WILLIAMSBURG, Brooklyn — At 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 9, music enthusiasts entered the unobtrusive but historically classic Opera House on Berry Street. The beautiful chandeliers, original architecture from 1911 and a large stage with details that exude the grandeur of the 1800s create an aura perfect for immersing oneself in the music of the star of the night, Tigran Hamasyan. The space is filling up quickly and everyone is eager for the man of the night to get on stage and put us in a musical trance.
Hamasyan is an Armenian jazz pianist and composer. His work crosses boundaries between jazz and Armenian folkloric music from his native Armenia. He’s one of the most remarkable and distinctive jazz-meets-rock-meets-classical pianists of his generation, which explains why there wasn’t a single empty seat left by the time it hit 8 p.m. And true to his reputation, he had the audience in the palm of his hands.
Hamasyan was born in 1987 in Gyumri, Armenia. His current day success and esteemed reputation stems from the age of three, when he started playing piano. He was enrolled in music at age six and discovered classic jazz at age 10. Tigran studied for 10 years at the Tchaikovsky Specialized Music Academy in Armenia, accompanied by classical jazz studies. By age 18, Hamasyan recorded his first album, “World Passion.” His music has evolved over the years but his improvisational and valiant approach, striving for his compositions to feel classic and eternal, has been a constant.
Hamasyan arrives on stage and everyone is cheering with excitement. Accompanying him is Matt Brewer on the bass and Jeremy Dutton on drums. The trio are here to perform Hamasyan’s 10th studio album, “StandArt,” as part of his seven-city North American tour. Incredible energy and rhythmic flow exude from each musician, pouring all their energy into each set. The contrast between the piano and the bass and drums gives the music a perfect harmony of tension. To think it couldn’t get any better, the show ended with a special guest playing the saxophone. The quartet brought an electric joy and masterful jazz improvisation to the stage, an experience the crowd is sure to remember.
Produced by Hamasyan, “StandArt” includes songs from the 1920s through the 1950s by Charlie Parker, Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern, Elmo Hope, and others, plus a piece Hamasyan improvised with Brewer, Brown, and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire with guest appearances by saxophonists Joshua Redman and Mark Turner. “StandArt” is Hamasyan’s first release of American music, having previously only released original compositions and traditional Armenian music.