In life, it is important to create.
To create, and then to present the creation to the consumer, or more plainly put, to the “appreciation” of others, and then to continue on creating…
This applies to the musician as well. A musician has to create, it is in his nature, and even though we live in a period where only a few believes this, the main goal is not “simply to earn money”. The musician tells the spaces he imagines, the time he shapes, the sadness, the hate, the happiness, the joy and the love; he tells his ‘life’ in notes. He perpetually lives this with an insatiable pleasure.
I heard it somewhere, a great saying that I really enjoyed: “Everybody has a story to tell”. I think this is what a musician solely does: “telling his story”…
Of course, we music lovers start to follow the musicians whose stories we enjoy. We await their albums that were created with much effort, listen to their pieces which are like their children, follow their most personal stories that they tell through their notes and lyrics that penetrate into our hearts, always look for more, and we always want more.
The musician can offer us “more” during concerts. A small cafe, a small bar, an evening in a medium open air venue, or closed spaces, bigger concert halls… You are meters away from the musician in some, and only a breath away in the others.
However, they all have something in common: Those who create good music, and those who understand it meet each other in a special occasion.
Zorlu Performans Sanatları Merkezi / Zorlu PSM opened its doors in the 2013-2014 season and set a fire to the performance and arts scene with hosting world-famous musicals like “Cats” and “The Phantom of The Opera” in their Main Theater. At the same time, their Drama Stage and Studio, similar to the alternative stages in festivals, are equipped with high quality sound systems in professional levels, showing us how close these branches of arts actually can be to the audiences in our country.
Zorlu PSM has hosted jazz musicians who make their every note shine, such as Chris Botti, mÖE – MadenÖktemErsönmez, Kerem Görsev, Deniz Taşar, Esra Kayıkçı and Madeleine Peyroux, and as jazz lovers we were waiting for a successful series of concerts to take place. They seemed to have read our minds; they received full points from many, including our magazine, with their first-ever “Zorlu PSM Jazz Festival”, organized between 3-12 May, and its formation, preparation, direction and the positive feedback from the participants.
The festival, which started with Gaye Su Akyol’s performance in the Studio and Michel Camilo & Tomatito concert in the Main Theater on the 3rd of May, consisted of 19 concerts as main events, and the side activities included the screening of 10 movies, touched by jazz, 2 workshops, 1 panel and a LP market which resonated with the recently increasing demand for these records.
As Jazz Dergisi, our only goal is to present the best to you in the quickest fashion, helping you with whatever questions you might have in your head, and at the same time, to introduce the alternatives and different doors to you. Zorlu PSM Jazz Festival gave us the best examples for this, and our first participation to the festival was Esra Kayıkçı’s concert, whose album launch we attended as well. Esra was accompanied by saxophonist Yahya Dai and guitarist Hakan Kamalı from the launch team, and she was joined by Uraz Kıvaner on the piano, Can Kalyoncu on the drums and Eren Turgut on the double bass for this performance. They performed pieces from Esra’s first solo album “Bozgun Hatıra”, as well as beloved jazz standards in this pleasant evening.
Musicians who caused Nordic Jazz to rise up in the ranks of other sub-genres of jazz aren’t more than a few people. Saxophonist Jan Garbarek, who is possibly one of the most important ones among these musicians, was with us on the Main Stage on the 5th of May. Jazz lovers will mention Garbarek’s name in unison when ‘ECM’ is mentioned, but when all his ECM albums are considered, one cannot easily claim the music he creates is jazz. Garbarek’s love for the saxophone started when he heard “Countdown” from John Coltrane’s famous Atlantic album Giant Steps on the radio in 1961. This evening, which could be called a summary of the 60 years in between, he was accompanied by pianist Rainer Brüninghaus and double bassist Yuri Daniel, while he did not forget to bring an old friend along: Trilok Gurtu on the tabla. Jan Garbarek has performed with drummer Manu Katché and legendary double bass player Eberhard Weber for years, but his performances with the Zorlu PSM band goes back to the mid-2000s. The excitement in the Main Theater was satiated by the first piece Molde Canticle, which was followed by a setlist that was similar to that of last year’s Royal Festival Hall concert. The evening progressed through solos of Garbarek and the other musicians, as well as duo question and answer sessions. At some point Gurtu even used a filled bucket as a rhythm instrument, creating contemporary percussion sounds. The evening drew to an end with famous blues musician Steve Winwood’s “Had To Cry Today” from the Blind Faith years. Garbarek hadn’t changed since I listened to him in Germany 4-5 years ago, as I experienced the same excitement I did back then during this evening at Zorlu PSM.
I went to Zorlu’s Drama Stage for the first time for the third concert on the 9th of May, and yes, I will be honest; I have been waiting for this evening for a long time! I think “KAPI” project (you can find my album review on our website) is one of the best examples of Turkish-Italian collaboration. Selen Gülün, who played the piano, keyboard and the electronics, was accompanied by Emanuele De Raymondi on the guitar and the electronics and Marcello Allulli on the saxophone, while Ouchhh x Audiofil Data Performance Project “iOTA” accompanied the music on the stage with avant-garde and experimental 2D and 3D animations in the background. Light and physics met with music and gave birth to something powerful. Since I loved and listened to the 70s and 80s bands (Kraftwerk, Jean Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream, Brian Eno, etc.) in my high school years, I think the performance of KAPI, whose special music had similarities with these bands, was one of the most successful ones I have recently attended. I waited for my favorite piece “Passacaglia” and I have to mention that the lack of a full house was very unfortunate as the missing audience missed out on this concert.
I have called the Tuna Ötenel and Friends evening at Salon IKSV as the “most awaited concert of the year”, and I think it is closely followed by the concert of Chick Corea, who performed during the closing of Zorlu Jazz Festival, as well as the final performance of his own European tour! Chick Corea , who has won a Grammy for every single album he took part in as soloist or a sideman since the beginning of the 2000s, of course wasn’t alone. He was accompanied by one of my idols Brian Blade (the force behind many jazz musicians, who has gained popularity with his first Blue Note album “Fellowship” in 1998) with whom he has worked with for his last Grammy-winning album “Trilogy” and legendary musician Eddie Gomez who has worked with Marian McPartland, Paul Bley and Gerry Mulligan. Gomez was accompanied by Bill Evans during his golden years (1966-1977) and now they were all waiting for us at Zorlu PSM in the Main Theater for this exciting evening. One of the most interesting details I have observed was that the audience didn’t only show up for Chick Corea but also to see Blade, and especially Gomez. I conversed with my friend who are fans of Brian Blade and Eddie Gomez before the concert for a few minutes, and they commented that this concert will be one to remember. The concert took off with “500 Miles High”, and Chick Corea gave detailed information about the pieces, winning the hearts of the members of the audience and warming up the atmosphere. He played one piece after another: “Alice in Wonderland”, “A Spanish Song”, “Humpty Dumpty”, “How Deep Is The Ocean?”, “Anna’s Tango”, “But Beautiful”, “Sicily”… It wouldn’t come as a surprise that the audience shouted and demanded “Spain”, which is Chick Corea’s maybe most successful piece from Return To Forever period, as an encore and that their wish as granted. Another unforgettable detail of the evening was the fact that Brian Blade used Ferit Odman’s Gretsch Broadkaster drum kit throughout the concert.
A minor problem that arose during this great and professional organization: The festival went on without any problems with the sound system until the closing performance, but the fact that Eddie Gomez couldn’t be heard well until the 2nd or the 3rd piece during one of the most awaited concerts of the festival might not have effected the audience that was swept up by the magic of Chick Corea Trio and the legendary band members, but it made those of us who were attentively listening think and question.
I will relay the review of Semih Bolca, the founder of Funkbook fan group, since I could not attend this concert myself.
It is evident that all of Önder Focan’s pieces, which all have interesting stories, approach the funky sub-genre of jazz. This becomes even more evident when you look around during the performance and see almost all of the members of audience’s agreement on their faces.
Their concerts usually start with ‘İlk Yudum’, which is the first piece of the album and it draws you in right away. It is followed by the composition called ‘Jamming with the Ambassador’ which was born from a jam session between Önder Focan and an ambassador. ‘Komşunun Tavuğu’ follows and then you hear ‘A.B’s Dream’—close your eyes and imagine yourself in a corner in New Orleans. ‘Salatanın Suyu’ is my favorite piece and it highlights the personal performances of the members of the band. Next up are ‘Tempo’, ‘Sunburst Cat’, ‘Akşam’ and then ‘36mm Biometric’, which is about the composer’s irritation while trying to get a travel visa. One wonders if the consulate is aware of the existence of this piece.
They have an amazing new piece that they wrote after the album was released and they performed this piece called ‘Fir For’ during their concert at Zorlu PSM. The name comes from the band hanging out with each other. This piece is so incredible that a second album could be released just for it.
Önder Focan alone is something else. All of the pieces they played are his compositions and it is a matter of seconds for him to make everyone groove with funk in this funk state of jazz.
The band has two saxophonists. Anıl plays the tenor saxophone and Batuhan plays the alto. These are the Şallıel Bros. I am not the only one who calls these two brothers extraordinary. It is enough to take a peek at their lives and achievements to see this. They are almost booked everyday, both locally and for performances abroad. Anıl is the band’s source of joy, its energy. Batuhan is a saxophone-playing version of Justin Bieber (as Erhan accurately puts it) and the heartthrob of teenage girls. Halil İbrahim Işık is a keyboard maestro. He is very humble and sweet. We know bass guitarists as serious and austere people, but Mehmet Özen is nothing but. The stage lights up when he laughs. And now let’s mention the mischievous child of the team: Erhan Seçkin, who makes the drum speak, who cannot stay still, who is a sentimental man underneath his mischievous facade. I should specifically mention him because it is thanks to him that I have met these wonderful people. I cannot repay his debt. As you see, it isn’t only about music. Funkbook is good for your soul. I hope these wonderful people stay in our lives for years to come. I thank each of them individually.
The first Zorlu PSM Jazz Festival will be talked about for the years to come, and maybe it will become a tradition and one of the most prominent jazz festivals of Europe.