Djivan Gasparyan & Michael Brook | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Djivan Gasparyan & Michael Brook 

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DJIVAN GASPARYAN & MICHAEL BROOK

Armenian folk music's dominant instrument, the duduk--a double reed usually carved from the wood of an apricot tree--has only a one-octave range. But in the hands of Djivan Gasparyan, the music's most prominent modern exponent, it produces a seductively melancholy sound few woodwinds can match. Whether playing the melodies of folk dances or improvising around a fixed tone, Gasparyan uses gentle repetition and airy, gradually shifting lines to build expansive, painterly soundscapes. On gorgeous traditional recordings like Apricots From Eden (Traditional Crossroads) or the new Heavenly Duduk (World Network), he's typically accompanied by a second, droning duduk and a small two-headed hand drum. For this appearance, however, Gasparyan will perform with guitarist and producer Michael Brook. Brook, who's cut several albums of aural wallpaper for 4AD, has made a name for himself in recent years by collaborating with international artists like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Indian mandolinist U. Srinivas; in both those projects his billowy, heavily treated electric-guitar arpeggios stripped his collaborator's music of some of its inherent beauty and grace. Last year Brook joined Gasparyan to make Black Rock (Real World), and though the duduk player contributes some of his typically lovely woodwind lines as well as a few fragile vocals, almost all of them are smothered in electronics. Still, as Gasparyan is in his 70s, the opportunity to hear him in any setting is worth special consideration. Friday, 7:30 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage; 773-929-5959 or 312-559-1212. Peter Margasak

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Christina Piza.

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