Sanem Kalfa and George Dumitriu have been working together for more than 10 years. The duo frequently give performances in Holland, and bring together many different elements such as improvization, traditional Turkish music, electronic music, syncopated rhythms and Brazilian music under the framework of jazz.
Sanem Kalfa is known for her unique style which combines many different colors of traditional Turkish music with jazz. The musician, born in Trabzon, Turkey, played the cello for 12 years and then started to work as a jazz vocalist. She moves to Holland in 2007. The musician studied jazz at Prins Claus Conservatory and was awarded the second place in Nederlands Jazz Vocal Concour during the second year of her studies. She went to New York in 2009 as an exchange student and worked with prominent jazz musicians such as JD Walter, Gretchen Parlato, Sheila Jordan and Roberta Gambarini. She recorded the album “Türkü” with Akropola Quartet, lead by Slovenian pianist Kaja Draksler. She won the first place in 44th Montreux Jazz Festival’s Jazz Voice competition, in which Quincy Jones was the head of the jury. Her album called Nehir was released in 2015. She is currently performing in Europe with her own band and occasionally in Istanbul with various projects.
Sanem welcome, what have you been up to?
I have great news. We will be recording with George Dumitriu on the 16th of October on Monday. We made an album in which trumpet player Ambrose Akinmusire in January but unfortunately we had some fundamental disagreements with the production company we were working with, and ended up having the stop the release just 2 days before the planned date. We participated in InJazz Rotterdam showcase right afterwards and our performance attracted a lot of attention. Now we are getting ready for a new tour with the support of Romanian Jazz Network. By the way, we were invited to Tromso Jazz Festival in Norway in August. We were on the stage on my birthday, it was an amazing memory. We will perform at Bimhuis, the most prestigious stage in Amsterdam, on the 5th of January.
You have been working with George for 10 years, is that correct?
Yes, this musical journey made our music even freer than before. We give the promise of a journey to many different places of the world, accompanied by many different feelings, dreams and mysteries in our new album. We will share our pieces soon. We will first release the EP, and then whatever our hearts wish for, in the most convenient way to reach our listeners.
I don’t believe you only work on duo projects?
No, of course not. In addition to our duo with George, there is a new project coming up that really excites me. I am really excited because I will take part in it both as a cellist and a singer. Oğuz Büyükberber said “We always drink coffee, let’s make a little music too” and invited me and Claron Mc Fadden as guests to his Oğuz Büyükberber & Tobias Klein Duo. I cannot wait to play the cello on the stage after such a long time and to perform with such great musicians. I believe the program will be ready around June and the concerts will start then.
What is happening in Amsterdam?
There is an incredible circulation of music in Amsterdam, it is possible to watch 3-5 concerts every week. I love getting out of a concert and coming back home with many ideas in my head. Half of it disappears by the time I drive my bike back home, but I fill the glass with new ideas in the following concerts.
How are your own concerts going?
I started working on something that requires a lot of effort, I hope to persevere. I will give my first solo concert on the 27th of January. This was a plan that I have been wanting to do for years, but I kept putting it on the shelf. I thought it doesn’t make much sense to postpone it further and dived right in. It will be a program with an emphasis on improvization and electronics. I hope it will be an enjoyable start for me.
Lastly, I have been performing periodically for 6 years with Steven Kamperman Trio, lead by Dutch clarinet and saxophone player Steve Kamperman, which includes George Dumitriu and I. 2 years ago wonderful musicians Michael Godard (tuba, serpent) and Oene Van Geel (viola) joined us and we recorded an album after a tour of 10 concerts. We will do the album launch with this quintet in November and will perform at prominent venues in Holland such as Tivoli Vrendenburg and Plus Etag.