When I See You: From the November 1917 Recordings, NYC

by Kemany Minas & Garabet Merjanian



No one knows or, apparently will ever know, who the great Kemany Minas was. “Kemany” indicates only he was a great fiddler - which he was. An Armenian, he carried the common surname Minas. An apparently posthumous inquiry by the historian Dzotsigian in the 40s found people who claimed him as having from the Malatya district of present-day south-central Turkey. It would be reasonable to guess that he was born in the Ottoman Empire before 1890, but that’s hedging all bets.

We only know that he first recorded at the Dec. 5, 1916 sessions for the Victor Records sessions of Karekin Proodian, where he made six sides an accompanist and a further half-dozens as a soloist. In November 1917, he and the Armenian oudist Garabet Merjanian and an unknown kanun player collaboratively recorded a total of 24 sides over several sessions for Columbia, of which we present here 14 sides. After that, he vanishes without a trace.

Turkish language recording in the U.S. had only begun in 1912 and by about 1919, both major companies – Victor and Columbia – had ceased recording Turkish-language material. Minas’ powerful recording of “Eghin Havasi,” the ballad of a late-19th century slaughter of Armenian in the village of Agin near the Euphrates by the Ottoman military, was certainly an especially good-seller, having gone through several pressings and staying in print for more than a decade.

Where did he go? Why did he never apparently appear on any further recordings on the Armenian-owned labels that arose around 1920? Was he a public performer? Who was Kemany Minas? We’ll never know, it seems. Similarly, his collaborator, Garabet Merjanian, has eluded biographical research.
But it is also clear that they were gifted performers of the Near Eastern immigrant community who music, arising from rural Turkey, remains powerful.

These 99-year-old performances, recorded acoustically six years before the invention of microphones, have been given serious, if not definitive restoration. Our hope is that the performances may be heard fully without undue distraction by defects in the original discs.
They are presented here simply in the order in which they were recorded.


released August 3, 2016

Kemany Minas - violin & voice
Garabet Merjanian - oud & voice (as noted)
unknown kanun & clarinet performers.

compilation, transfer & restoration by Ian Nagoski
title translations by Harry Kezelian



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