Ismet Siral Creative Music Studio Istanbul 2006
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.
Saz virtuoso Erol Parlak presented his unique saz quintet
The living traditions are there, at arms' length one could say, but the youngest generations as a majority have difficulties reaching them, as they take them for granted and they think they know these old things anyway, because they vaguely realize them in their background. But having the twin neys of the Tekbilek brothers, the rich strings of the Baktagir/Yurdal kanun/ud duo or of Erol Parlak's unique saz quintet vibrate in the room and extract living, pulsating music from age-old instruments and compositions was an ear opening experience from many of them who eagerly asked questions and informations. While Omer Faruk Tekbilek who moved to the USA is more wellknown, his brother Haci Ahmet was the first one to make inroads in the European jazz scene with some memorable solos in Lps by Oriental Wind, the groundbreaking Okay Temiz group. He's a true master of ney, reed instruments and saz as well, and to have him back in Istanbul was a great joy.
Turkish-canadian Mercan Dede brilliantly exposed his way of working with found and composed sound, in an intringuing parallel with visual arts and film editing. The lone failure was the Grimes/Crispell workshop, a spontaneous affair which was hijacked by some young participants into an overlong jam of little or no interest/usefulness.
Master bassist and composer John Lindberg gave a key contribution