Six tunes about food or, more precisely, six tunes in tribute to the eggplant (aka the aubergine or the patlican); that is the tracklist for Aubergine / Patlican, a delightfully fresh and joyous album from Turkish guitarist Önder Focan. An established jazz musician with over a dozen albums to his name, Focan is based in Istanbul where he is artistic director of the Nardis Jazz Club. His playing has been compared to jazz masters including Larry Coryell, Kenny Burrell and Pat Metheny; on the evidence here, he draws on a range of influences to create a warm, mellow sound which fits perfectly into his equally wide-ranging compositional approach.
Focan is joined by six musicians in a septet which works co-operatively throughout, with each instrumentalist adding solo contributions from time to time. On "Mussaka," Focan turns to the bouzouki for a tune in the zeybek style, a Turkish dance based on a 9/4 rhythm. The slow, steady, rhythm underpins a languid melody played by Anil Şalliel on tenor saxophone. For the remaining tracks, Focan concentrates on guitar, often playing melodic single note phrases which move effortlessly over the rhythm section's confident, supportive, contributions.
"Patlicanli Kebap" is a fast tempo bop-influenced number with Burak Cihangirli's drums dominant. Enver Muhamedi's bass opens "Karniyarik" which soon flows into a slinky, mid-tempo groove; Burak Dursun's trombone solo is a central feature of this tune. "Patlican Beğendi" is a slow, lush, 5/4 tune which conjures images of quiet, late-night romance. "Melanzane alla Parmigiana" is a companion piece to "Patlican Beğendi," in 4/4 this time, but still lushly romantic (even if its inspiration appears to come from a dish of eggplant, cheese and tomato sauce). "Soslu Patlican Kizartmasi" is the closing tune; this time the ensemble playing of the three horn players gives the number a rich, full feel in contrast to solos from Senova Ulker and Uraz Kivaner, which are spacious and sensitive.
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