9 November Wednesday, 07:15 am in the morning.
I got up with a horrible coughing fit.
The funny thing is, I tried to hide this from my wife for some reason, while sweating thoroughly at the same time.
8:00 am. I went to the office with much effort. Coughing and sweating continue.
Everyone started arriving at 9:00 am, and those who saw how sick I was sent me home packing, saying “Don’t stay longer or you will get us sick, too!” I drove back with my eyes barely staying open.
I told myself “I’ll just lie down for 10 minutes”, then fell asleep. I spoke to my father on the phone at some point and he said “Drink some linden tea with honey” and I reply “Sure, I will” and grabbed a coffee instead. I watched the TV, nothing new, somebody with money was “selected” for a powerful position again. It seems like this will be the norm for a while.
I looked out from the window for a little while. The weather was overcast. The grey clouds showed up following a few days of “leftover heat from the summer” as if to imply that serves Istanbul right. They made me feel especially sleepy.
I thought of Deniz, my wife and I listened to her beautiful voice at Nardis. We liked it a lot. I had followed her first steps with “Songs from a Breeze”, and saw on the social media that her first studio EP was released on digital platforms. I opened a streaming music program and started to listen to “Uykuda Bir Bulut”. I let myself go with the bizarre peace the grey weather made me feel, listening to the music and to Deniz. Our friends at Kabak-Lin, especially Ediz Hafızoğlu, did an amazing job once again, making those of us who have seen Deniz perform live love her again through this new album, introduced her to newcomers and let her become known to a wider audience. It has to be accepted that the responsibility of letting “good music” be heard and known doesn’t only belong to the musician; those who work in the “kitchen”—the backstage—, whose who work so hard to produce unique things shouldn’t be forgotten, applause and many thanks to you all!
I am extremely excited. Deniz will be having her album launch in the evening. I have to get myself better before my wife Ayşegül arrives, get ready, and let ourselves go in the arms of good music…
We got in the car, there is traffic. The navigation app on the phone says “1 hour to go”. Somehow we have to find a way to get there faster.
We arrived at Zorlu PSM. After wandering into a couple of store, we quickened our steps towards the Studio. Last time we were here was for dear Esra Kayıkçı’s “Bozgun Hatıra” album’s launch concert. Therefore, Zorlu PSM-Studio has a special place for us.
We approached the gate, and I saw that the little white colored “Uykuda Bir Bulut” copies brought for us by Kabak-Lin were waiting for us, we ran to the CD stand and bought one right away. We already had our tickets, we got in the line and found our seats. A special evening was ahead of us!
I have always paid attention to the music playing in the background before jazz concerts, preparing the audience for the event, and I like it when they are diligently chosen. Deniz did not disappoint me in her choices, and she greeted the young audience with a great selection of the classics, like Herbie Hancock – Watermelon Man, Art Blakey – Moanin and Chet Baker – There’ll Never Be Another You, Art Pepper – Red Pepper Blues.
The fact that the tickets indicated there would be no seating made us a bit uneasy, but we relaxed when we saw the chairs in the room. However, since they were all filled right away, the Zorlu PSM management made a quick call and increased the number of these chairs, and made the evening even more pleasant.
The musicians came to the stage accompanied by the audience’s applause. The line up was Şentürk Öztaş on the electric bass, Riccardo Marenghi on the drums, Barış Mert Peker on the piano and Yahya Dai on the alto saxophone, with only Volkan Topakoğlu missing. We guessed the concert would be on the shorter side because the album was only 5 pieces long and was an EP. However, Deniz told us that she would also be performing some pieces that didn’t make it to the album and a selection from jazz standards, promising an evening filled with music.
If I was hearing correctly, the evening started with “All I Need” from the famous French electronic music band Air’s first Virgin album “Moon Safari”. We understood we were in for a special evening when we heard the great performance by Barış and Deniz’s voice leaning towards soul and R&B.
The second piece was “A Long Walk”, composed by Jill Scott. It was an amazing experience listening to one of the best pieces from “Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1” album, released by Hidden Beach, especially with the great intro by Barış and through the chocolate brown voice of Deniz. Deniz seemed to take us all directly to New York saying “Let’s continue the concert here!”, following her performance of A Long Walk, during which she seemed to shed all the stress of the album launch.
And the album started! Deniz reminded us that she was anxious and stressed to sing in Turkish, and that’s why she usually preferred to sing in other languages. However, she and Yahya Dai’s incredible alto sax proved the audience during their “Uykuda” performance that we should listen to them play live many more times in places with incredible sounds systems like Zorlu PSM Studio does. The piece I was most curious about from this album was “Bir Buluttur”, which could be called the sister of “Uykuda”. During this piece, the interaction and communication between Barış and Riccardo were incredible; it was an experience! I think Deniz sang this piece with the ease of “telling a private story to her closest friend”.
They took a break from the album after “Bir Buluttur” and Deniz invited Ekin Cengizkan, who also played in the album, to the stage. She kepts her promise that she gave at the beginning of the concert and performed “Afro Blue” by Mongo Santamaria, introduced to music lovers by Coltrane with his Impulse! album “Live at Birdland”. Robert Glasper’s influence could be felt. Deniz clearly seemed to wink at Erykah Badu with her vocals!
The pieces “Bu Mayıs” ve “Yorgunlukta” are closely related, just as “Uykuda” and “Bir Buluttur” were. “Bu Mayıs”, which is an exemplary piece for those who are inclined to or can play the drums like me, it was evident how both the drummers shared the groove and swing perfectly between each other. I will listen to this piece, which screamed “Free Jazz!”, many more times after this performance!
“Yorgunlukta”, which I believe to be the hardest piece in the album to interpret, shouldn’t be too hard for Şentürk, because the memorable bass walk that started with the intro follows the audience calmly with little change throughout the piece. I excitedly thought “It is great in the album, but how will they draw this piece to an end here? How will they suddenly switch the time signature from 4/4 to 3/4, then to 2/4 and then back to 4/4?” and the band successfully pulled it off. They then took a 15 minutes break following the enthusiastic applause from the audience.
Deniz started the second set in a lively manner with Jill Scott’s “Le Moon Vent Suite”. She seemed to signal that she could dedicate some of her performances to Jill Scott in the future, similar to Ülkü Aybala Sunat’s Jeff Buckley Project. A big applause goes to Şentürk’s communication with Deniz!
Honestly, I haven’t heard of Kilo Kish until “Navy”. She released her first album in February 2016, but I will definitely start to follow her after hearing how Deniz seemed to “free” the vocals with her beautiful interpretation!
“He Touched” and “Not This Time” showed how in control Yahya Dai, Barış and Şentürk are of their own instruments and almost gave us a music lesson.
Returning to the album, the evening reached a climax with the union between poem and music through “Hadi Gel” with Riccardo’s incredible groove, and drew to an end with Beady Belle’s “Saved” and Erykah Badu’s “I Want You” from the “Worldwide Underground” album.
It is clear that the feedback from the audience affects the flow of the concert, especially during an important event like an album launch. The facts that the concert started half an hour late due to technical problems and that there would be two sets with a 15 minute interval, combined with the fact that some members of the audience started to leave before the concert was over during the R&B heavy second set performed by the singer who is known and loves as a jazz vocalist were thought-provoking and surprising. However, the enthusiastic applause the members of the band received after their solos overpowered these negativities.
The comments following the concert were:
“A childhood dream came true this Wednesday evening. The day I have been waiting for years has finally arrived. This is the first fruit of all our efforts. I have been excited this whole week. That excitement went on until the moment I got on the stage. A feeling of peace and ease like I have never felt before took over when I faced the beautiful audience.I was able to enjoy every single second of the concert because of this. I looked the audience members in the eye and internalized everything my bandmates played. I let myself go in the flow of the stories told by the songs I sang, I hope I was able to take you along on this journey. I was satisfied with how every single second turned out. This album is a start, it is the intro of a long and dynamic adventure. It is a ‘first’ I got to share with my friends and musicians I admire and have performed with for a long time. It is a tough road, I learned that, but I am already excited and eager for my next! Music is something eternal. I am very lucky I get to do this.
The pieces in the album were written in a short time period. They were mostly born from situations that made me feel stressed or fatigued, but seeing these experiences transforming into such beautiful things and getting to share them with hundreds of people at the same time is a priceless experience. Music is better when shared together, I would like to thank and send my love to the audience.
I would also like to thank Zorlu and Kabak & Lin teams for giving me the opportunity to share my songs with you and for ensuring everything went on without any problems.
I am happy that I was able to make a mark in this life and for being able to present you with a piece of me.”
Barış Mert Peker:
“Firstly, Deniz is a vocalist who is both very easy and very hard to work with at the same time. She is able to tell what kind of music she wants to make and what feeling of that music should be, which is great! At the same time, the ideas she expects from you as an arranger and musician are more special and should go hand in hand with the lyrics of the songs. That’s why it can be hard to work with her. However, it is inevitable that this hardship gives birth to more original and beautiful ideas. The album launch evening was really great. It was a joy to play the music which came to being through so much work and effort to valuable guests. I personally thank everyone who came and supported us.”
“Last evening was very important for us, of course. Making an album (even with only 5 pieces) is hard, and we were finally able to present Deniz’s first album to the listeners last evening. This project is very important for me because we create all the pieces together, Deniz doesn’t set any limits, so I feel free. I was able to use a more contemporary drumming style for this album, unfortunately some projects do not suit this. We have fun on the stage. The concert made me so happy last evening. The room was crowded and it motivated us. I can say we played even better than the usual! Though I will leave such critique to the audience! There is something else: playing with another drummer is unusual and rare, but it was very enjoyable. One has to interact and find the balance. It is hard for two people to play the rhythm both at once. Playing with Ekin taught me things and I want to thank him for that. Actually, I would like to thank everybody; to the musicians and to the Kabak-Lin Records team!”
“The concert was great, we ended up having to wait a long time for this launch but we didn’t lose that excitement. I would like to thank everyone for participating. Deniz is the most talented, creative and tasteful person I know. She also is a close friend and I feel lucky and happy to share her musical journey.”
Ülkü Aybala Sunat:
“Dear Deniz Taşar is a musician friend whom I follow and like. I said this on the concert evening as well: Deniz is a bright and extremely talented, creative musician and singer. We are going through a period when things are getting harder and the emotional burdens get heavier. I felt so happy, I felt illuminated at the end of the concert. We collectively hold on to our hopes when music goes on, and when it is great. The songs are great, my favourites are Bir Buluttur” and “Hadi Gel”. The team is amazing. Good luck Deniz, to you and to “Uykuda Bir Bulut”.”
”Deniz is one the most talented singers I have listened to recently, a musician who likes to try out different things. I have been following her for several years now, ever since we met at Mitanni. “Uykuda Bir Bulut” album consists of well-thought, and well-conceptualised album with pieces that come together as a whole musically and semantically. I think this album was diligently planned out in this aspect. I went to the launch concert with a lot of excitement and I really enjoyed listening to the pieces I liked listening to on the album being performed live in a unique way with open improvisation. The effects of the band playing together for a long time, and the fact that the musicians knew each other well could be felt on the stage, though their music. My favourite piece is Bu Mayıs’. This piece excited me the most during the concert, with the contribution of two drums, with its repetitive text and its really unique rhythmic improvisations. This concert filled me with hope about vocal music in Turkey, good luck Deniz.”
Deniz Taşar performed her first album “Uykuda Bir Bulut” at Zorlu PSM Studio on the 9th of November, Wednesday.
A successful launch, successful performance, successful album. A special album that came to being with much effort.
I am giving everyone who made this evening possible, firstly to Deniz and her band, and then Ediz Hafızoğlu and Kabak & Lin team 11 points out of 10, many thanks to everyone. A+ to Zorlu PSM for giving us the opportunity to experience one of its Studio’s most successful performances!
Good luck on your journey Deniz!