Tigran Hamasyan knows his way around a dreamscape. As a pianist and composer, he draws inspiration from jazz, folkloric and classical sources, in ways that feel both hypermodern and practically ageless. This synthesis is well captured in the video for his composition “The Cave of Rebirth,” which has its premiere here.
Hamasyan hails from Armenia, and he now resides there again, after a long stretch in Los Angeles. He grew up a child prodigy, winning the Montreux Jazz Piano Solo Competition at age 11. For many jazz observers, he flew onto the radar when he won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition just over a decade ago, at 19.
“The Cave of Rebirth” is the first single from Hamasyan’s forthcoming solo album, An Ancient Observer. Like the rest of the album, it’s a “solo” performance in the sense that no other musician makes a contribution. But Hamasyan incorporates overdubs, adding light percussive elements — as well as a wordless vocal that evokes both Armenian folk music and the ethereal sound of Naná Vasconcelos in the Pat Metheny Group.
The video for the track, directed by Ruben van Leer, shows Hamasyan alone at a piano in a vast industrial space, like a shipping warehouse. The camera moves in a slow arc around him, before a sculptural shape emerges from the piano, gradually filling the frame. It’s a fractal animation by Julius Horsthuis, a Dutch artist who specializes in this category of visual effects. Otherworldly yet familiar, endless yet contained, forever shifting and changing — it all adds up to a smart visual counterpart to Hamasyan’s musical creation.
An Ancient Observer is due out on Nonesuch on March 31. Hamasyan will preview the album on March 5 at Yoshi’s in Oakland; on March 8 at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston; and on March 10 at SubCulture in New York. For more information, visit tigranhamasyan.com.