Oğuz Büyükberber Quintet: “Off Monk”
Kabak & Lin (2017)
Oğuz Büyükberber (bass clarinet)
Tobias Klein (bc)
Tolga Tüzün (p)
Çağlayan Yıldız (b)
Can Kozlu (d)
1. Well You Needn’t
2. Straight No Chaser
3. In Walker Bud
4. Off Minor (Take One)
5. Bemsha Swing
6. Off Minor (Take Two)
When people asked me “What kind of music do you listen to?” or “Do you play an instrument?”, my answer would always be “Guitar!” when I was in high school. Of course, just like any other teenager who has barely caught the 90s, I would listen to rock music. I had guitarists as my idols and as all amateur musicians, my aim was to play like them. However, there was one difference: I wasn’t listening to rock music of the 90s but instead I especially listened to the 70s. For example, I really liked Jethro Tull, I would listen to their albums countless times on my CD and record players…
Of course, those times are over; my love for acoustic, electric and bass guitars subsided and left its place to different genres, changes and colors. During that period, I learnt about Selim Sesler through Fatih Akın’s film “Gegen die Wand / Duvara Karşı”. I was incredibly enchanted and happy to own the albums of a musician who was known as the “Coltrane of Turkish music”. I dragged my father along to Tünel and got myself a clarinet: I finally knew which instrument I was going to play!
I was doing research to satiate my psyche hungry for some quality music, and I got ahold of 2 albums: “az” and “4”. The name written on the cover in a huge font was already enough to change my perspective on many things: “Oğuz Büyükberber“.
I thought of Ian Anderson after listening to the piece called ‘Mor Penguen’ from the album “Az”. The famous frontman of Jethro Tull has once stated “I can never make up my mind if I’m happy being a flute player, or if I wish I were Eric Clapton” during a documentary…
The conclusion? My guitars are in their cases, my bass guitar is in a corner and my clarinet is in its box!
Oğuz Büyükberber combines the “impossibility” I tried to convey above with professionality and presents us with his new album “Off Monk” released by Kabak + Lin.
From the very first few seconds, you can feel the “fresh” excitement of all the musicians including Oğuz Büyükberber in the album, which consists of beloved pieces by Thelonius Monk as reinterpreted with a new perspective by Oğuz Büyükberber Quintet.
Kabak + Lin raise their success level one step higher with every new album they release, and once more they present a very high-quality album to us listeners, proving that they are one of the 2-3 few teams who still manage to do so in this country. I think they must be rightfully very proud to work with their old friend once more, following the “4” album!
“Off Monk” proves that extraordinary things can overcome old prejudices and conquer the hearts of the listeners. The facts that Büyükberber makes this “conquest” with four musicians with mastery over their instruments, and that the music created belongs not only to Oğuz Büyükberber but to all of them distinguish this album with memorable melodies from its peers.
The adventure that started when I listened to “Well You Needn’t” after a long while at Nardis Young Jazz Vocal Competition included masterpieces like “Straight No Chaser”, and pieces waiting in the corner like precious but dusty books “Bemsha Swing” and “In Walked Bud” which can also be qualified as standards once more.
Do not worry: Listening to this album after listening to the unforgettable Monk compositions for years isn’t a tough on anyone! The quintet hint that they are steering mildly away from Monk’s music by naming the album “Off Monk”, and they surprise their audience by contributing to Monk’s rather uncomplicated pure music with their festive interpretation, showing the audience that they occasionally can make better music than Monk himself.
I recommend “Off Monk”, which brings the creativity of Oğuz Büyükberber and Tobias Klein together with Çağlayan Yıldız’s instructive and masterful notes, as well as master musician Tolga Tüzün, whose work I unfortunately haven’t followed after his 2009 AK Müzik album “Periphery” and with one of my idols, Can Kozlu, whose every single concert at Nardis Jazz Club I have attended to just to hear him play!