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Jazz on the Bosphorus: Troubled Waters

By Published: May 25, 2012
After the boycott press release was shared hundreds of times on the social media and made the rounds of the Turkish press, Şermet first published a few lines basically accusing one of the protesting musicians of pocketing money that was not destined to him, and then a lengthy press release where, after listing all the achievement of the club, he tried to deal with some of the issues publicly raised. The explanations about the Buster Williams situation are not very clear, involving some more or less usual occurrences in changing lineup and dates even starting in 2006, and leave the final question unanswered: Did the group finally get the fee that was agreed upon or not?

If the club was so unhappy with the group and management, why did they keep hiring them year after year, and if the group arrived in a lineup different from what was stipulated in the contract, there are proper, legal and formal ways to deal with the situation—one-sidedly cutting the fee being not one of them. The accusation that Williams attacked the club publicly without giving the time for an explanation is also not confirmed by the dates, since the group played there in the first days of the month but the press release was published on March 22nd, almost three weeks after the fact. Finally, even if Cindy Blackman
Cindy Blackman
Cindy Blackman
was not sitting beside the trap set, the sub was none other than the great Lenny White, so I do not think that any business was lost because of that...

The reason given for not offering a public explanation—not wanting to be involved in the political debate we mentioned—is weak, considering that a press release would not have involved anything political. And all these statements by Mr. Şermet are in Turkish only, so the Buster Williams side has not been given a chance to answer. The issue with Kivaner is explained with the fact that the concert was canceled due to the young pianist "disrespectfulness," whatever that means, but no mention of the actual incident, witnessed by other colleagues, is made. The justification—that so many excellent musicians kept coming to the club over the years and did not play for free—is also difficult to understand: of course no one says that everybody was stiffed, someone did get paid, after all.

All the other issues raised, including those by ex-workers, remain unanswered, but the statement suggests that the boycott of the musicians has been instigated by someone who never played at the club and was jealous, while similar personal attacks on single musicians have accompanied the official press release. According to the release by IJC, dozens of musicians suddenly decided, for obscure reasons, to coalesce and attack the club, as if a piece of the history of jazz like Williams—as well as many other well established musicians—had any interest in attacking a jazz venue.

The webpage of the club looks dejectedly abandoned, there is no word from the sponsors that supported the program, and it looks like there's no happy ending to this sad story that has created bad and unjustified vibes around the general Istanbul jazz scene while, at the same time, depriving the music of another outlet.

For more information (mostly in Turkish). Visit

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