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By Naira Margaryan
KATUNER (Cats) is an avandgarde folk music band formed by 7 talented musicians two years ago, which is going to celebrate its second anniversary on Novermber 26th. Being unable to hold the desire and in order to commemorate the upcoming event our newspaper decided to dedicate an article to this unique band and tell our readers about another enticing piece of our city's music life. The band's leader Vahagn Hayrapetyan kindly agreed to meet and tell us about the "birth" and "childhood" of
KATUNER and about their future plans. ''Frankly speaking KATUNER was a result of our staying together with Toti (our trumpet player) in the same hotel room during all
our concert tours with Armenian Navy Band. It's not a secret that Avantgarde Folk Music as a separate music style is the invention of ANB's leader and our friend Arto
Tuncboyaciyan, who played his role in the formation of KATUNER with his example and encouragement. So being constantly instigated by Arto and after various discussions of our plans and ideas with Toti, the idea of forming a group finally matured and turned to the reality - KATUNER was formed on November 26th, 2004. By that time I already had a lot of ideas, music compositions already born and
those still wandering in my head waiting for their moment to come, and the same was with the other guys, so we had enough luggage to start our journey as a new
band.'' And it was a success. If you have ever been to their concert you would notice the excitement of the musicians and the audience- people come here to have
an agreeable time, enjoy the unique music of KATUNER and share that pleasure with their fellows and friends. Positive energy is flowing, they play music already familiar to you differently every time, and the mood around them is always different.
Some argue that the music is very much like ANB, to which before quoting their alto sax player David Nalchajyan on this matter, I must comment that it's not actually so. Being in the same music style and even sometimes seeming similar the music of
KATUNER is pretty different, to me it is more structured and steady, though containing a huge deal of improvisation. By the way, though mainly composed by
Vahagn Hayrapetyan KATUNER also play the music of other band members, particularly I love one composed by Norayr, the duff zurna, sax and duduk player, who is a completely separate subject of disclosure and, who knows, may be we will
refer to him once in our newspaper.
"Of course it might sometimes sound alike - let's not forget that we play in the same music style and also no wonder that ANB's influence might appear here and there, after all we all originally come from Armenian Navy Band. But indeed, even if sometimes sounding similar the music of KATUNER is unique in its own way, and is composed by different persons. The feeling of similarity is probably invoked by the synthesis of national motives, jazz, rock and some other modern flows, which is the definition of Avantgarde Folk - a music style invented by Arto, and we friendly co-exist with ANB rather than compete, and play with pleasure in both bands. Maybe being inside and being musicians we feel the difference much more than the udience, but after all it's the good music we play that matters here." David Nalchajyan Their music itself has the temper of a cat - easily manipulating your mood, getting what it
wants. First, it's quite and soft, like a cat purring and fawning upon your legs, it fills you with the sense of caress and harmony, then it becomes active and cunning like a cat playing with a clew. It may suddenly turn around and leave - typical for a cat wandering all by itself, and sometimes it becomes wild ready to tear you into pieces, but eventually it slowly and graciously comes back to sleep at your feet. Still, where the name of the band actually comes from. "Well, I used to call everyone I liked cat (katu) so the name came just by itself, and I think it's no wonder because I like the band and the guys."
But recently the press suggested another version of where their name comes from - in the U.S. jazzmen often call each other a "cat" because not that long ago jazz musicians used to wander from one club to another, play and even sleep in the
streets, so in that sense they were associated with cats. This was quite a sensible and even romantic explanation though having no actual connection with KATUNER. At least one thing is certain here - KATUNER is getting so famous that legends are
already surrounding it. "I think every musician and artist likes to be famous, because
this means that the things you create are accepted and appreciated by people. Wherever we play we see the same faces from time to time visiting our concerts and
enjoying our music and we feel completely remunerated by their smiles and pleasure they enjoy.
This inspires us to move forward and gives ideas for new compositions, concerts and not only..."
Let me clue the meaning of that enigmatic "not only" -KATUNER has prepared a great
New Year present for all those listening to them and those just decided to "join the club" - the first CD called "NOREVAN" (New Yerevan) will be released shortly. It contains tracks reminding the melodies of pink Yerevan of our parent's youth with the nowadays peculiarities of modern Yerevan lost in construction dust and illiterate slang
but still so, familiar and warm to our hearts. So let's for just a single moment hold the impatience and anticipation of the new CD and with all our hearts and throats shout out:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY "KATUNER" - Noyan Tapan Highlights, November 20, 2006


'' KATUNER''' first album Norevan (Ararat Pro Digital 2007) was released in March 2007 and was nominated for "Best Jazz Album" at the Armenian Music Awards of the same year, where they were also nominated for "Best Jazz Performance of 2007" for their performance at the "Jazz & Dram" 2007 Jazz Festival. In 2008 Katuner released their first music video "Oror", directed by David Sahakyants, which went on to win the Armenian Music Award for "Best Music Video of 2008". This was followed by their next and latest album "Red Sun" which took the Armenian Music Award for “Best Jazz Album for 2009".


Feeling a bit camera shy


The founder of “Katuner” Vahagn Hayrapetyan is one of the most famous and popular jazz musicians performing on today’s Armenian stage. For a long time, he has been delivering his brand of close harmony by performing in swing and pop styles and also by playing in his trio. In 2008 Vahagn received the title of “Honorary Artist of the Republic Of Armenia"
At the end of 2004, Vahagn changed his musical image and created “Katuner” (Cats). The original members of the band were Vahagn Hayrapetyan (keyboards), Tigran Suchyan (trumpet), David Nalchajyan (alto saxophone), Artyom Manukyan (bass, cello) and Tigran Sanoyan (drums). Later, Ashot Haroutiunyan (trombone) joined the band. Ashot’s presence added more power and harmony to the music. His trombone sounded like a human voice. The next to join was Norayr Kartashyan, who performs on various folk wind and percussion instruments. With his arrival, the sound of the ensemble gained a folk spirit. Norayr is a storyteller and added the sound of nature to the music. Drummer Arman Jalalyan (Yamaha club member since 2005) joined the band at the beginning of 2006 and brought with him a very creative touch. In 2009 alto saxophonist Artur Grigoryan and trombonist David Minasian both became "cats". The most recent addition to the band, bassist Edgar Sahakyan, joined in 2010.
In 2012 alto saxophonist David Melkonyan replaced Artur Grigoryan and trombonist David Minasian has been replaced by Vahram Davtyan.
Originally all members of the Armenian Navy Band (BBC World Music Audience Award Winners, 2006), Katuner proved to be a very powerful band, playing original compositions yet bringing with it an already recognizable and much loved sound.
Katuner were nominated as best Jazz Project on 2012 at Armenian Music Award. Katuner's performances include:
• Yerevan’s 2005 and 2006 Jazz Appreciation Month (organized by the State Department of the USA).
• The 1st and 2nd "International Festivals of Avant-Garde Folk Music" held in Yerevan, Armenia.
• "Caucasus Music Meeting" (organized by the British Council in 2005) Tbilisi, Georgia.
• The 3rd International Jazz Festival “Yerevan-2006”, Yerevan, Armenia.
• Moskovski Dom club, 2006, Moscow, Russia.
• Usadiba Jazz Festival 2008, Moscow, Russia.
• Za Jazz Fest 2008, Kharkov, Ukraine.
• "Jazz & Dram" festival 2008, Yerevan,Armenia.
• Dubai International Jazz Festival 2009.
• "Diagilev seasons festival 2009", Perm, Russia.
• "Open Music Festival 2009" Yerevan, Armenia.
• "Hay Fest" – 2011 Yerevan, Armenia
• "Golden Apricot" – 2012, Yerevan, Armenia