as the two legendary composers reunited at UCLA’s historic Royce Concert Hall with a sublime yet provacative performance to commemorate their upcoming second album.
The nights concert began with solo performances by the 80-year-old Gasparyan and his gran’son, also named Djivan. The duo introduced the sold out LA venue to the traditional scores of the Armenian Highland. While Brook and his wife, violinist Julie Rogers, played a series of experimental arrangemen’s consisting primarily of a violin quartet, keyboards, light drums, and electric guitars. As always Brook’s dazzled the audience with the evocative echo of his "Infiniate Guita."
Highlighting the evening was a collaborative performance featuring hits from their last project, Black Rock, as well as world premier music from the duo’s new album Penumbra. For almost an hour, Gasparyan and Brook fused the sounds of two worlds, as they brought a contemporary edge to the ancient mystery that characterizes Gasparyan’s music.
The two legends began working together in the early 90s to produce Moon Shines at Night, an album that spotlighted Gasparyan’s soothing vocals. Five years later, the Canadian producer/guitarist and the master of the Armenian duduk joined for a full collaboration album. Released in 1998, Black Rock featured the two maestros and was hailed by The New York Times as "a record of dazzling eclecticism and uncommon soulfulness."
England’s Q magazine calls the collaboration "a near perfect meld of the ethnic and the technological," while the Independent adds that "in Gasparyan’s expert hands, [the duduk] possesses a deceptively malleable tone, gliding smoothly between notes to lend a heady, seductive sway to the eight pieces which comprise Black Rock." Brook, continued the Independent, "unerringly locates the inner rhythms of pieces like ‘To The River’ and ‘Take My Heart’ with hand percussion and repetitive guitar figures."
Born in 1928 in Solag, Armenia, Gasparyan is considered to be his nation’s greatest living musician. He is a master of the ancient Armenian duduk, a cylindrical double reed flute made of apricot wood dating back to the fifth century. He began playing the instrument at the age of 6, then joined the Tatool Altounian National Song and Dance Ensemble in 1948 and later joined the Yerevan Philharmonic Orchestra as a soloist. Gasparyan has extensively toured Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the US and has released over a dozen solo and collaborative albums over the years, while also working on the soundtracks of movies such as "Ronin,"Gladiator", "Syriana" and "Blood Diamond."
In 2007 he was nominated for the 2007 Grammy Award for a cross-culture collaboration with Iranian musician Hossein Alizadeh called Endless Vision. For the last thirty some years, he has been traveling between Armenia and Southern California, performing concerts, teaching at Yerevan’s Conservatory, and training his gran’son Djivan to follow in his footsteps.
For his 80th birthday, the Government of Armenia has planned concert celebrations in his honor and will be erecting a statue of him in the central square of Yerevan.
Alongside Gasparyan, Brook also stands as a musical icon. A renowned world musician and musical innovator, he is the inventor of the "Infinite Guitar," an instrument which allows him to hold notes from an electric guitar without limit. Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Brook studied music at York University, and for the past 25 years, has been forging a unique musical path, inspired by scientific curiosity, a passion for the guitar, and a deep interest in music from all over the world. Brook is famous for his collaboration with the late Pakistani qawwali giant Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and he recently composed the score as well as produced the soundtrack of Al Gore’s documentary on global warming, "A Inconvenient Truth."
"The Collaboration of Gasparyan and Brook was almost meant to be, as if the universe had intended it," says Los Angeles City Zine writer Liana Aghajanian. "In an industry where there are so many manufactured artists and music, Brook and Gasparyan are a breath of fresh air."