Seda Binbaşgil has been teaching Jazz Appreciation I & II classes at Boğaziçi University for 12 years each semester. She has been introducing new albums every week during her “Esintiler” program at Açık Radio for 20 years. She also teaches Philosophy and Cinema classes at Simya Gallery. She was active as a writer for Jazz Dergisi in the past.
The classes she teaches at Boğaziçi University are as below:
Jazz Appreciation I
The intention of this course is to turn you onto jazz! The first part of this two-semester-course discusses its origins, fundamentals of improvisation; covers all periods of jazz history from its beginnings until the end of the “Cool Jazz” era and most of the key musicians. The discussions will not only be from a musical perspective but will also touch upon the interrelations of jazz with economics, politics, history & other social dimensions. Particular attention will be paid to the audio and visual presentation of the material with the goal of improving comprehension and retention. Although the course does not require any technical knowledge of music, listening to jazz –both recorded and live- is strongly encouraged.
Jazz Appreciation II
FA 496 is a guide to appreciating jazz. The course will pick up where FA 495 left off, ultimately covering the remaining key styles of jazz (Free, Avantgarde, Fusion, Latin, Contemporary) and most of the key musicians. (Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans etc.) The discussions will not only be from a musical perspective, but will also accentuate the interrelations of jazz with economics, politics, history & other social dimensions. Particular attention will be paid to the audio and visual presentation of the material to improve comprehension and retention. Although FA 495 (Jazz Appreciation I) is not a prerequisite for FA 496, students are encouraged to take it before this one. In any case, there will be a brief review of some of the first semester topics. The course does not require any technical knowledge of music, but listening to jazz –both recorded and live- is strongly encouraged.
The students are required to turn in two projects in addition to participating in the midterm and final exams.
The projects are listed below:
The students attend a jazz concert and evaluate it.
The students compare the original version of a piece they particularly enjoy (in any genre) and compare it to a jazz improv version that they like as much as the original or more. (Example: If the student chooses Exit Music for a Film, they need to compare the Radiohead original with the Brad Mehldau original; if My Favorite Things from “Sound of Music” is chosen they compare it with the John Coltrane version. There are endless examples like Selda Bağcan’s “Ayrılık” and Önder Focan’s “Standard a La Turc”. We will share such examples in the future.
We will publish student essays for the Concert Evaluation class in this sergement. The fourth and last example is Kestutis Vaiginis Quartet concert which took place at Nardis Jazz Club on the 22nd of March 2018.
Kestutis Vaiginis Quartet Concert
On 22nd of March, my classmates from FA496 Jazz Appreciation class and I went to Nardis Jazz Club which is in the heart of Istanbul, very few meters away from Galata Tower. That night there was a concert by Kestutis Vaiginis Quartet. Vaiginis, Lithuanian tenor saxophone player, was leading the quartet and other members of quarter were Ercüment Orkut (p), Kağan Yıldız(b), Ferit Odman(d).
When we got into the club, I was charmed by the sophisticated design of venue. Nardis has a small stage at the corner which carries a piano, and all place covered by wooden tables and chairs. Inside, there was natural and loess lights which was accompanied by small candles on the tables. At the other corner, that is across the stage, there were the bar and the stairs which let you sit and taste the ‘jazz’ on the upper floor. Although it was a Thursday night, almost all chairs were occupied. Another detail which made me surprised was the multinational background of the audiences. We could see people from many color and language. In front of the stage, we had a table which was already reserved for us. We sat at our place and waited for the time.
At 21:45, the group started to play. The first tune was Monday the 9th, it was like a warm-up. They played the head and after every member of quartet made their solos one by one. While they were soloing one by one I remembered tag-team technic in ‘Milestones’. They introduced themselves by using their music and next one followed previous one. In the first set, quartet performed Sentimental Definition, Blues for D, It’s Time, Lights of Darkness respectively. The closing tune of the set was ‘Lights of Darkness’, and that is the head tune of Kestutis Vaiginis’s album and which gives the name of the album. The tune was fast, and it has dynamic rhythm. The band caught the audiences and built a way inside them. They were so excited and energetic; as an example, while Kağan Yıldız(b) was soloing he didn’t let Vaiginis(ts) played the head and there was also another moment which dazzled us, that was the moment of the drum solo. Before the break there was a moment which accelerated our heartbeats and also one of the unforgettable moment of the night, Ferit Odman(d) made an improvisation about 2-3 minutes, and he showed us his soul. We felt his ‘jazz’. He took the rhythm, crushed it, modified it and served to the audience. I was sure that some people would die due to forgetting breathing.
Kestutis Vaiginis Quartet started the second set with a jazz standard, Cherokee as a New Orleans shuffle instead of up tempo version and they kept playing with New Passion from Georgia, Injection, Wild Animals. Finally, they finished with a jazz standard Four by Miles Davis. After finishing, Vaiginis talked about next concert of the band at the next day. He called us to come to Lithuania to listen to them. He mentioned that there are still available flight tickets. When they got off the stage my classmates and I found a chance to talk with the band. Ferit Odman(d) introduced us to the band. We talked about the night, our class and teacher and the tunes that performed tonight. Odman advised us to listen to Four by Miles Davis and made a little quiz about Jazz Standards. Especially I was impressed by the performance of Ferit Odman. He is a super-talented drummer. He guides the beat and rules the audience. In my opinion his last solo in the first set was the top performance. He made everything a musician could do. He made his jazz even with his screams and applause.
That was my first jazz club experience and I want to continue listening and following Nardis. Nardis is an extraordinary place and after that I proposed myself about to come Nardis to reward my soul. I left the place with ‘jazz’ in my soul and smile in my face.