Zephyrs Jazz Presents:
The Zela Margossian Quintet
in partnership with Four Winds
Four Winds Rd, Barragga Bay, 2546
Saturday 24th September 2022 | 4:00pm
Doors open 3:30pm
(Concert runs for 120 mins. including interval)
“…entrancing and dazzlingly unique … She unites Armenian rhythms with the musical flavors of Lebanon, her classical music training, American jazz and folk.” (Downbeat)
“… heartfelt, authentic and wholly absorbing .. music that can be returned to again and again,.” (JazzWise Magazine)
“…a mesmerising set that leapt with vitality, ached with sorrow and pulsed with drama.” (SMH)
We have finally been able to reschedule our covid-postponed February concert with the “entrancing and dazzlingly unique” Zela Margossian and her ARIA Award-nominated Quintet (‘ZMQ’). The concert will follow (and undoubtedly benefit from) a one-week Artists-in-Residence stay for Zela and her musicians with our partner Four Winds.
The Zela Margossian Quintet created a sensation in late 2018 with its extraordinary debut album, Transition. Critics and audiences alike were captivated by Zela’s intriguing compositions, by her seamless fusion of music from the classical, Armenian, Middle Eastern and jazz traditions and by the band’s masterful interplay. It is telling that two of the world’s leading jazz journals, Downbeat and JazzWise, chose to review this debut album.
The album’s title references Margossian’s extended transition from her classical music training to jazz via Armenian ‘ethno-jazz’. Her compositions also ‘tell stories’ from her life journey through three countries and cultures – Lebanon, Armenia and, finally, Australia.
Three years later, Zela and her Quintet have consolidated their reputation with their February 2022 release of a second enthusiastically received album, The Road. As the title implies, the album continues their musical journey.
Zela says “my music is a story of who I am”. Her story begins in Beirut, where she was born to Armenian refugee parents during Lebanon’s civil war. Her fourth birthday present was a piano and, she says, “I can’t remember a day since when music wasn’t a part of my life”. She went on to study classical piano performance in Beirut and then at post-graduate level in Yerevan, the capital of her parent’s homeland.
During her five years at Yerevan’s Conservatorium Zela also discovered, then “fell in love with”, a very different genre – a popular ‘ethno-jazz’ fusion of Armenian folk music and jazz. It was to become her main source of inspiration and it led her to step away from her classical music career aspirations.
Circumstances then took her to Australia. In Sydney she eventually discovered its annual ‘Women’s Jazz Workshop’ and, through it, the city’s vibrant and supportive jazz scene, influential mentors such as Judy Bailey and Sandy Evans, and jazz teachers and peers at Sydney’s Conservatorium. She credits the experience with helping her to find both her jazz voice and the musicians that she would need to play her new compositions.
In November 2018, a decade after graduating in classical piano in Yerevan, Zela Margossian released her debut world jazz album.
Transition’s liner notes describe the music as “melodies that juggle speed, calculation and experimentation alongside a sometimes soft, windswept mood”. The music also tells stories from her life – for example ‘Ceasefire’, which expresses the joy of Beirut’s children when a break in the civil war allows them to return to the street to play football.
Three years and a pandemic later, the release of ZMQ’s second album has consolidated the band’s reputation. Margossian says that The Road’s compositions depict her band’s continuing journey: “the journey that music takes us on and the discoveries we make along the way, which bring more depth and wholeness into our lives”.
This article in The Music Trust’s magazine presents her account of, and reflections on, her life in music.
We also provide periodic updates on the band, together with developments in the wider world of jazz, on our Facebook page (see link below).