Nicolas Meier: Journey (2009)
Coincidentally but interestingly, one musician who has in recent years been producing compelling Turkish/jazz blends is another guitarist and Berklee graduate, Nicolas Meier, who hails from Austria's neighbor, Switzerland. Now based in Britain, Meierwhose knowledge of classical Turkish music can only have been enhanced by his marriage to the painter Songul Yilmazrecorded three Turkish-infused albums for the Naim label in the latter half of the 2000s: Orient (2005), Yuz (2007) and Silence Talks (2008).
and drummer Asaf Sirkisalong with a couple of more recent recruits, pianist Jose Reinoso and bassist and harmonica player Pat Bettison.
Meier has now left Naim for the fledgling MGP label, named after the London studio where Journey was recorded. The line-up includes two musicians who were on board for the Naim discsclarinetist and saxophonist Gilad Atzmon
As on the Naim releases, Meier plays nylon and steel stringed guitars with occasional interludes on the Turkish lutes the glissentar and the baglama (a.k.a. saz). Atzmon is mostly heard on the clarinet, a staple of Turkish music, and Sirkis combines kit drums with traditional Middle Eastern percussion instruments. Meier's suite-like series of compositionsthe eight tracks follow each other without any pauses in betweenemploy Turkish rhythms and melodic paradigms as jump-off points for essentially "pure" jazz improvisation. The Israeli-born Atzmon on clarinet summons up the most vivid echoes of Anatolia; his guttural, broken note strewn, extended solo on "Mountain Baba" is a highlight of the disc. Meier's own playing instead brings to mind the cultural breadth found in the work of John McLaughlin
, on such notable outings as Amazon River (Blue Toucan Music, 2005). Much of Journey is wild, visceral and abandoned, and Bettison's gentle harmonica, featured on five tracks, is a lovely contrast.
Pat Bettison is a strong addition to the band, a responsive bassist and, on top of that, a gorgeously lyrical harmonica player, with a touch not unlike that of the German-born Brazilian specialist, Hendrik Meurkens
A beautiful album beyond frontiers.
Track Listing: Sunrise; Journey; Mountain Baba; Silent Lands; Summit; Promenade In The Lantern Garden; Marble Dance; Sunset.
Personnel: Nicolas Meier: guitars, glissentar, baglama; Gilad Atzmon: clarinet, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone; Pat Bettison: harmonica, bass; Jose Reinoso: piano; Asaf Sirkis: drums.
Record Label: MGP Records
Style: Modern Jazz