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Jazzin' Around Europe

Ismet Siral Creative Music Studio Istanbul 2006

By Published: August 31, 2006

Canadian-Turkish sound painter Mercan Dede explains his approach

It took the passion of musician by calling and part-time restaurateur Kip Dost, son of Ali Kayral Kip, jazz musician and friend of Ismet, to make his memory alive again. First he created a movie and a website dedicated to Ismet, collecting video interviews of the musicians he met in the USA, and then he envisioned an updated version of his dream: a summer music school in Istanbul based on the Creative Music Studio project and on Siral's practice of blending jazz, improvisation, and traditional musics. Dost enrolled the help of the many musicians who on both sides of the Atlantic were touched by Siral, and the support of a small but dedicated group of friends centered around the Argos Culture and Art firm willing to invest time, energy and money into a rather quixotic program in the extremely competitive, expensive and difficult metropolis on the Bosphoros.


Finally in July the first real step toward the establishing of a regular event in Istanbul under the name of Ismet Siral Creative Music Studio (ISCMS for short) took place: three days of workshops and concerts hosted by the Bogazici University at the Albert Long Hall overlooking the Bosphoros, in front of a very interested audience of students and young musicians, and a final concert in the huge Open Air Theatre in Harbiye. Full program is available.

Ney duo by the Tekbilek brothers

Limitations of budget, time constraints and previous committments prevented all the musicians to attend, but the program was highly exciting: Karl Berger came with a group of friends including Ingrid Sertso, Carlos Ward, Graham Haynes, Steve Gorn, John Lindberg and Tani Tabbal, with the latest doubling as drummer in Henry Grimes' trio with Marilyn Crispell. Trilok Gurtu was a very welcome guest with Berger's band. On the Turkish side, both Omer Faruk and Haci Ahmet Tekbilek joined the festivities, together with techno-sufi Mercan Dede, uncategorizable guitarist Erkan Ogur, and traditional masters Göksel Baktagir on kanun, Yurdal Tokcan on ud, Erol Parlak on saz, Misirli Ahmet on percussion. These musicians gave workshops, played with their groups and in impromptu concerts, and an intense exchange of ideas and feelings took place in countless informal discussions, talks, meetings and meals for the full duration.


I had the pleasure to witness Karl Berger talking in Siena to a huge audience of 200 music students, but still was amazed by his Istanbul workshop, centered on the interpretation of harmony in terms of music dynamics, helping to practice assonance and dissonance. He physically established a circulation of knowledge among the participants, whose understanding of music was changed forever, mine included. Hopefully Karl's teachings will be the pivot of next editions. John Linberg played contrabass and explained his point of view about improvisation starting from Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise while Steve Gorn demonstrated the basis and techniques of traditional Indian music on a various sizes of bansuri bamboo flutes, finally joined by Lindberg in an intense duo. The Turkish musicians workshops missed part of the intended audience, as the program was too intense and the stay too short to allow the American visitors to join in, but were welcomed with great interest by Turkish students, a very interesting fenomenon.

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