Zephyrs Jazz Presents:

The Zela Margossian Quintet

in partnership with Four Winds

Windsong Pavilion

Four Winds Rd, Barragga Bay, 2546

Postponed – date TBA

Zela Margossian

“…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)

Finally we are back after our lost year, this time to present the ‘heartfelt’, ‘entrancing and dazzlingly unique’ pianist/composer Zela Margossian and her ARIA Award-nominated Quintet (‘ZMQ’).

Margossian’s late-2018 debut album, Transition, created a sensation both here and overseas. She certainly attracted Zephyrs Jazz’s attention, and Four Winds was so impressed that they offered her the residency that will precede our concert.

Zela’s compositions emerged from a life that was immersed in music, culturally rich and lived in sometimes challenging circumstances. She was born in Beirut to refugee Armenian parents and grew up there during the Lebanese civil war. Her parents gave her a piano for her fourth birthday 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 college and at the Lebanese Higher State Conservatorium.

After graduating she moved to Armenia’s capital city of Yerevan and continued her classical studies there, in her parent’s homeland and culture. She graduated from the renowned Komitas State Conservatorium five years later. In Yerevan she also discovered, and ‘fell in love with’, another music – the fusion of Armenian music and jazz.

This love of Armenian ‘ethno jazz’ became her musical starting point after circumstances brought another big change to her life – migration to Australia. In Sydney Zela eventually found support and guidance from the great Australian jazz musicians Judy Bailey and Sandy Evans, opportunities to feel her way into improvisation in SIMA’s Women’s Jazz Workshop sessions, and access to the teachers and students of Sydney Conservatorium’s Jazz Course. She credits these opportunities with helping her to find her jazz voice and talents.

The Zela Margossian Quintet

Her new contacts also led her to the talented world-jazz musicians she needed for her planned quintet: Alexander Inman-Hislop (Drums); Adem Yilmaz (percussion); Jacques Emery (double bass); and multi-instrumentalist Stuart Vandegraaff (saxophones, clarinet, flute, Arabic nāys). They will accompany her at our concert.

In November 2018 the Zela Margossian Quintet released Transition. The liner notes describe its music as ‘melodies that juggle speed, calculation and experimentation alongside a sometimes soft, windswept mood’. It blended jazz with the Armenian, middle-eastern and classical traditions and with the music of ethno-jazz greats such as Tunisia’s Dhafer Youssef and fellow Armenian Tigran Hamasyan. Some tracks are also directly inspired by her life experiences, for example ‘Ceasefire’ captures the joy of the children of Beirut being able to return to street-play during a break in the civil war. Zela observes in one interview that “there’s always music, and in music there’s always hope”.

Transition attracted an ARIA nomination for Best World Jazz Album and enthusiastic and influential music press reviews. Prestigious performance invitations soon followed, including: the Beirut International Jazz Festival; Sydney’s International Women’s Jazz Festival; SIMA’s Winter Jazz Festival; the Sydney Festival; the Sydney Opera House; and the Wangaratta Jazz Festival. ABC Jazz has regularly featured tracks from the album and also commissioned Zela and prominent jazz musician Jeremy Rose to co-write and perform the music for an ABC album titled Visions of Nar, ‘Hymns of New Hope’, inspired by the Armenian goddess of water, sea, and rain.

Very recent news is that the Quintet has recorded a second album, The Road, this time with the renowned US label Ropeadope. The album is due for release in late February 2022, just after our concert, so we hope to get an early preview of it.

We invite you to join us on 6 February to enjoy the moving and dazzling music of Transition and to discover where that transition has led.

You can find more information on Zela Margossian, her music and her band, and sample her music, on her website and her YouTube channel.

This piece in The Music Trust’s magazine presents her account of, and reflections on, her life in music.

Finally, we provide periodic updates on the band, together with developments in the wider world of jazz, on our Facebook page (see link below).

Event partnered with Four Winds