In June, 2002, I returned (in body at least!) from a 3-1/2 month journey to teach Jazz at the Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory (YSC) in Armenia as a Fulbright Scholar and perform as a participant in Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM), a worldwide program sponsored by the US Department of State and the Smithsonian Museum. Another part of me, however, is still over there...
Additional performances and master classes in Russia, Georgia, Romania and France were also presented in cooperation with the American Consulates in St. Petersburg, Tblisi and Bucharest.
I had first visited Armenia in 1998 to perform in the Yerevan International Jazz Festival and present a week of Jazz workshops at YSC. Responding to student interest and with support from corporate, foundation and private sponsors in the USA, Germany and Armenia, I subsequently founded the Jazz in Armenia Project and organized trips in 1999 and 2000 to teach and perform.
During the second of these trips, I learned that a Fulbright open lecturing position at YSC for the 2001-2 academic year was available. I applied for it and in 2002 I was granted the award. This was the beginning of a thrilling chapter in my life.
Taking a one semester leave from my position at New School University (USA) where I have been teaching in the Jazz and Contemporary Music Program since 1986, I boarded an Air France flight bound for Paris on February 21st, 2002 for the first leg of my Fulbright journey.
During the two-day layover, I called upon my longtime friends Bernard Maury, pianist and director of the Bill Evans Piano Academy, and Frederic Manoukian, one of Europe's most active freelance composers and arrangers and my host in Paris. They helped me celebrate [fig 1] before departing on February 23rd for St. Petersburg (Russia) and points eastward.