The Navy Band

Armenian International Magazine (AIM) Volume 10, Number 6, June 1999, p. 67

The Navy Band

Hratch Tchilingirian

Armenian Navy Band, subtitled Bzdik Zinvor (Small Soldier) is Arto Tunçboyaciyan’s newest CD production (Svota Music 1999).

“When I decided to name the group the Armenian Navy Band, I did not intend any political message,” says Tunçboyaciyan. “As you know there is no sea surrounding Armenia. My point was to express how powerful positive belief can be — enough to create trust in people, that they too can imagine how to move a boat without water,” explains the 42-year-old, internationally-acclaimed percussionist.

Born in Turkey, Tunçboyaciyan played with one of Turkey’s most famous musicians, Burhan Toguc and his band Metronome when he was just 13. However, as a teenager and budding musician, he was most influenced by his older brother Onno, a well-known musician blending Eastern and Western music in Turkey. Onno was killed a few years ago in a plane accident.

In 1981, Tunçboyaciyan moved to New York where his musical talent and individuality made him stand out in the music industry. He was soon in great demand as a studio musician. Over the years he has worked with famous musicians, including Arthur Blythe, Don Cherry, Jim Pepper, Chet Baker, Paul Winter and Joe Zawinul and has accompanied them on European and world concert tours.

His first successful solo tour came in 1986 when he played in various Scandinavian cities, which was followed by his first solo album Virgin Lands in 1986, produced by Chris Hinze. Since then he has produced several CDs which defy conventional characterizations, but could be best described as a melange of jazz, percussion and vocals where East, West and “universal” music meet.

“Arto is indisputably a superb percussionist,” says Nareg Antabian, co-producer of Armenian Navy Band, who accompanied Tunçboyaciyan during his two visits to Armenia where the CD was recorded. “It was long overdue for him to return to the larger family [of Armenians] and let the sound of his songs soar under the sky of the Fatherland,” says Antabian, adding that it was important for Tunçboyaciyan to share his vast experience and avant-garde artistic vision with many talented musicians in Armenia.

“For me, music means love, hope and truth,” says Arto. And “until next time,” he writes in the jacket of his new CD, “the best nutrition is a smile, the best vitamin is happiness.”

Hratch Tchilingirian
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