Highly influenced by Thelonious Monk,[1] Nalbandian performs jazz, free & avant-garde jazz, improvised and experimental music. While his primary ensemble is the Armen Nalbandian Trio, he has led more than 30 different ensembles and composed over 1200 works ranging from music for string quartets, chamber music, orchestral music, electronic music, scores for theater, experimental hiphop, ‘Conduction’ pieces inspired by Butch Morris’ approach, new Japanese & Armenian inspired folk music, and John Zorn inspired "game pieces,” in addition to having performed a solo piano concert of Zorn’s Masada music with the encouragement and blessing of the composer.[3][4] His active groups include the Armen Nalbandian Trio (w. Eric Revis & Nasheet Waits), Armen Nalbandian V (w. Jeff Parker Chris Speed, Eric Revis, & Alex Cline), and the Armen Nalbandian 3 (w. Steve Lehman & Guillermo E. Brown).

Nalbandian cites witnessing a Cecil Taylor performance at LA’s Jazz Bakery when he was 19 years old as a major revelation and turning point in his life and career.

Armen Nalbandian is the protege of jazz pianist John Hicks, but also credits Bill Dixon, McCoy Tyner, as being important teachers in his artistic development in addition to learning invaluable lessons from jazz greats Charlie Haden, Jackie McLean, Horace Silver, Cedar Walton, Billy Higgins, Art Farmer, and Harold Land.

Nalbandian has played and/or recorded with Billy Higgins, Han Bennink, Eric Revis, Nasheet Waits, Bennie Maupin, Jeff Parker, Chris Speed, Steve Lehman, Guillermo E. Brown, Derek Keller, Marvin "Smitty" Smith, Tony Dumas, Carl Allen, & Alex Cline.[7]

Nalbandian is also known for his multidisciplinary collaborations in visual and fine art which notably include a 4-year residency at the Fresno Art Museum where he served as Music Director/Artist-in-Residence. Additional collaborations have included original compositions featuring poets Sunni Patterson, Lee Herrick, and Tim Z. Hernandez; as a member of funk/soul artist Nino Moschella’s touring band for The Fix and Boom Shadow, composing and arranging the Music of Mexico for the Fresno Philharmonic, and composing the original experimental electronic score for The Artist’s Repertory Theater production of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Nalbandian established his own record label, Blacksmith Brother in 2006.[8][9]

In 2008, Nalbandian was named as a finalist in the 2008 Gilles Peterson Worldwide Talent Search[10][11] and has received considerable praise from his contemporaries including Dave Douglas, Susie Ibarra and Matthew Shipp who called Nalbandian “a truly great modern musician with an expansive understanding of the jazz tradition and then some.”

In 2011 and 2012, Nalbandian had multiple improvised performances with comedian Dave Chappelle at Yoshi's Jazz Club in both Oakland and San Francisco.

In 2017, Armen Nalbandian premiered two new ensembles to add to his work with his trio with Eric Revis and Nasheet Waits and his solo piano work. The first, a new quintet named Armen Nalbandian V featuring Chris Speed, Jeff Parker, Eric Revis & Alex Cline and the Armen Nalbandian 3 with Steve Lehman & Guillermo E. Brown; loosely inspired by Cecil Taylor’s trio with Jimmy Lyons and Andrew Cyrille.

In October 2017, Nalbandian premiered a solo piano piece by Wadada Leo Smith entitled Majestic


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