konstruKt and Joe McPhee: Babylon: The First Meeting of Istanbul

Dave Wayne By

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konstruKt and Joe McPhee: Babylon: The First Meeting of Istanbul
Taken at face value, Konstrukt's catchphrase, "Free Jazz from Turkey," seems a tad pedestrian. But, if one considers Turkey's place in the world-literally the crossing point between Asia and Europe-its crazy-quilt ethnic diversity, and its continued religious and political unrest, it's a fitting metaphor. Oddly, most of the band's recorded output features invited guest artists from the US and Europe. In addition to multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee, featured here, konstruKt has collaborated with Evan Parker, Marshall Allen, Peter Brötzmann and Eugene Chadbourne among others, and their next album is a collaboration with Japanese saxophonist Akira Sakata. Such collaborations can be artistically risky, but konstruKt is up to the challenge. Here, they have chosen wisely: McPhee's liquid musical personality melds perfectly with the host band's, making Babylon a rich and varied musical experience.

The music on Babylon, while improvised, is highly focussed. These guys never seem to search around even for a moment, and all of their decisions bear succulent musical fruit. Each piece is distinct, and follows a unique trajectory. "Involution" opens with McPhee on trumpet, waxing abstract and Bill Dixon-like. All white noise and controlled breath. Unfolding and mutating, drums and bass and dual saxophones take the piece into Pharoah Sanders territory, only to be upended by Umut Çaglar 's freewheeling Moog. Bassist Özün Usta switches over to the cura, a stringed instrument similar to the saz on "Tek'E." Here, McPhee and Korhan Futaci duke it out on dual tenors over the exotic strings and surging drums.

Electronics are central to the band's aesthetic. On "Flyswatter" Çağlar, Futaci and Usta develop an interlocking trio-logue of organ, Moog, theremin and electric bass, providing an continually undulating sound terrain for some heated interplay between McPhee and drummer Korhan Argüden . A bass solo opens out into an unhinged Sun Ra-like electronic fanfare that paves the way for an energetic Futaci (here on a disembodied mouthpiece) / Argüden dialogue on "Simple Questions / Complex Answers." Tension builds as Çağlar's Phantom of The Opera organ pushes its way into the foreground, only to be subsumed by McPhee's boiling, honking tenor. After this, their first encounter, literally hours after stepping off the plane, McPhee himself had to admit, "The guys are the real deal."

Track Listing

Flyswatter; Simple Questions / Complex Answers; Involution; Tek'E.


Joe McPhee: tenor saxophone, pocket trumpet; Korhan Futaci: tenor & alto saxophones, voice, Moog theremin; Umut Çağlar: microMoog, organ, electric guitar; Özün Usta: acoustic & electric bass, cura; Korhan Argüden: drums, cymbals.

Album information

Title: Babylon: The First Meeting of Istanbul | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Roaratorio Records

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