JWQ Showcase 2017

Thursday, March 10, 2016

TURKEY: Fahir Atakoglu- Live At Umbria Jazz (2016)


Live At Umbria Jazz 

Turkish melodies and rhythms and Cuban rhythms blend into the context of this precision-balanced, high-powered trio, revitalizing the energetic fusion jazz of the 1970s originally the province of electric keyboards via the pianoforte. The Teatro Morlacchi, in the Italian hill town of Perugia, has the stature and complexion of a dowager queen: classically proportioned, resplendent in red and gold, with four tiers of opera boxes hugging the curved walls still regal, only slightly faded. That s understandable. Although it has received several facelifts and one extensive remodeling, it opened in the summer of 1781 making it nearly 230 years old when Fahir Atako lu brought his trio to perform there, as part of the 2010 Umbria Jazz Festival. Contradictions abound. The Morlacchi, which stands on the site of an ancient convent, was built to host Baroque music and 19th-century opera; Atakoglu's music belongs firmly to the modern age, revitalizing the energetic fusion jazz of the 1970s originally the province of electric keyboards via the pianoforte. The Morlacchi witnessed the full flowering of European polyphony; the Turkish-born Atakoglu comes from a musical tradition rooted in monophony (the unadorned melodic line). And while Italy remains in many ways a cosseted culture, protectively guarding its homegrown arts, Atakoglu has worked to blend his own native music with sounds from the wider world, incorporating Cuban rhythms, Middle Eastern melodies, and improvisation as perfected by American jazz artists. I grew up in a country where people are born into monophony, Atakoglu explains. But we as Turks combine it with the polyphony used throughout the world. And I always wanted to play with musicians from different countries, to hear their approach. In fact, the success of Atakoglu's music stems largely from this generosity of spirit. A lot of my compositions have Turkish origins and tempos; it just comes naturally. But I always want the people I play with to come up with their own ideas, their own interpretations; I don t want them to play these songs like Turkish musicians would. In this way, we can meet each other musically. So for instance, when my songs are delivered by El Negro [Horacio Hernandez], with his Cuban background, they come out different, because he puts something else into them. Hernandez, the drummer who has played regularly with Atakoglu since 2005, straddles the borders between Cuban, American, acoustic, and electric music; he has transformed dozens of recordings, mainstream jazz as well as fusion, by adding subtle elements of Afro-Caribbean rhythm. In a similar vein, when the French Canadian bass virtuoso Alain Caron solos, he adds the cantabile quality of French chanson, as well as the experience of co-founding UZEB, Canada s first major fusion band, in the mid-70s.