Dear Eray Aytimur, a peer writer for jazzdergisi.com whose opinions I have the utmost respect for, wrote the sentence above in her article she wrote for Hürriyet’s “Kitap Sanat” (meaning “Book and Art”) supplement, which is one of the few publications left that focuses on art. We grimace and feel sad at the same time, thinking “Actually, she has a point!”…
However, even though we huff and puff and complain about the situation Eray is talking about as music lovers, we are rejoiced by the fact that we have access to an event like XJazz Festival, as well as to concerts during IKSV Istanbul Jazz, Akbank Jazz and Garanti Jazz Green organizations, taking it as a sign that “it’s not over yet”…
Originating from Berlin, XJAZZ isn’t quite as comprehensive as IKSV or Akbank Jazz in our country just yet, but the quality of the participating musicians speaks for itself. This is the third time XJAZZ takes place in Turkey with the sponsorship of Goethe Institut, Kabak & Lin and peoplexpeople. If I remember correctly, Turkish musicians Alper Yılmaz Trio and Ediz Hafızoğlu participated to last year’s XJAZZ in Berlin with their “Nazdrave” project, making it a great experience to witness the cooperation between our musicians and foreign ones who visited our country this time around!
XJAZZ took place in Istanbul and Ankara in Turkey. I really wish I could experience the atmosphere in the venues as created by the great jazz audience in Ankara and by their love for music and musicians, but I postponed this dream to the next festival and opted for Istanbul. The venue sponsors of XJAZZ in Istanbul were Akbank Sanat, Babylon Bomonti, Borusan Sanat, Clique Istanbul, kargART, KadıköySahne, Kaset Mitanni, KLEIN, Nardis Jazz Club, Nevizade Peyote, Salon IKSV and Zorlu PSM.
I believe that this year’s XJAZZ Festival was very beneficial for me in many aspects. My biggest wish was to listen to foreign musicians performing with Turkish ones and to experience the synergy they create together, instead of merely listening to solo or band performances of foreign musicians as I did countless times before, and to see the effect of this synergy on the audience without any prejudices or ideas beforehand. I wished to listen to music that I have never heard before and experience an evening with the freshest of notes during XJAZZ Festival which brings together the creative forces of foreign and Turkish musicians. A big thank you to the XJAZZ, Kabak & Lin and everyone who worked on the creative team!
I spared Wednesday and Thursday evenings to Nardis Jazz Club, a place that feels like a second home to me. Yürüyen Merdiven performed on Wednesday evening. I know their work from their collaboration with Ülkü Aybala Sunat and the teaser of their “Çınar, Güneş ve Bir Deli” album released by Kabak & Lin. The band consists of Yiğit Özatalay on the piano and the vocals and Mustafa Kemal Emirel on the drums. Their album was released a year ago, and I felt angry at myself for missing out on such an album and such a rare band after listening to their performance at Nardis Jazz Club with Kristian Lind on the double bass.
Yürüyen Merdiven shows us some unchanging characters and places in the special world everyone creates for themselves through their own perspectives by forming an unbreakable bond with the audience. They made us feel as if all of us have a “Hüseyin” in our lives, that all of us have met “Kırmızı Paltolu bir Kız” (“The Girl with The Red Coat”) some point in our lives, whose hand we held as we got on the ferry to travel to Kadıköy via ”Haydarpaşa” to enjoy a coup grillet at Hotel Baylan during this theatric evening just like a fairy-tale. Yiğit’s Bülent Ortaçgil-esque vocals and the harmony between Kristian and Mustafa Kemal left one thing to do for the audience: to enjoy ourselves.
I quickly went to Harem after passing through the rush hour traffic on Thursday. It has been such a long time since I have enjoyed the setting sun in the evening like this! I had Esra Kayıkçı’s Bozgun Hatıra album playing in my head as I walked towards Nardis Jazz Club to enjoy her performance with Sebastian Studnitzky. Sebastian has worked with Nils Landgren, Rebekka Bakken as well as guitarist Dominic Miller, and has founded his own recording label Contemplate in 2012. He put the XJAZZ organization into motion in 2014, making it one of the numerous jazz festivals in Germany and in Europe. It was exciting to meet him just before he was set to released his next album, a continuation of his KY series, called “Organic”. One of the most interesting aspects of this concert, in which Esra’s “Bozgun Hatıra” album and some cover pieces were performed, was the strong bond that formed without much rehearsal between Sebastian Studnitzky, Esra and the band. Sebastian dazzled the audience with his heavily Nordic-influenced solos, accompanied by Esra’s great vocals and Hakan Kamalı on the guitar, Can Kalyoncu on the drums, Eren Turgut on the double bass, Yahya Dai on the saxes and the EWI, and pianist Uraz Kıvaner who recently came back from a trip to the States.
I was particularly excited for the third evening, because Istanbul + Berlin Ensemble would perform and “bring the forces of different worlds fully together”! Zorlu PSM has been preparing themselves for their own jazz festival in the upcoming weeks with small concerts which could be considered test-drives on their Studio and Drama Stages, brought together Tobias Backhaus on the drums, Sebastian Studnitzky on the piano/trumpet, one of the most successful female Turkish jazz vocalists Elif Çağlar Muslu, one of my idols and the top names of Kabak & Lin, Ediz Hafızoğlu, and Matt Hall on the double bass, whose projects I try to follow closely. The band performed a selection of pieces from Elif Çağlar and Sebastian Studnitzky’s compositions. They had to perform as a trio (Tobias/Sebastian/Elif) for a while due to Matt Hall feeling unwell, but after a few pieces the whole band was able to make the audience feel the excitement they were expecting by giving them an evening of creativity and improvization.
Fourth night marked the release concert of Çağrı Sertel’s second studio album ‘Instant’ at Babylon Bomonti. Çağrı was accompanied by Sarp Maden on the guitar, Volkan Hürsever on the double bass, Engin Recepoğulları on the saxophone and Volkan Öktem on the drums during this first performance of his new album, which lasted for about an hour. Even though Çağ Erçağ’s cello was missed, the band didn’t compromise from their professional attitude and set Babylon Bomonti on fire with their performance of ‘Stairs’. They played the most beloved piece from ’Newborn’ album, ‘Burning Circles’, as the encore and we said our farewell to the festival through this special piece. A small reminder: You will soon be able to read my review of Instant on jazzdergisi.com, you can look out for it!
Shortly put: We listened to some great and high-quality music at a well-organized festival. How will we ever be able to wait until next year?!