The globalization of jazz has not only garnered an expansive audience for the music, but has also brought worldwide artists into the genre, bringing with them unique cultural distinctions and dimensions. The Italian city of Umbria is home to the esteemed Teatro Morlachi, where in 2010, pianist Fahir Atakoglu
recorded Live At Umbria Jazz
an adrenaline charged set of precision and emotion. Turkish born Atakoglu is joined by Canadian electric bass virtuoso Alain Caron
, and Cuban master drummer Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez
, to make this a truly international affair.
The combined experience and recording output of these three musicians is extensive and impressive, which naturally raises the level of expectation of the concert. Atakoglu composed all the material, which goes beyond his Turkish roots into an eclectic combination of influences and nuances working in odd meters and time signatures. Hernandez, having accompanied Atakoglu since 2005, knows how to drive the pieces with his excellent command of tempo, and Caron enhances the compositions with classical chanson and modern fusion.
"Beyoglu," named after a section of Istanbul, sets the tone for what is ahead as bass and piano lightly intertwine before rising to a vigorous pinnacle, into a startling finish. The blistering pace is continued through "Sync-Op," where the trio blurs past forms and measures into the stratosphere. A bluesy funk groove, anchored by Caron, is brought forth on "Aheste," and the mid-eastern current is highlighted on "Faces," where Atakoglu does some soft vocal intoning. "Gypsy In Me," inspired by the Romany gypsies, is bebop piano in the fast lane, and the introspective "Connection," with its mysterious cadence, is a masterful unification of two worlds, as viewed through music. It's back to the exhilaration on "Black Sea," a tribute to Turkey's north coast, which leads into "ESS," a lively rhythmic excursion into velocity, both tracks presenting why Hernandez is the drummer of choice, when the heat is on.
Acknowledged for an engaging and aggressive piano attack that is emphasized on "Trapped," Atakoglu displays sheer technical rapidity combined with artistic finesse for a notable interpretation. After such impassioned exchanges, it became obvious that this trio was not going to go out without swinging, and the closing tune "Saturday," is an incorporation of exotic melody forged by fire. The chemistry between Atakoglu, Caron, and Hernandez on this live date is exemplary, and pushes the boundaries of the piano trio ensemble. They not only complement each other's improvisations, but meld into a singular cohesive unit exhibiting a high standard of flamboyant musicianship on a global scale.