Armen Nalbandian (born April 6, 1978, in Manchester, England) is a jazz pianist, composer, author, and humanitarian.
In addition to the piano, he has been known to perform on the prepared Fender Rhodes mechanical piano, and contributes to produce jazz, improvised and experimental music in California. Nalbandian is the composer of over 1100 works in addition to having led more than 22 different ensembles over the past decade. Nalbandian's compositions have included music for his trio, string quartets, orchestral music, music for theater, Armenian folk music, and "game pieces". His primary ensemble is the Armen Nalbandian Trio. From 2004-2008, Nalbandian served as the Music Director/Artist-in-Residence of the Fresno Art Museum, Artistic Director of Jazz @ the F.A.M. and curator of the Rhythms of Art. Nalbandian is also the Artistic Director of the F.O.R.M. (Festival of Resurrected Music). Nalbandian is a protegee of pianist John Hicks and has performed with Billy Higgins and Han Bennink. Nalbandian is the founder of Blacksmith Brother Music. In 2008, Nalbandian was named as a finalist in the 2008 Gilles Peterson Worldwide Talent Search. Armen Nalbandian returned to performance on January 20, 2009, as Music Director for the Day One Event, celebrating the inauguration of Barack Obama and a few weeks later in a tribute to Hip Hop producer J Dilla in a benefit for Jay Dee's mother, Ma Dukes, at which Nalbandian was joined by rapper Fashawn for the performance of Common's "The Light". Nalbandian and Fashawn collaborated again in March 2010 for a tribute to the Notorious B.I.G. In September 2009, Nalbandian appeared in the play 'Semblance: Notes from the Promised Land' written by Devoya Mayo. The final act of the play featured a soliloquy written and performed by Nalbandian.
Since 2011, Nalbandian has taken a hiatus from live performance with the exception of a pair of impromptu duet performances with comedian Dave Chappelle at Yoshi's Jazz Club. Nalbandian's recent activity has expanded beyond music to encompass writing articles on fashion, the design of a sneaker, and the repurposing of his online culture and lifestyle magazine, The Blacksmith Brotherhood to a non-proft charitable organization. Nalbandian released his 8th album, Surrounded by Snakes, on March 15, 2013.
Nalbandian has frequently used his position as a musician to perform many humanitarian services. He has raised thousands of dollars in aid for the victims of Hurricane Katrina by way of many benefit concerts. Nalbandian has also raised money for organizations as diverse as The United Way, The Red Cross, the ONE Campaign, Habitat for Humanity, The American Cancer Society, Breast Cancer Research and The Relay for Life Foundation, among others. Nalbandian launched his not-for-profit charitable organization, The Blacksmith Brotherhood, in 2012.
Nalbandian frequently references the art of Jean-Michel Basquiat in his work and song titles. Numerous compositions throughout his discography reference specific Basquiat paintings and graffiti. Two of Nalbandian's albums, "Young Kings Get Their Heads Cut Off" and "To Repel Ghosts", reference Basquiat in their titles; both albums featuring cover art that evokes his art. Nalbandian also presented a concert inspired by Basquiat's work in March 2008 during his tenure as Artist-in-Residence at the Fresno Art Museum.