The song Take Five playing in the background while watching a Woody Allen movie in 1998 was a milestone in my life. Then, while listening to music at my friend’s house, I face off that piece by chance and only learned the name of the piece (of course, there is no trace of mobile applications that let us know which song is in which album by listening to the song we use now!). The song in Dave Brubeck Quartet’s well-known Time Out album has touched our souls with its soft tone coming out of Paul Desmond’s alto saxophone, but Joe Morello’s drum solo also is very important in the piece. Let’s put that aside.
I’m sure those who read this article have an interesting story to meet with jazz. But here I want to take you not to that first moment, but to the aftermath. You know, those moments when your jazz fever rises, when you feel hungry to hear and know new things, when you are filled with that childlike curiosity and excitement, and those moments that put a smile on your face…
In my story, there are the articles of “Jazz Dergisi”, which is published every 3 months for 20 years, and its valuable authors. What was “Şu Caz Dedikleri by Ali Sönmez”? How to listen to “Blindfold” music?
Interviews, memoirs, concert articles, album promotions, puzzles… Speaking of puzzles, Serdar Karabati’s puzzles were a good motivation to improve my jazz vocabulary! While I was reading each issue, I was also doing research to solve the puzzle, while I was daydreaming into something… I was carefully underlining the parts of the articles that told the stories of the legendary jazz players that I found important; I was creating a jazz map in my head by learning who grew up in what environment, who played with whom. Then I met jazz programs on the radio! “Cazname” by Lale Kuyucu at Radio METU and “Living Jazz” by Hülya Tunçağ on TRT Radio 3 were good examples back then… Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Bud Powell, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Chick Corea, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, John McLaughlin, Charli Haden, Charles Mingus, John Coltrane, I discovered. Piano, double bass, drums, guitar, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, I couldn’t get my speed. Flute, violin, vibraphone, There were times when I focused on each instrument separately and I still listen to it with pleasure…
In my story, there are rooted festivals I went to in Turkey such as Ankara Jazz Festival, Istanbul Jazz Festival, Akbank Jazz Festival. Then there are the Stockholm Jazz Festival, the Montreux Jazz Festival, the Buenos Aires Jazz Festival and the Amman Jazz Festival, which I went abroad with the opportunity. For me, the festival primarily means meeting and mingling of local and foreign musicians, creating a common language. Then it means a democratic environment where experienced jazz players contribute to the training of new jazz players. It also means that we listeners can experience different styles and different group uniforms. In short, a great opportunity, experience and discovery! Festival excitement is another. You also have to make a choice. Everyone usually chooses according to the style they like and the names they know. But I always buy tickets to concerts of people I’ve never heard of, so that I can improve myself. I am so happy. I am also happy to swim in unfamiliar waters.
Of course, there are jazz clubs in my story; I witnessed a thousand and one kinds of jazz concerts in more places than I can list here. You are filled with such energy in those clubs that you encounter such solos that you say at that moment! “It’s that good!” moment!
In my story, there are albums that I listen to on CD for hours at home. There is such a thing as the feeling of listening to the album from start to finish and owning it. Like a smell you get used to, a beautiful view you always see, you own some of the songs in the album, you want to listen to those songs in turn every time you play the CD, and you can experience some of the emotions you felt before…
So what is at the heart of all these stories? Of course, there are those talented, experienced jazz musicians that our hearts!
Creating a jazz culture is not easy. You have been listening to the giant of jazz for years. Your ears get used to different jazz styles. You like some styles very much, you walk there for a while… You listen to solos at concerts, you show your presence to the musician by clapping or whistling at the end of the solo. You are a side to jazz conversation, but it’s as if you are both inside and outside the conversation. Sometimes you get sick of the tone of an instrument, sometimes the sentences of a master musician leave you astonished, sometimes you cheer up with a vocalist’s scat, sometimes you share the enthusiasm of a big band.
In the early 2000s, we were having jazz listening evenings with two of my friends, we were listening to each other’s albums that we had just discovered, and we were emphasizing some of the elements we caught in them. Then every summer we would leave Ankara and go to Istanbul; just to experience the Istanbul Jazz Festival! By the way, when the festival program was announced, we were competing to choose the concerts we would go to immediately. At this point, the jazz culture you have acquired is important! How can you choose without knowing the musicians and genres? Otherwise, you can only act on the recommendation of someone whose opinion you trust.
I remember this well. Before the festival concerts, we would go to Borusan Music House on Istiklal Street, choose 2-3 CDs from the jazz genre from the music library, put on headphones and close our eyes… Before the concert, we would definitely stop by the Lale Plak in Tünel Square, keep the pulse of the festival with Hakan Atala, and spend some of the money we saved on 4-5 CDs that we listened to at Lale Plak. Festival evenings would be very exciting for us, because we would have the chance to witness the live performances of the legendary names we read from Jazz Dergisi or listen to their albums, and we knew very well that the best way to understand this music is live concerts. We would follow the solos of the ensembles in Trio, Quartet, Quintet and Big Band formats one by one, and show our admiration in their purest form with the short applause we sprinkled between them. Our world has changed over the years, we have experienced a lot, we climbed different branches of the jazz tree and ate its fruits. I don’t remember any fruit leaving a bad taste in my mouth, as long as it is performed by experienced, real jazz musicians who do it justice!
After telling so much, now let’s come to the program of the 30th Istanbul Jazz Festival announced this year. I could not believe my eyes!… I’ll ask you. Does the excitement of jazz in people ever go out?!? At the end of my article, I shared sample pieces from musicians and groups that will take the stage at the festival one by one. Please take a listen. Are these included in a “jazz” festival?
Now let’s move on to some hard-to-answer questions.
While the legendary drummer and valuable instructor Can Kozlu, who has trained jazz musicians at Istanbul Bilgi University for years, will be awarded at the Istanbul Jazz Festival award night, why is Takeshi’s “Austrian psychedelic jam band that is influenced by Latin tones while bringing together Anatolian funk, progressive, krautrock, Afrobeat genres”? I wonder if Cashew is featured?
Why isn’t the Istanbul Jazz Festival held in the consistency of the Istanbul Music Festival? When I look at the program of the 51st Istanbul Music Festival, there are 17 concerts and they all offer music in the classical music genre; no dilution.
Istanbul Jazz Festival is one of the world’s leading and rooted festivals. Couldn’t a program befitting jazz be created by acting under the responsibility of this, even if faced with an economic crisis or other problems? Couldn’t we at least consider TRT Istanbul Jazz Orchestra, Istanbul Superband, CRR Jazz Orchestra, Emin Fındıkoğlu +12, Bosphorus Big Band (Halil İbrahim Işık) or Akra Big Band? Couldn’t small-scale groups be invited to contact the consulates and cultural centers of various countries?
You take part in the 30th organization of a deep-rooted festival. Organization is a very difficult job. Congratulations to the 70-person Istanbul Jazz Festival team (https://caz.iksv.org/tr/festival-hakkinda/ekip)! I wish you success! But know this too. You extinguished our jazz excitement, get what you get!
Meanwhile, the excitement of jazz does not go out, it starts again!
I researched every band and musician in the Istanbul Jazz Festival program from various platforms, without arguing about this jazz, not this one. While classifying them according to genres, I benefited from the Istanbul Jazz Festival program, the Allmusic website, the album pages in Discogs, and various music pages. I also listened to their albums/tracks from Spotify and YouTube in parallel. I have been listening to jazz music since 1998 and I have been to many local and foreign concerts and attended festivals. Therefore, I can claim that I have a somewhat mature jazz culture. Below, I share the “Genre” information based on these experiences and resources. In addition, you can listen to the links I share below and evaluate how much jazz they contain.
30th Istanbul Jazz Festival (07.07.2023 – 18.07.2023)
Number of Concerts: 29
Number of Concerts Without Jazz: 18
Number of Concerts Possible to Include Jazz: 11
Jazz Percentage (approximately optimistic): 38%
Bands, musicians in the order they appear in the poster…
Genre: Modern Folk, Indie Folk, Folk Rock, Americana
Style: Trip Hop, Drum ‘n Bass, Downtempo
Genre: Pop, Rock, Funk / Soul, Jazz
Style: Indie Pop
Genre: Funk / Soul, Blues
Genre: World, Afro-Cuban, Folk
Genre: R&B, Rap, Jazz
Styles: Contemporary R&B, Jazz-Rap, Contemporary Jazz
Youn Sun Nah Quartet
Genre: Jazz, Pop
Style: Contemporary Jazz
Riff Cohen ve Okay Temiz – The Ritual
Genre: World Music, Folk, Ethnic, Rock
Riff Cohen: https://open.spotify.com/album/0dlqp2x3x8Y2UoqLJ8Pka9
Riff Cohen: https://open.spotify.com/album/3UNrxj1P9cRLjX8NT8QUkA
Genre: Rock, Alternative Rock, Indie Rock
Genre: Electronic, Jazz
Style: Contemporary Jazz
Genre: Electronic, Pop
Genre: Electronic, Rock
Evdeki Saat (+1’li Gece Gezmesi)
Style: Turkish Alternative Pop
Swing’it (Caz Vapuru)
Takeshi’s Cashew (Parklarda Caz)
Genre: Electronic, Funk / Soul, Rock, World
Style: Psychedelic, Krautrock, Afrobeat, Funk, Progresive
Sababa 5 (+1’li Gece Gezmesi)
Style: Progressive Mediterian Arabic Music
The Flabbies (+1’li Gece Gezmesi)
Genre: Alternative Rock
Flapper Swing (Caz Vapuru)
Taşra Üçlemesi Caz Projesi (+1’li Gece Gezmesi)
Yiğit Özatalay (Piyano) , Mustafa Kemal Emirel (Davul), Barış Ertürk (Tenor/Bariton Saksofon)
Another Bitches Brew (+1’li Gece Gezmesi)
Genre: Jazz Fusion, Jazz-Rock
Style: Experimental Jazz, Avant-funk, Psychedelia
Brassist (Caz Vapuru)
Volkan Coşar (trompet), Seçkin Özmutlu (trombon), Deniz Felder (saksofon), Ertan Şahin (suzafon), Burak Cihangirli (davul)
Genç Caz+ Finalistleri (Parklarda Caz)
Genre: Jazz, Electronic