19 December 2009
Malkhas Jazz Club
Yesterday was Jarred's 28th birthday, and to celebrate, we went out to his favorite jazz club in town, Malkhas (Nathan stayed home with our nanny). Jarred has been there several times with friends, but this was my first visit. How was it, you ask? The desserts and drinks were pretty good, and though we came home reeking of cigars, the place wasn't actually that smoky. But what about the music? I don't have many words to describe it... I guess my rating falls somewhere between extraordinary and transcendent.
Here's a sample:
All the musicians were unbelievably talented. The first band played a mix of jazz and Dixieland standards, folk-rock and pop covers, and original/improv 12-bar blues in four fabulous sets; I especially liked their rendition of Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely?" Yet even their original compositions were peppered with homages to Gershwin, the Beatles, and one-hit-wonders The Champs ("Tequila!"). I don't know which I enjoyed more: the fast-paced numbers or the slow, soulful harmonica solos. Regrettably, my camera battery died before I could record this first band's final performance of the evening, which showcased the harmonicist's impressive technique during a lively call-and-response with the pianist.
We stayed at the club long enough to enjoy the first set of the second band, whose vocalist sang a passionate "Besame Mucho," followed by "Take Five," in which he performed the melody -- and the supporting parts during the instrumentalists' solos -- entirely in scat! This second group played much more sophisticated, modern jazz arrangements than the first band. Toward the end of their set, club owner and namesake Levon Malkhasian cut in to show off his own utterly astounding jazz piano skills (a common occurrence, according to Jarred). What makes someone a virtuoso? If that man doesn't qualify, then I don't know who does! Again, I regret not coming to the club prepared with a fully-charged camera battery.
If you're ever in Yerevan, don't pass up the opportunity meet some of Armenia's most outstanding musicians at Malkhas. And if you do go, give us a call so we can come with you! For us, last night's show was a wonderful experience well worth repeating.
By the way, if you want to watch more of what I did manage to record, visit our YouTube page or simply do a search for Malkhas Jazz Club videos.