Sunnyside Records (SSC 4007)

Armen Donelian | Piano
David Clark | Bass
George Schuller | Drums

  1. Oasis (Donelian)
  2. Spree (Donelian)
  3. Sunrise, Sunset (Bock/Harnick)
  4. Waiting For Flora (Donelian)
  5. Django (Lewis)
  6. Easy Does It (Donelian)
  7. Lady Of Ghent (Donelian)
  8. Sans Souci (Donelian)


Recorded at Northern Track Studio, March 18, 2007, Wilmington, VT

PRESS (July, 2008)

Armen Donelian is not a familiar name in jazz, although those who have heard him play might wonder why. Oasis is his 11th release as a leader, and his impressive sideman credits include Mongo Santamaria, Sonny Rollins, Chet Baker, Paquito D'Rivera, and Thomas Chapin. The medium-tempo title track, "Oasis," is a gracefully structured and thoughtful Donelian composition. His creative phrases are lucidly articulated, and his ample technique is used only to capture the harmonic essence of his theme, not to mindlessly hide any lack of inspiration. Donelian has an appealingly delicate touch, and his classical training and early studies with Richie Beirach helped develop his sensitive, reflective and openly expressive approach to tunes such as this. Clark and Schuller, his rhythm team for the past four years, support him skillfully and sympathetically, and Clark contributes a finely crafted solo of his own. Now in his late 50s, the New York- born pianist of Armenian descent is a rewarding listen. Sample Donelian – you won't be disappointed.

– Scott Albin


Jazz Times (August, 2008)

Armen Donelian’s résumé is wide and deep, as leader, sideman, author, educator and (as a Fulbright Senior Scholar) cultural ambassador to Armenia, the land of his ancestors. Fortunately, when Donelian sits down to make a piano trio record (Oasis is his 11th), he does not wear his academic erudition or his ethnicity or even his chops on his sleeve. Instead he blends his influences into a seamless, balanced whole. Oasis quickly establishes a high level of musical discourse and never falters from it. Donelian’s poise makes everything sound measured and unhurried. Even on a fast, hard waltz like “Sans Souci,” his instinct is to slow it and gather it for thoughtful inspection.

His sweet spot is a particular, springy slow-to-mid-tempo, like the title track and “Lady of Ghent.” They are two of the six originals here, all fresh, elegant forms that retain their shapeliness even as Donelian freely embellishes them, his right hand often flowing into luminous treble cascades. But the clearest evidence of Donelian’s compositional creativity may be his cover of “Django.” The first 3 1/2 minutes are an excursion far from it, retaining only the dramatic anticipation of John Lewis’ elegy. It is like a release of breath when the famous melody finally emerges.

– Thomas Conrad


All About Jazz (May 4, 2008)

…While pianists Armen Donelian and Mulgrew Miller have clearly done their research, they have also moved beyond mere imitation and developed their own unique, artistic voices. Their trios feature original compositions, virtuoso piano playing and sympathetic drumming and bass playing, with one more thing in common between them--both are instructors in the jazz studies program at William Paterson University, less than an hour from NYC…

Donelian's Oasis begins with the title track and it's a beautiful, floating piece with a rhythmic basis somewhere between a bossa nova and soft R&B. It might remind a listener of Chick Corea or Keith Jarrett, yet its originality is undeniable. Even the two non-Donelian pieces - “Sunrise, Sunset” and “Django” - are satisfyingly organic, compositionally and improvisationally seamless. On the latter, for instance, Donelian's florid piano introduction melts into a softly singing bass solo--then his solo starts as a spare counterpoint texture that eventually gives way to a slightly more traditional linear right-hand, ending on John Lewis' enthralling original melody. “Sans Souci” ('carefree' in French) closes this CD: its light mood is no less technically accomplished or sophisticated than the other tracks and like most of the CD, refreshingly free of stiffness or pretense. In a music market filled with choices, this recording is an oasis of honest, multifaceted, breathing music.

– Francis Lo Kee


All Music Guide (2008)

A skilled pianist whose style and voicings are influenced most by Bill Evans, Armen Donelian puts his own musical personality in his explorations of modern mainstream jazz. Donelian, who also works as an educator, has led to more than ten CDs in his career thus far of which Oasis is a good example of his work. Teamed with bassist David Clark and drummer George Schuller, Donelian mostly explores his own harmonically sophisticated originals plus a straightforward rendition of John Lewis' "Django," and an offbeat but successful choice in "Sunrise, Sunset." His interplay with his sidemen gives the other musicians opportunities to influence his musical directions and the three players often seem to think like one. Although Oasis would have benefited from including more cookers, it has a nice balance of moods and tempos and, like all of Donelian's previous recordings, is enjoyable and thoughtful.

– Scott Yanow