by Joseph Zeytoonian, John Manoush & Leon Janikian.
Three friends from the Armenian enclave of Watertown, Massachusetts, all recent college graduates in their very early 20s, convened for a recording project in a farmhouse in Greenfield, Massachusetts over a long weekend in 1970. The group’s leader Joe Zeytoonian recalls that they they brought a jug of cheap Portuguese rose and recorded no more than three takes of any of the songs. Having sung in the Erevan Chorale founded in 1955 in Watertown by a scholarly, paraplegic priest named Oshagan Minassian (b. 1929; d. 2008), Zeytoonian and the guitarist and singer John Manoush made personal and deeply earnest arrangements of the repertoire of the choral group. Their efforts were recorded by a budding engineer, Leon Janikian, who took exceptional care in all aspects of the production and played soprano recorded on two tunes.
The results group of songs on the subjects of nostalgia, yearning, and flowering love were pressed in an edition of perhaps 250 LPs. Zeytoonian’s mentor Minassian, whom they had taken considerable effort to thank for having introduced them to the music, was dismissive of the album, taking issue with diction and pronunciation here and there. Efforts to drum up interest from the local Armenian music establishment were similarly viewed without enthusiasm for the efforts of the young hippie musicians.
Soon after the session, Manoush departed for Peace Corp work in Brazil and has since settled in Maine where he has worked in food safety. Janikian earned a Masters degree in Music Theory and Composition from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, opened a recording studio, worked as a clarinetist, and is an Associate Professor Emeritus at Northeastern University in Boston. Zeytoonian continues a successful career as an oudist, having earned several awards, toured widely across the U.S., Turkey, Japan, Latin America, and Tajikistan, and has recorded and played with musicians including Gloria Estefan, Shakira, Jon Secada, Fred Elias, and Dave Liebman. He has led many bands and lives and works in south Florida with his partner, dancer and percussionist Myriam Eli.
released October 15, 2023