Akbank Jazz Festival, a first in presenting jazz in the festival format in Turkey, is celebrating its 27th year by hosting the most prominent names of European Jazz once more. Young and upcoming local musicians perform alongside with legendary talents, contributing to great musical development. All that is left for us to do is to wait for November to arrive in excitement, and to enjoy these concerts fully.
Babylon, which has watched years go by while generations renew themselves and music culture develop in different directions every second, seems to be one of the hot spots of the festival with 15 performances scheduled on its stage.
As Jazz Dergisi, we will follow the 27th Akbank Jazz Festival closely. One of the most exciting festival concerts was İlhan Erşahin’s “Istanbul Sessions” project, which I watched live for the first time. This project was born in 2008 and Erşahin has released 5 albums (including the remix albums). His concert in Babylon was a selection from these albums, and he was accompanied by his bandmates from “Wonderland” project Alp Ersönmez and İzzet Kızıl on bass guitar and percussion, and Turgut Alp Bekoğlu on the drums.
The band started the concert with a dynamic piece. From what I have heard, this piece will be included in the upcoming album, which will be released soon. Staying true to the Babylon and İlhan Erşahin’s original ‘Nublu’ sound, they played pieces from the first album with Erik Truffaz, the second album “Night Rider” and the latest “Istanbul Underground” album. The audience seemed to be in a trance right from the start, dancing as if there is no tomorrow. The pieces follow one another: “Sarıyer”, “Falling”, “Etnik”, “Freedom”, “McCoy” and many more… Alp Ersönmez’s ceaseless tempo is easy to follow for the audiences, accompanied by the incredible harmony between Turgut Alp Bekoğlu and İzzet Kızıl. This seems to be a sign that Erşahin will never disappoint on this platform.
What I like the most about İlhan Erşahin’s music is that I keep getting lost in dead-end streets and start right from the beginning once more while trying to find the commonalities in the pieces of the project and guessing the musical phenomenon he has created in his head. Ultimately, there must be many stories only Erşahin knows and can tell repeatedly without tiring when asked through his “Home” album with Larry Grenadier and Kenny Wollesen, Wax Poetic albums, or somewhere in between “Wonderland” psychology and “Love Trio” mentality.
Babylon witnessed another great İlhan Erşahin experience. He told us a story he is familiar with and fond of, taking strength from his beloved characters, and then moved on. I hope he will visit us once more soon, because I realized that it has been a while since I heard to such a great story.