Serhan Erkol: “Motel ATM”
Kabak & Lin (2017)
Serhan Erkol (saxophone, ney)
Alper Yılmaz (bass)
Ercüment Orkut (piano)
Volkan Öktem (drums)
1. Motel ATM
2. Ölü Adam
7. Hine Binin li Te şte Kin
8. Çay Benim Çeşme Benim
I first heard and started to follow Serhan’s work in “The Hybrid Project” album by professor Donovan Mixon, who gave Ear Training classes in the Jazz Performance Department of Bilgi University in the years when the department was most influential in Turkish jazz (If I am not mistaken, this is the first recording experience of Ferit Odman as well). Serhan became a fundamental part in many different projects in the years that followed, and he has always been a band member who brought balance to the group he is playing with. It is hard to list his discography and countless performances, but following his work in the albums of Yavuz Akyazıcı Project, Çağıl Kaya, Selen Gülün, and more recently in Esra Kayıkçı’s “Bozgun Hatıra” album, it didn’t come as a surprise when, in a conversation that we had after his performance at The Badau, he said that he has finished recording his newest album. His time has come.
After thinking “Numbered days go by faster”, recording label Kabak & Lin, just like it has recently introduced many great albums and high quality music to jazz lovers, gave us Serhan’s “Motel ATM” album on the 24th of February and proved that they are doing their job just right. Saxophonist Serhan is accompanied by Ercüment Orkut, Volkan Öktem and Alper Yılmaz, who almost became the members of our family already!
The first few seconds of the titular first piece ‘Motel ATM’ start with dark grey and melancholic rhythms of these three musicians. After Serhan joins in, the piece becomes a symbol for driving in a rainy Istanbul evening, witnessing an alternative life on the streets that seems to persevere in today’s conditions.
I listened to ‘Ölü Adam’ very attentively after hearing about it from Kubilay Devrim Dikkaya, who also writes for Jazz Dergisi, and this piece was written with the influence of the theme music of the movie “Dead Man”, whose musical score was written by Neil Young and directed by Jim Jarmusch. The fact that this piece comes after ‘Motel ATM’ gives the impression that this is a ‘concept album’. Ercüment’s leadership during this piece is interesting.
Alper Yılmaz dazzles the listener during “Benekli” and “Penta” with a ‘Different City, Different Mood’ kind of maturity and possibly scores his final goal in the 90+3 extensions just before he leaves for the States. The silent storm Volkan Öktem impresses by keeping the discipline between himself and Alper Yılmaz intact during the piece, and by drawing the listener in as a co-conspirator in this experience.
Beyoğlu’s lovely neighborhood Çukurcuma, which embodies all sorts of identities, all sorts of different lives, all the colors of the spectrum, cats wearing all these colors and the possibility of finding answers to questions about life, fills the hearts once more through the piece “Çukurcuma”. The way Serhan and Volkan Öktem perform this piece within the boundaries of a gradual but unshakable system is an experience that is worth paying close attention to.
Serhan plays the intro almost like playing the ‘duduk’ (a folk instrument) during “Hinê Bînin Li Teştê Kin” that makes the listener wonder “Is this that piece?” This piece is the original version of the song called “Kınayı Getir Aney” that is traditionally played during henna nights. Right during the middle, Ercüment and Volkan bring the piece to an uptempo level and meet with Serhan at the finale, making this moment one of the climaxes of the album.
Due to the fact that I have spent the summers of my childhood in Antalya-Lara, I really like the Antalya-Korkuteli folk song “Çay Benim, Çeşme Benim”. It was a great surprise for me to hear this piece with such an unforgettable interpretation! “Çay Benim, Çeşme Benim” can be a great introductory piece for those who haven’t listened to Serhan, who plays as a duo with Alper Yılmaz.
“Devr-i Kebir” embodies one of the most striking methods of Classical Turkish Music with its 28/4 rhythm. This piece, which is the final title in the album, starts out with the relaxing ney (a traditional instrument) playing of Serhan and it draws to a close with one of the most successful solos of Ercüment in this album.
“Motel ATM” is a great example of a first solo album of a musician, making the listener “think in modern mentality” with its creativity and the contribution of this special group of musicians.