Turkish Jazz Week still keeps things hot on its fifth year. The events started with the efforts of an embassy authority who loves jazz and quickly became one of the most established festivals in Kosova. Events like these are an open window for a country which was in war for a long time, trying to heal wounds. Turkish Jazz Week is important for Kosova’s interaction with the outside world as they have minimal international support. You can see how the festival brings joy to the people; from wealthy art lovers to youth who are interested in good music.
Organizers of Turkish Jazz Week carefully picked bands playing a variety of music, and the opening and closing concerts were groups playing either traditional or ethnic music. I learned later on that the closing concert was a lot of fun, with a lot of local music performed. I was mainly interested in the concerts in between and I got to watch two of them during my two day short stay there. On the night of 13th of April performed at Salla e Kuqe (Red Hall) in Prishtina I listened to Aydın Esen on piano, Randy Esen on vocals and Tolga Bedir on drums. The concert hall is square shaped and the audience sit on the three sides of the musicians, creating a warm environment. On this concert Aydın Esen chose a familiar setlist, playing tunes he’s been playing for a long time. Some of them are Skylark, Cherokee and his original hit Timescape. However, he played them in such fashion that they turned into long solo piano pieces. The whole concert was like this except for the two songs Randy Esen was featured. I think next time Aydın Esen performs at this festival it should be a fusion gig, for the younger audience’s sake!
The other concert I got to watch was Eren Coşkuner Quartet. After a short Prizren visit we arrived at Gjakova around sunset. The concert was at Prenkë Music School where the festival’s music director Ertan İliyaz graduated from. The well rehearsed band is Eren Coşkuner on flute, Uraz Kıvaner on piano, Ekin Bilgin on bass and Riccardo Marenghi on drums. The group plays in a very smooth way, as this kind of music should be played. As I listened him live and also his debut album ”The Long Way”, I find Coşkuner’s music similar to Kent Jordan in 80’s. This genre always catches attention and I think they will get more followers in the future. A nice surprise during the concert was when young Kosovar drummer Ardian Bakalli joined them on stage for a song which was also like two countries uniting through music and friendship.
From this year Turkish Jazz Week will be under the superivision of Yunus Emre Institute. The future of the festival will be on the hands of the institute. I heard that they’re thinking about taking this festival a step further by taking the festival on a tour of the Balkans which sounds great but I think I prefer if they kept the festival the way it is and grow using their establishments. I also highly suggest the festival to Turkish jazz fans as well, especially because Prizren makes you feel like you’re in an old Ottoman town. Kosovo can be in your next year’s list of where-to-visit if you’re up for a short trip for culture, history and arts.
12 April 2016: Mercan Dede, Pristina, Salla e Kuqe (Red Hall)
13 April 2016: Aydın Esen Trio , Pristina, Salla e Kuqe (Red Hall)
14 April 2016: Eren Coşkuner Quartet, Gjakova , Prenkë Gjakova Music School
15 April 2016: Baki Duyarlar KemenJazz , Pristina, Swiss Diamond Prishtina
16 April 2016: NY Gypsy All Stars, Pristina, Salla e Kuqe (Red Hall)