YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–The Armenian Navy Band–founded by the percussionist and vocalist Arto Tuncboyaciyan–is in Armenia to perform at the March 13 opening of Avant-garde Folk Music Club–and to present their latest CD–The Voice of Our Life.
The Armenian Navy Band’s compositions are all original and written by Tuncboyaciyan–who insists the pieces "have the sound of my life." This music is founded on Armenian and Anatolian musical traditions and infused with jazz and contemporary culture. Arto’s compositions embrace sounds from generations past as well as present; he calls it "avant-garde folk." As such–the Armenian Navy Band represents the synthesis of Arto’s musical journey and life experiences. "When people accept me as who I am–I feel like the World is my country," says Tuncboyaciyan.
Born to an Armenian family–Arto’s life began in Turkey–where at a very early age he became a well-known studio musician. He was the youngest in his family which lived near Istanbul–and was exposed to diverse cultures from an early age. Growing up as a member of Turkey’s beleaguered Armenian community meant that Arto and others like him were unable to explore their own cultural heritage. Although Arto’s father was a shoemaker–his brother–Onno–became a bass player and composer–and Arto soon followed in his footsteps.
He immigrated to the United States in 1981–and has since performed and recorded with an array of outstanding jazz and world music artists–including popular Greek artists such as Eleftheria Arvanitaki–as well as the Spanish guitarist Gerardo Nuez–and Joe Zawinul–Al Di Meola–Oregon–Joe Lovano–Wayne Shorter–Don Cherry–Arthur Blythe–Omar Faruk Tekbliek–Nan Vasconcelos and many others. The sudden loss of Arto’s brother Onno in a plane accident in 1996 gave birth to two albums created by Arto with Ara Dinkjian–recorded in Greece. Arto has also recorded with Dinkjian as a member of Night Ark.
The Armenian Navy Band is composed of twelve of Armenia’s finest contemporary musicians–ranging in age from 20 to 45. The instrumen’s include the traditional–duduk–zurna–kemanche–kanun–and the contemporary–trombone–alto sax–tenor–soprano sax–trumpet–bass–drums–keyboard–and piano. Together with the unique vocals and percussion and sazabo of Arto–the band’s sound is a sort of aural journey from the past to the future. Arto himself says: "The project was born in 1998 after the meeting in Yerevan with young Armenian musicians coming from different music experiences (ethnic and contemporary Armenian music)."
The band’s first European tour in February/March 2000 was successfully received in Italy–Germany–Austria–and Spain. Their next tour–later that year–included Sardinia–France–Brussels–and Holland–ending with a stop in Istanbul for the recording of the album "New Apricot" under the Turkish label "Imaj Muzik," followed by another brief tour in March 2001 and an extended European Summer/Fall tour through to November 2001.