The Armenian State Jazz Band direct successor of the first jazz orchestra in the whole South Caucasus, founded by talented composers and musicians Artemi Ayvazyan and Tsolak Vardazaryan by the order of the Government of the Republic of Armenia in 1938. The outstanding composer succeeded in creating a wonderful band, which would later be admired on the whole territory of the USSR. The basis of the band’s repertoire was the national folk music, which singled out the band among others.
In 1956 the leadership of the orchestra was entrusted to young and talented pianist and composer Konstantin Orbelian, who became its art director and conductor. A new era opened in the life of the orchestra. Numerous concert tours (the orchestra visited 40 countries), TV appearances, album records made it one of the most popular bands in the country. In 1975 the orchestra was the first among the Soviet jazz collectives to visit the native land of jazz, the USA. In the years of perestroika and economic crisis, the band ceased its existence. However, in 1997, several years after Armenia became an independent country, talented musician, composer and remarkable arranger Armen Martirosyan became the reformed band’s new conductor and art director. Saxophonist Armen Hyusnunts, winner of many jazz festivals became the musical director of the band, while Artur Asatryan became its producer.
Being highly professional, the young band members have great interest in modern interpretations and arrangements. Building on the glorious achievements and traditions, they were able to find their unique style based on Armenian national roots. The orchestra frequently performs both in Armenia and abroad: in the USA (200, 2001), Russia (2001, 2006), etc. In 2000 the band took part in the Second International Jazz Festival, Yerevan-2000, during which the band had the chance to perform together with contemporary jazz legend, pianist, composer and arranger Chick Corea.
In 2001 the band recorded its first album, “Mountain Dance”, which was awarded as the Best Jazz Fusion Album at the annual Armenian Music Awards ceremony in the United States in November 2001. Commenting on the album, Chick Corea said: “This music is alive and unique, adventurous and beautiful.”
In 2002 the band participated in the Jazz Appreciation Month, a festival organized by the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Armenia and hosting professional performers from Armenia and the USA.
2006 saw the band performing in Moscow during the Days of Armenian Culture in Russia.
On April 20, 2007, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of orchestra’s revival the Ministry of Culture and Youth Affairs awarded Armen Martirosyan and Artur Asatryan with gold medals for their contribution to music.
In 2008 during the National Music Awards ceremony, the Armenian State Jazz Band was named Best Jazz Band of the year.
In fall of 2010 Armen Hyusnunts replaced Armen Martirosyan and filled the post of art director of the State Jazz Band.
Nowadays the band’s repertoire embraces a variety of thematic programs. The band has three solo albums under its belt:
“Armenia Big Band”