Martha Elefteriadu ‎– Kresby Tuší (1980)

Welcome back to you all! Needless to say, how thrill I am today with this spectacular album, a real kaleidoscope of genres brought you by one of the greatest artists in former Czechoslovakia. Getting to know her better, unfortunately, I noticed that this album was an odd point of alternation in its career, founded basically on Soul Beat and then Pop Folk.

Always side by side with her beloved sister, this unique solo entry has brought us so many colors that I wonder why she gave up on this very bold path. Anyhow, we present this one that should be revered as one of the milestone records from former Czechoslovakia and as if an entire constellation of musicians was not enough, its richness is present, in the arrangements, special participations, multiple orchestras, and lush atmosphere!

Does it look good to you? Because it is much more than you can imaginePřipravit Se!

Let’s go to our artist:

The Elefteriadu’s – the 50s

Martha Elefteriadu (September 12, 1946 Bulkes, Yugoslavia) is a Czech singer of Greek origin, half of the duo Martha a Tena, together with her sister Tena. Their family emigrated from Greece because of the Greek Civil War and settled in 1950 in former Czechoslovakia. Their mother died while they were children, so they grew up in orphanages, she spent her childhood with her sister, in many children‘s homes (more than five, actually), which were reserved for Greek refugees, including one in Ivančice.

At the end of the 1960s, the sisters met a guitarist Aleš Sigmund from band Vulkán, who helped them create strong creative and musical foundations. They worked in Vulkán between 1966 and 1970, partly with another sibling couple, Hana and Petr Ulrych.

Martha A Tena – 1969

Their first records are from 1968, in 1970 they released their first LP record with Panton Records Dál Než Slunce Vstává. They quickly established themselves in Czech Pop music also collaborating with many notable artists such as Skupina Aleše Sigmunda, Bob Frídl, Gustav Brom Orchestra, Pavel Novák, and Jiří Suchý. The gals managed to continuously be active reaching stardom throughout the 1970s with countless participations and prizes at festivals, musicals, plays, TV shows, and tours not only within Czechoslovakia. (!)

Live, in the 70s

By the end of the decade, they had already released more than 30 albums and compacts! Ranging between pop-folk and Greek music. Martha later studied psychology, while at the same time devoted yourself professionally to music, since then, both sisters have been the stars of Czech popular music. Martha and Tena enriched Czech culture with their southern temperament and Greek spontaneity. At present, they focus mainly on the interpretation of Greek folk songs, the teaching of Greek dances, cuisine, books and occasionally performing, their latest album came out in 2005, besides greatest hits records and such.

Let’s go to our album:

Sister Love

How to understand a record that did not have a tour, who faced major problems with the censorship, and with modest participation in sales charts could bear the 1981 album of the year by Melodia magazine? Despite all these, (at least the critics seem to get it by the time) Kresby Tuší (Ink Drawings) remains intact by the passage of time thanks to its multiple composers, lyricists, orchestras (!) and gala participation of musicians like Michael Kocáb (arranger), but also by Dežo Ursiny, Vladimír Mišík, Vladimír Merta and Oskar Petr.

Martha delivers us a fabulous variation of art-rock, jazz, fusion, bossa nova, funk and more. It feels lush, dark and dense all over, but it also has its (brief) sunny moments.

The ‘IM’ highlights are Hrál Sis Hrál and Vítám Slunce Ranní.

Tracks Include:

A1 Dvě Kresby Tuší I.
Lyrics By: Pavel Kopta
Music By: Michael Kocáb

A2 Měla Jsem Vždycky Smůlu
Lyrics By: Pavel Kopta
Music By: Dežo Ursiny

A3 Proměna
Lyrics By: Pavel Kopta
Music By: Vladimír Mišík

A4 Hrál Sis Hrál
Lyrics By: Pavel Fiala
Music By: Pavel Větrovec

A5 Výlet Po Řece
Lyrics By: Pavel Kopta
Music By: Michael Kocáb

A6 Kde? Kdy? Já A Ty
Written By: Vladimír Merta

B1 Mám Ráda Běh
Lyrics By: Pavel Kopta
Music By: Michael Kocáb

B2 Melancholická Noc
Lyrics By: Jiří Dědeček
Music By: Michael Kocáb

B3 Vítám Slunce Ranní
Lyrics By: Pavel Kopta
Music By: Dežo Ursiny

B4 Podzimní Odpoledne
Lyrics By: Martha Elefteriadu
Music By: Michael Kocáb

B5 Tohle Že Máš Být Ty?
Lyrics By: Martha Elefteriadu
Music By: Michael Kocáb

B6 Dvě Kresby Tuší II.
Lyrics By: Pavel Kopta
Music By: Michael Kocáb

Musicians

Acoustic Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals: Vladimír Merta (tracks: A6)
Bass Guitar, Contrabass: Ondřej Soukup
Drums: Ladislav Malina, Vratislav Placheta
Electric Piano, Piano, Synthesizer: Michael Kocáb
Guitar: Jiří Špidra, Martin Koubek
Percussion: Jiří Tomek
Harmonica: Ondřej Konrád

Backing Band (Studiová Skupina): Studiová Skupina Michaela Kocába

Oboe: Jiří Kaniak
Flute: Jiří Stivín
Clarinet: František Pušman
Alto Saxophone: Antonín Nachtman,  Miroslav Krýsl
Baritone Saxophone: František Kryka
Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone: Jan Kubík
Tenor Saxophone: Bedřich Kuník, Milan Ulrich
Trombone: Jiří Doubrava, Josef Pavelka, Mirko Koželuh, Svatopluk Košvanec
Trumpet: Jiří Hlava, Laco Deczi, Vlastimil Voňavka, Zdeněk Šedivý

Strings: Jan Mráček, Jiří Fišer, Jiří Rajniš, Květomír Řezníček
Strings, Orchestra: Smyčcový Orchestr Oliver Dohnányi
Violin: Jan Hrubý

Vocals: Dežo Ursiny (tracks: B3),
Hana Hostková-Löfflerová (tracks: A2),
Helena Viktorinová (tracks: B5),
Lída Nopová (tracks: A2), Marie Jakoubková (tracks: A2, B5),
Michael Kocáb (tracks: B1), Tena Elefteriadu (tracks: B3)

Conductor (Smyčcový Orchestr Řídí): Oliver Dohnányi

Arranged By: Michael Kocáb

Credits

Cover: Václav Šimice
Engineer: Jan Štěpánek, Petr Podlešák
Photography By: Taras Kuščynskyj
Producer: Ondřej Konrád
Recording Supervisor: Pavel Kühn, Svatoslav Rychlý

Notes

Panton ‎– 8113 0039

Record Company: Panton, Vydavatelství Českého Hudebního Fondu
Recorded At: Studio Smetanova Divadla
Pressed By: Gramofonové Závody

Nahráno ve studiu Smetanova divadla v Praze, 1979—1980

Dnešek

The Markko Polo Adventurers ‎– Orienta (1959)

We’ve already got a little good share of Exotica here in the ‘IM’, you can easily go for Yma, Russ, and Dominic for your exquisite delight! But I think we should talk a little bit more about it since its one of my fav genres, always with some magical cover and a fantastic vibe from faraway, today’s album is no different so let’s get a ticket to the (wild) East.

Let’s go to our history:

Exotica is a form of easy-listening lounge music that draws upon world music, but it doesn’t aim for authentic replication. Instead, exotica’s primary concern is lightweight entertainment, gathering readily identifiable ethnic sounds into a smooth, easily digested pop form. The music typically conjures up images of exotic foreign tourist destinations geared toward white Americans, and in that sense, it’s sort of the equivalent of a pre-packaged resort vacation: fun, inauthentic, and safely familiar. (!)

1958 Fire Goddess

Exotica is usually arranged for standard orchestras, with instrumentation added according to the location being evoked (ethnic percussion, string instruments, etc.); some exotica also borrows the otherworldly sound effects that define the space-age pop style. The Pacific, the Caribbean, Latin America, Brazil, and Africa are among exotica’s most popular regional musical sources, major exotica artists include Les Baxter, Martin Denny, Arthur Lyman, Eden Ahbez, Gene Rains, Esquivel, Yma Sumac and many more.

Let’s go to our artist:

Orienta was the work of three music industry professionals with a history of involvement in exotica and easy listening music. Producer Simon Rady was coming off the huge success of The Music from Peter Gunn, which spent 10 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s album chart, and won the inaugural Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1959. Associate producer Michael H. Goldsen was one of the industry leaders in popularizing Hawaiian music and was later inducted into the (legendary) Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame.

Debra Paget in Fritz Lang’s The Indian Tomb

The album was arranged and conducted by Gerald Fried, a Juilliard School-trained oboist who later went on to fame as a composer of music for motion pictures and television, including the 1960s series Star TrekThe Man from U.N.C.L.E., and Gilligan’s Island.

Orienta was an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of exotica music in the late 1950s. The genre’s popularity peaked in 1959 as Martin Denny’s 1957 album Exotica spent five weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s album chart. The album was recorded in stereo and was designed to appeal to the growing popularity of albums demonstrating the new technology. It features a wide assortment of woodwind and rhythm instruments as the liner notes describe a recording studio filled with as many as 25 percussion instruments.

Sandy Warner, 1959

Let’s go to our album:

The album’s liner notes stated that:

”The music resembles the dreams of an imaginative person who has fallen asleep during a ‘Dr. Fu Manchu’ movie on television, with vignettes that combine the sounds of the East with the wit of the West; the charm of the Orient with the humor of the Occident.”

A lost lounge gem from the RCA catalog, with a dreamy exotica feeling, Gerald Fried arranged and conducted this faux (studio) group, and his overall approach has lots of sweeping woodwinds and percussion, similar to the great Les Baxter work on Capitol during the period. The tracks have a pronounced Eastern feel including original compositions and adaptations from Rimsky-Korsakov, Harry Warren, and Vernon Duke.

The ‘IM’ highlights are Rain in Rangoon and Mountain High, Valley Low.

Tracks Include:

A1 Song Of India-Beggars’ Procession
Arranged By: Gerald Fried
Composed By: Rimsky-Korsakoff

A2 Yokahama Ferryboat
Composed By: Leon Pober

A3 Rain In Rangoon
Composed By: Vèrnon Duke

A4 Madam Sloe Gin’s
Composed By: Leon Pober

A5 The Girl Friend Of A Whirling Dervish
Composed By – Dubin, Warren, Mercer

A6 Mountain High, Valley Low
Composed By: Bernard Hanighen, Raymond Scott

B1 Scheherazade
Arranged By: Gerald Fried
Composed By: Rimsky-Korsakoff

B2 Limehouse Blues
Composed By: D. Furber, P. Braham

B3 Night Of The Tiger
Composed By: Leon Pober

B4 Nagasaki
Composed By: H. Warren, M. Dixon

B5 Train To Ranchipur
Composed By: Gerald Fried

B6 Runaway Rickshaw
Composed By: Leon Pober

Credits

Arranged By: Gerald Fried
Conductor: Gerald Fried
Co-producer (Associate): Michael H. Goldsen
Producer: Simon Rady
Recorded By (Engineer): Thorne Nogar

Notes

Recorded in Hollywood, California, May 15, 21 and 31 and June 6, 1958

Gerald Fried, Alive and Kicking

Dominic Frontiere and His Orchestra – Pagan Festival: An Exotic Love Ritual For Orchestra (1959)

Together with Yma Sumac’s exquisite records, Russ Garcia’s Fantastica, and the unknown The Markko Pollo Adventures self titled album, our today entry comes with great passion, a personal favorite in the Exotica and Space Age Pop universe. You can check a dossier about the subject here, and with our last entries highlighted on top! We believe that the milestone works from Martin Denny and famous arranger Les Baxter are truly amazing, though due to the high commercial appeal and large number of releases, the musical developments became to dilute throughout the years, climaxing with the death of the genre in the mid-60’s.

folder cópia

Together with Yma Sumac’s exquisite records, Russ Garcia’s Fantastica, and the unknown The Markko Pollo Adventures self titled album, our today entry comes with great passion, a personal favorite in the Exotica and Space Age Pop universe. You can check a dossier about the subject here, and with our last entries highlighted on top! We believe that the milestone works from Martin Denny and famous arranger Les Baxter are truly amazing, though due to the high commercial appeal and large number of releases, the musical developments became to dilute throughout the years, climaxing with the death of the genre in the mid60’s.

Nevertheless, expect to encounter ‘Hypnotique’ and ‘The Passions’ here soon!

Let’s go to our artist:

Dominic Frontiere
Dominic Frontiere

Dominic Frontiere (17 June 1931, New Haven, Connecticut) grew up in a musical family, learning several instruments before adopting the accordion as his main focus. He proved a prodigy, and was travelling to New York for lessons with accordion virtuoso Joseph Biviano at 7 and performing solo at Carnegie Hall at the age of 12. From an early age, its interest in music went beyond just performing, though, and he studied classical music, arranging, and composition through high school and after!

He joined Horace Heidt’s big band in 1949, replacing accordion star Dick Contino and becoming lead arranger as well. He left Heidt in 1952 and moved to Hollywood, where he studied with Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco at UCLA and with violinist and studio conductor Felix SlatkinFrontiere was then, taken under the wing of Alfred Newman, music director at 20th Century-Fox studios, and his brother, famous film composer Lionel Newman, who soon had him working on a variety of scoring jobs.

Alfred Newman
Alfred Newman

Frontiere experimented several novelties from his studio work, one was an album for Columbia, Pagan Festival, that is now recalled fondly as one of the prime examples of true exotica. One suspects that he ran Yma Sumac’s albums for a few spins while conceiving on the pieces on this work, which feature titles as ‘Jaguar God’Venus Girl’, with subtitles recalling Mayan or Inca language, as Ixtab, and Tampu-Anca.

Dominic has concentrated on composing for films/television since the early ’60s. His scoring credits include such films as Hang ‘Em High, Incubus, Chisum, The Train Robbers, Brannigan, and The Stunt Man. On television, he composed the theme for the aliens-are-among-us series, The Invaders, science fiction The Outer Limits, and also The Fugitive, The Flying Nun, BrandedMovin’ Onamongst many others.

1968 Film Poster
1968 OST

Along with Art Van Damme and Johnny Hamlin, he ranks among the leading (and only) jazz accordionists, with an active career until the ’90s. Recently many of its soundtracks were available in cd re-releases, where you can check it out here!

Let’s go to our album:

The liner notes on the back cover spoke of the music’s “interpretation of ancient Inca rituals, superstitions, and the romance and mysteries of their colorful civilization“, but the blending of musical styles was not limited to that of the ancient Latin American culture (if anyone knew what that would sound like!). Frontiere let his imagination run wild, and he brought in sounds from the South Pacific to Eastern Europe, e.g.

1963/64 OST
1963/64 OST

So, here a female choir wafted in and out along with string sections, brasses, and reeds, creating a patchwork quilt that somehow held together. Frontiere‘s music charmed like an entertaining Hollywood score for a movie set in some faraway place, it may not have been historically accurate, but it was a lot of fun to listen to, jouir!

The ‘IM’ highlights are House of Dawn (Paccari-Tampu) and Venus Girl (IX-Koben).

Lastly, this is an exclusive release, เดินทางที่ดี!

Tracks Include:

A1 Festival

A2 House of Dawn (Paccari-Tampu)

A3 Temple of Suicide (Ixtab)

A4 Moon Goddess (Ixchel)

A5 Time of Sunshine (Yaxkin)

A6 Goddess of Love (X-Tabai)

B1 House of Pleasure (Tampu-Anca)

B2 The Harvest (Zax)

B3 Corn Festival (Zabacil Than)

B4 God of Seasons (Kukulkan)

B5 Jaguar God (Balam)

B6 Venus Girl (IX-Koben)

Credits

  • Artwork: Irene Trivas
  • Composed, Conductor: Dominic Frontiere

Columbia ‎– CL 1273

Beltrane Fire Festival
Beltrane Fire Festival

Alla Pugacheva (Алла Пугачева) – Mirror of the Soul (Зеркало Души) [1978]

capaThe ’60s and ’70s saw the beginning of modern Russian pop and rock music, it all started with the wave of VIA’s (vocal-instrumental ensemble), a specific sort of music bands performing radio-friendly pop, rock, and folk, composed by members of the Union of Composers, approved by censorship. This wave began with Pojuschie Gitary and Pesnyary, popular VIA bands also included Tcvety and Zemlyane.

That period also saw individual pop stars such as Iosif Kobzon, Sofia Rotaru, Alla Pugacheva, Valery Leontiev, Yuri Antonov, many of them remain popular and active to this day. They were the mainstream of Soviet music media, headliners of festivals such as Song of the Year, Sopot, and Golden Orpheus. The year 1977 saw the establishment of Moskovsky Komsomolets hit parade, Russia’s first music chart.

VIA Singing Guitar
VIA Singing Guitar

The term VIA represented a model under which the Soviet government was willing to permit domestic rock and pop music acts to develop. To be able to break through the state-owned Soviet media, a band needed to become an officially-recognized VIA. Each VIA had an artistic director who served as manager, producer, and also state-appointed censor. In some bands the artistic director was the band’s leading member and songwriter, while in others he played the role of an impresario.

Songs varied from pop ballads, dance disco and new wave to mainstream rock (although bands avoided the rock music label until the late ’70s, because rock was considered a bourgeois art and formally banned) (!). The typical VIA consisted of 6 to 10 band members, lead vocalists usually did not play an instrument, virtually every member of a VIA was a professional musician, with formal musical education.

VIA Charivni Guitar
VIA Charivni Guitar

The Soviet government had strict rules governing how members of a VIA were to behave on stage and conduct themselves in public. Performers were only allowed to wear suits, folks costumes, or military uniforms. Movements around the stage were discouraged and anything outside of the conservative norm, such as long hair, tattoos, leather jackets, or metallic accessories were strictly forbidden. Due to state censorship, the lyrics of VIAs were family-friendly, typical topics were universal emotions like love, joy, and nostalgia, or idealized vignettes from usual daily life.

VIA song recordings were done by Melodiya, the State-owned record company, and the concerts/performances were organized by professional associations such as Soyuzkontsert (Union Concerts), Moskontsert (Moscow Concerts), Lenkonsert (Leningrad Concerts), Roskontsert (Russian Concerts), along with regional groups.

Let’s go to our artist:

Alla Pugacheva & Kristina Orbakaitе
Alla Pugacheva & Kristina Orbakaitе

Alla Borisovna Pugacheva (April 15, 1949) started performing when she still was at junior school. In 1965, she composed and recorded The Robot, her first song for the national radio. After high school, Pugacheva continued education in Moscow State Music College, at the department of conducting and choir singing. Later, in 1981 she also got a degree in theatre directing at the (arrant) State Theatre Art College.

Alla Pugacheva started a professional singing career in the early ’70s, as a leading singer of VIA’s Funny Guys, but real recognition only came when she won the Grand Prix of the Golden Orpheus song contest with the song Harlequin in 1975.

Afterward, she went to work in what would be the turning point of its career: the musical film The Woman Who Sings, in 1977. In co-op with the band Rhythm, she played the leading lady, a pop singer who sacrifices her personal life for her career.

60's Alla Pugacheva
60’s Pugacheva

The soundtrack, which was co-written by her, included a myriad of pop songs, the Soviet audience, regarding the film as autobiographical, brought the OST to reach record audience of the year in 1979, as it was bought by 55 million people! (phew)

Though for many she grew to represent the government-pop culture that was forced upon the people, her popularity skyrocketed, and she released many albums throughout the decades. Her contributions to Russian music were recognized when she has bestowed the title of People’s Artist of the U.S.S.R. in 1991. She enjoys an iconic status across the former Soviet Union and has overshadowed a long time rival Sofia Rotaru as the most successful Soviet performer in terms of record sales and popularity. Her last album was released in 2008 and lately, Pugacheva is the main judge on Factor A, Russia’s version of the British X-Factor television series.

Let’s go to our album:

Primadonna
Primadonna

Mirror of the Soul was Alla Pugacheva’s first studio album, published in the Soviet Union in May 1978, as a double album, and later re-released in two parts. The Lp includes songs performed by her, recorded in 1975/1977 primarily composed by (master) Alexander Zatsepin. It became one of the most sold in the USSR in late 70’s early 80’s. By 1983, it had sold 7,753,500 copies, and with a general circulation exceeding 60 reissues, the album approached the terrific mark of 10 million copies!

A collection of singles, which had previously appeared in the film or in separate publications, it firmly stands as a kaleidoscope of genres, ranging from kitschy hits, funk-rock, orchestral ballads, prog synths, art pop, funny marches and much more from a devilishly talented singer and composer, prepare yourself for Alla’s realms.

The ‘IM’ highlights are Приезжай (Come) and Мы Не Любим Друг Друга (We Do Not Like Each Other)хорошая поездка!

Tracks Include:

A1 Бубен Шамана (Tambourine Shaman) / Centerline of The Skies OST

A2 Верю В Тебя (I Believe in You) / Basketball OST

A3 Сонет Шекспира (Shakespeare’s Sonnet)

B1 Приезжай (Come)

B2 Не Отрекаются Любя (Do Not Deny Loving)

B3 Песенка Про Меня (Song About Me)

B4 Женщина, Которая Поет (The Woman Who Sings)

C1 Все Могут Короли (Kings Can Do Everything)

C2 Куда Уходит Детство (Where Does Childhood?) / Fantasy Vesnuhina OST

C3 Волшебник-Недоучка (Wizard-Dropout) / Brave Chirac OST

C4 Полно Вокруг Мудрецов (Fully Sages Around) / Brave Chirac OST

D1 Мы Не Любим Друг Друга (We Do Not Like Each Other) / Cook & Singer OST

D2 Если И Долго Мучиться (If You Long To Suffer) / Cook & Singer OST

D3 До Свиданья, Лето (Goodbye, Summer) / Centerline of The Skies OST

D4 Любовь Одна Виновата (Love One to Blame) / Centerline of The Skies OST

D5 Найди Себе Друга (Find a Friend) / Fantasy Vesnuhina OST

Credits

Conductor: V. Terletsky (B2), A. Avilov (A2, A3, B1, B3, B4), V. Kleynot (A1, C1 to D5)

Ensemble: VIA B. Kleynota (A1, C1 to D5), Rhythm (A2, A3, B1, B3, B4)

Music: Alexander Zatsepin (A1, A2, B3, C2 to D5), Boris Gorbonos (A3, B1, B4), Boris Richkov (C1), Leonid Garin (B4), Mark Minkov (B2)

Lyrics: William Shakespeare (A3), Boris Gorbonos (B1), V. Tushnova (B2), Kaisyn Guliyev (B4), Leonid Derbenyov (A1, B3, C1 to D5), Onegin Gadzhikasimov (A2)

  • Arrangements: Alexander Zatsepin (except B2 and C1)
  • Photographer: Vyacheslav Maneshina
  • Supervised: A. Kachalina

Мелодия ‎– 33 С 60-09799-802

Vasilissa the Beautiful by Ivan Bilibin
Vasilissa the Beautiful by Ivan Bilibin

Konstantin Orbelyan Orchestra – Государственный Эстрадный Оркестр Армении (Armenian State Estrada Orchestra) [1978]

armenia, orchestraThe music of Armenia has its origins in the Armenian Highlands, where people traditionally sang popular folk songs, with a long musical tradition, that was primarily collected and developed by Komitas, a prominent priest and musicologist, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Armenian music has been presented internationally by composers Aram Khachaturian, Arno Babadjanian, duduk player Djivan Gasparyan, composer Ara Gevorgyan, pop singer Sirusho, amid others.

One of the oldest types of Armenian music is the Armenian chantthe most common kind of religious music in Armenia, many of these chants are ancient in origin, extending to pre-Christian times, while others are relatively modern, including several composed by Saint Mesrop Mashtots, (simply) Armenian alphabet’s inventor.

Prokofiev, Shostakovich & Aaram Khachaturian
Prokofiev, Shostakovich & Aaram Khachaturian

Under Soviet domination, Armenian folk music was taught in state-sponsored conservatoires, instruments played include qamancha (similar to a violin), kanun (dulcimer), dhol (hand drum), oud (lute), zurna, blul (ney), shvi and saz.

Other instruments are often used such as violin and clarinet, and the duduk is Armenia’s national instrument. Traditional Armenian folk music as Armenian church music is not based on the European tonal system but on a system of Tetrachords, the last note of one tetrachord also serves as the first note of the next, which makes Armenian folk music based on a theoretically endless scale. (!)

Traditional Ensemble
Traditional Ensemble

Let’s go to our artist:

Konstantin Aghaparoni Orbelyan (July 29, 1928 – April 24, 2014) an Armenian pianist, composer, head of the State Estrada Orchestra of Armenia. He was a People’s Artist of USSR (1979), Union of Soviet Composers Board member, Armenian Composer’s Union secretary since 1983, Vice-President of All-Soviet Musical Society of the USSR. Also the uncle of his namesake Constantine Orbelian, he has been acknowledged as a pianist and improviser since he was in his early teens.

At age fifteen, he was invited to perform with the Armenian State Pop Orchestra, formed in 1938 in Yerevan, and subsequently became its conductor. Under his able direction for thirty-six years, the Orchestra rose to become one of the most accomplished of its kind. As a result, it came to represent Soviet jazz over thirty countries in Eastern and Western Europe, Near EastAfrica, and Southeast Asia!

Konstantin Orbelyan
Konstantin Orbelyan

Graduating in composition and piano from Edward Mirzoyan’s class of composition at Yerevan’s Komitas Conservatory in 1963, Orbelian achieved early recognition for his String Quartet, winning first prize at the International Competition in Moscow, where the chairman of the Competition’s panel of judges was the composer Dmitri Shostakovich. Orbelian’s rising talent and success were noted with great appreciation by the doyen of Armenian music of the time: Aram Khachaturian.

Next followed the premiere of Orbelian’s first symphony in Moscow’s famous Tchaikovsky Hall by the USSR State Symphony Orchestra. For this symphony, Orbelian was awarded the title ‘Laureate of the All-Union Competition’. His ballet symphony Immortality was composed in 1975 and performed by the Yerevan Opera and Ballet Theater. This work, too, won first prize in an All-Union Competition devoted to the music stage. One of the Orchestra’s highlights was its American tour (1975) which included twenty-five concerts in major cities from coast to coast. (!)

Live
Live

In the beginning of the ’90s after the collapse of the Soviet Union working with the orchestra and creating music became very difficult. In 1992 Konstantin Orbelian moved to San Francisco, spending his last moments in Los Angeles. Ever versatile in the scope of his repertoire, he has written musical scores for many films and stage musicals, music for theater, not to mention his extensive work in jazz/pop music.

Recently, more than 8 cd’s have been released with compositions for symphonic orchestra, as well as jazz and pop music, with an endless number of awards placing the maestro in one of the highest recognition spots throughout the globe.

Let’s go to our album:

Thanks to the fantastic work of our friends from Soviet Groove, we’ve been able to rediscover the pinnacle of Jazz, Pop, and Soul from countries like Armenia, Estonia, Latvia, Georgia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, etc. At a time when the Iron Curtain still ruled the old world order, to the surprise of all, great composers/musicians had an exact idea of ​​what the Western world consumed!

Armenian (Bagratid Dynasty) Costume
Armenian (Bagratid Dynasty) Costume

I would go even further, groups like Gunesh, Firyuza, Yalla, Qaya, Sevil, among others, conceived one of the finest meetings between Jazz and Folk music. Our today album is just a first step of a fascinating and little-known aspect of these faraway cultures, mostly supported by legendary Melodiya (Μелодия) label, soon we’ll have an entry solely to this. By now, remain with a great Western-like big-band and վայելել!

The ‘IM’ highlights are Ты Моя Песня (A5) and Вокализ (B4).

Tracks Include:

A1 Сто Часов Счастья (One Hundred Hours of Happiness)

A2 Твои Следы (Your Footprints)

A3 Назан Яр (Nazan Yar) w/ Larisa Dolina

A4 Восход Солнца (Sunrise)

A5 Ты Моя Песня (You’re my Song) w/ Datevik Hovanesian

B1 Силуэт (Silhouette)

B2 Шум Берез (Noise Birches)

B3 Весенний Экспромт (Spring Impromptu)

B4 Вокализ (Vocalise) w/ Datevik Hovanesian

B5 Спасибо, Жизнь (Thanks for Life)

Мелодия ‎– С60–09733–34

Cafesjian Museum (breathtaking) Vista
Cafesjian Museum (breathtaking) Vista