Review / Description
Taksim is a Middle Eastern term meaning “improvisation”. The band Taksim was created by Souren Baronian, who grew up with one musical foot rooted in his ethnic Armenian heritage, and the other firmly planted in the hot jazz of the heyday of 52nd Street. The music of Taksim is an authentic, organic hybrid of these two idioms, created by a genuine master. Taksim is based in New York City, has performed in most of the Big Apple’s major jazz clubs over the years, and has played widely in the eastern U.S. and Europe since the band’s debut in 1975.
Souren “Sudan” Baronian was a featured artist on the N.P.R. series Old Traditions/New sounds, produced by Rebecca Miller and narrated by Judy Collins. He played for the Anthony Quinn production of Zorba the Greek on Broadway and appeared on the Johnny Carson show. He has performed at various times at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Fat Tuesdays, The Village Gate, The Bottom Line, The Blue Note Cafe, and many other jazz and ethnic venues throughout the US and Europe. Souren has performed live or recorded with numerous distinguished musicians from both his musical bags, including Phil Woods, Joe Beck, Joe Farrell, Paul Motian, Don Cherry, Steve Gadd, Carla Bley, Arnie Lawrence, Tom Harrell, Chet Amsterdam, Armen Donelian, Oudi Hrant, Marko Melkon, Ahmet Yatman, Mustafa Kandirali, Kadri Sencalar, Saleas, Tassos Halkias – and many more fine musicians too multitudinous to list from the Arab world, Iran, Israel, Armenia, Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria.
Haig Manoukian, born of Armenian parentage in Virginia, now resides in New York City. He is widely considered one of the world’s finest musicians of the oud (a fretless 11-string instrument), who has worked with the most influential musicians of Turkey, Armenia, Egypt, and Iran. Haig has played at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, at many major cabarets throughout the U.S. and frequently performs with Middle Eastern dance companies. He has also toured extensively in Europe with Sudan Baronian in smaller ensembles and with Taksim. His fiery, passionate, highly original playing led one fan to dub him “the Jimi Hendrix of the oud.”
Steve Knight was rigorously trained in classical music and traditional jazz on the piano, horn, and bass, and still performs and composes in these idioms when not with Taksim. A brief rock career found him playing at the 1969 Woodstock Festival and on several gold albums with the rock group Mountain (in its original incarnation). He and Sudan met when both were playing ethnic gigs, and they immediately recognized their musical kinship and jazz orientation.
Rowan Storms involvement with “world music” began long before it was fashionable. A tireless and fearless musical explorer, she has travelled extensively throughout Central America and the Mediterranean regions, researching, studying, and playing traditional music(s). Rowan is a highly accomplished percussionist on a variety of hand drums, and a polyglot vocalist who has performed in many genres and languages for very diverse audiences throughout America and Europe.
Mal Stein grew up surrounded by jazz. His father owned a well- know jazz club in Lakewood, New Jersey (Richard’s Lounge) which launched Mal’s musical career. From folk-rock to bebop he has played the N.YC. scene from side- man to leader. When introduced to the music of Taksim, he took up the challenge of mastering the odd time signatures and complex rhythms of the middle-east He succeeded admirably and was the perfect choice to be Taksim’s drummer.
Sudan Baronian ‘s compositions require swinging but sensitive musicians with enormous versatility to do them justice.. He has certainly found them in this line- up …all of them disciplined and highly accomplished but inspired to “reinvent” their instruments to express this new idiom.