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Tigran - 'Shadow Theater' (Out in the US Finally)

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH

Around the tail end of last year, we made a lot of to-do about the latest album from pianist Tigran (Hamasyan, but he's going by just one name because he's cool like that), Shadow Theater, which was released internationally on the Verve label, but not in the US. When he stopped in Austin, Texas, as part of a US tour, Americans could only get a glimpse of this album from the then recent release of the The Poet EP. Finally, Shadow Theater is getting a US release on Sunnyside Records on April 15th.

Shadow Theater is a melange of sounds that fit together like an exquisite tapestry woven with care. Electronic glitches crackle over Armenian lyrics soulfully sung along with this expansive band including saxophonist Ben Wendel, bassist Chris Tordini (who also tours with Hamasyan in his trio alongside drummer Arthur Hnatek), vocalist Areni Agbabian, and others. They've got bite, all under the 2006 Thelonious Monk piano competition winner's well-written compositions, but Nate Wood's drumming certainly doesn't hurt. There's a throttle that charges ahead and steadily stays on your mind how much you're chugging along just because Wood never seems to let up. Thus, with a masterful melding of jazz, pop, rock, and Armenian folk songs, Shadow Theater barrells along jauntily, swinging between sweet tinkling and raucously banging on "Erishta", evoking head bobs with "Drip", taking every possible turn through "The Court Jester", and breaks down the house altogether in the two part songs "The Collapse" and "Alternate Universe". It's an amazing album that definitely has earned the love and affection of music fans around the world and will at long last find its place in the States.

Tigran Hamasyan - piano , keyboards
Areni Agbabian - vocals
Ben Wendel - saxophone
Sam Minaie - bass
Chris Tordini - bass
Nate Wood - drums
Jean-Marc Phillips Varjabedian - violin
Xavier Phillips - cello
Jan Bang - programming
David Kiledjian - programming

Shadow Theater is available for pre-order now at iTunes and out April 15th. His U.S. tour featuring his trio of bassist Chris Tordini and drummer Arthur Hnatek starts off next Tuesday in Austin, Texas, for the album's US release date. Check out this trio if they're heading your way.

Apr 15 - The Belmont - Austin, TX
Apr 16 - UNT - Denton, TX
Apr 17 - UNT - Denton, TX
Apr 18 - Oriental Theater - Denver, CO
Apr 19 - Oberlin College - Oberlin, OH
Apr 22 - Alex Theater - Los Angeles, CA
Apr 23 - Alberta Rose Theater - Portland, OR

Apr 26 - Katowice Jazz Art Festival - Katowice, Poland
May 03 - Cheltenham Festivals - Cheltenham, United Kingdom