Bassist and painter İlkin Deniz was born in Sürmene, Trabzon, in 1961. He moved from his home town of Çaykara to Adapazarı in 1967. He started playing the mandolin in elementary school and the accordeon in high school. He bought a Cümbüş brand accoustic guitar during his first year in high school. He started to play the bass guitar the following year. He played at wedding venues, night clubs, restaurants, clubs as well as touring Anatolia. He took an interest in jazz during the 1970s and it became a part of his life. He married his wife Gül in 1988. His first recording “Jazz Bank” was released by Diskotur Müzik in 1993 in cassette format. This was the first pop jazz recording released in that era. He moved to Florida in 1995.
We conducted an interview with İlkin Deniz on the phone recently about what he has been up to.
I asked the artist who started to talk about his memories in the music sector through his YouTube channel “Bana Caz Yapma” why he made the decision to do this.
I had the opportunity to play with every single musician in the jazz circle when I lived in Turkey. İsmet Sıral and Erol Pekcan were among these. I talk about everything I can think of in chronological order in this YouTube channel:
What have you been doing in Florida?
I continued to play jazz here and I saw that jazz is becoming less popular everywhere including the geography it was born in. It seems to even deteriorate? This genre withdrew to its corner in these times when we have all given in tos mart phones. I say this because jazz is a music that involves mental commitment. The newer generations, and even our generation, are now consulting their phones for everything.
Did you only perform there or did you make any recordings as well?
I released two jazz albums: Old School in 2008 and Goodfells in 2009.I released an album called Telvin with Erkan Oğur and Turgut Alp Bekoğlu in 2006. We have and still are performing at various festivals.
You recorded with other musicians as well, as far as I know?
I played with Akın Eldes in several of his albums, it was great. Cango is a very interesting album. I played in Önder Focan’s “Jazz Guitar” album as well. I have been working on “Bass Alone” Project since two years. I started this in the States, I talk about the story of jazz and play various examples of subgenres of jazz for the backups I prepare. I was of course surprised when I saw how unfamiliar American people were to this genre, which was born on those very grounds. I am speaking of the general population.
You travel back and forth to Turkey, right?
I bought more than 10 instruments that were to be given to mostly young girls with the money I received from the presentations I did in Turkey last summer. I really want to continue with this.
Do you have any new recording projects?
I haven’t recorded a new album for 11 years. I made one, taking advantage of the pandemic. I did the opposite of the norm with everything being digital, and where albums and music is available for free online on the internet. I numbered and signed every single one of these 250 copies of the album. Only 250 people will have this album but unfortunately it is currently for sale only in North America and Canada. I deliver by mail. I think no matter how small the thing you created is, there should be a compensation for it.
Last question, do you have anything to say about our times?
I am currently 59 years old. I say you can get my albums for free after I am 80 years old but Old School and Goodfellas albums are available on digital platforms. Back in the day I found it interesting that pieces were accessible from anywhere in the World. Did this improve anything? No. Would it satisfy my soul to think “Look someone from Indonesia listened to my music”? The result? Nothing.
I am lucky to have the talent to paint and I can sponsor myself by selling my paintings, otherwise the situation is bleak. My musician friends have it hard, especially during these days of the pandemic. Especially jazz musicians have it extra tough, the only genre that cannot survive online must be jazz…