Aram Bajakian’s career as a musician has been one of experimentation. Having played in multiple groups and with a few music legends, the guitarist’s distinctive playing style stands out no matter what genre he is exploring. Part Hendrix, part jazz-rock fusion, his technique can range from absolute chaos to catchy riffs to beautiful, icy notes.
While music has always been an essential part of his life, Bajakian named Led Zeppelin and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as two different sounds that inspired him during his formative years.
“All my life, there was music. There was no first. But I loved Jimmy Page. I had a picture of him on my desk when I was in 5th grade,” he said. “And I’ll never forget hearing the overture for ‘Don Giovanni’ the first time. That is punk rock.”
Fast-forwarding to the present day, Bajakian decided to look back to his interactions with blues music for his new album, “there were also flowers in hell,” which was released on Feb. 1. The instrumental record opens with “Texas Cannonball,” a homage to blues guitarist Freddie King.
According to Bajakian’s artistic statement on the album, it was motivated by thinking back to his youth, when he listened to his uncle play the blues on a 1940s Steel guitar and going to see blues masters like B.B. King and Clarence Gatemouth Brown. While he had set out to make a blues record, bassist Shahzad Ismaily’s and Jerome Jennings’ unique styles transformed it into something else: a melding of dense, chaotic sounds and moments of fragile beauty.
“They have a different energy. It’s beautiful. Obviously, I chose to play with them because of their musicality, but what’s more important is the energy and presence of each member,” Bajakian said. “They really honor the music and where it’s going. It’s spiritual.”
Besides his solo work, Bajakian played on “Abraxas: Book of Angels Volume 19,” an album of John Zorn compositions by Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz. He is also a member of Kef, a chamber string trio playing fresh arrangements of traditional Armenian songs.
“Well, Kef has no drums. So that’s a big difference. And we’re playing punked-out Armenian dance songs. So you think you would need drums, but in fact that’s what makes the group great,” he said. “It has the exact opposite of what you’d expect.”
Bajakian has drawn the attention of well-known artists like Zorn, Lou Reed and Diana Krall, all of whom he has performed with. While these gigs are special, it comes as part of Bajakian’s goal to continuously play music.
“I take every gig I can get. All the memories of playing are great. There’s no favorite because if you really love playing music, it’s all a joy,” he said. “That being said, playing in Taormina, Sicily with Lou Reed while Mount Etna is erupting in the background was pretty awesome.”
For more information about all of Bajakian’s projects and shows, visit his website at http://arambajakian.com.