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Take Five With Sinan Bakir

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Sinan Bakir:

Sinan Bakir is one of the most unique and exciting young jazz guitarists on the scene today. The sound that Sinan is striving for described often as fresh, clean and lively yet intense and full with emotion. Sinan Bakir is hailed not only as a virtuoso player, but also a masterful composer. His album On My Way, with Thomson Kneeland and Mark Ferber, s described by Richard Kamins of The Hartford Courant as "a solid debut. It's easy to put this music on and just let it play. One can hear the influences of {Allan Holdsworth}}, John Scofield and Bill Frisell but Bakir are no imitator. The voice of the guitar one hears on On My Way's opening cut never wavers or falters throughout."

Dan Barry of The Hartford Advocate describes Sinan's playing as "quietly elaborate, informed by a good sense of when to crescendo and when to lean back and let it rip." Dither Schmidth of Radio Resita says that "the album transforms a common day into a perfect day," and calls it "magical."

Sinan, originally from Turkey, came to the United States to study jazz as a scholarship student. His studies brought him to Hartford, where he has begun to make a name on the music scene. He had the privilege to play with many of areas great musicians such as Warren Byrd, Mike Asetta, Craig Hartley, Alex Nakhimovsky, Steve Clarke, Curtis Torian and Pat Marafiote. Playing credits include Steve Davis, Nat Reeves, Aydin Esen and Jaimoe. Sinan had many TV and radio appearances such as Comcast's TV series Up and Coming, Accent on Jazz at WWUH and Fox News, and has received international airplay from Canada through Europe. Notable festival appearances include Hartford International Jazz Festival and New Haven International Arts & Ideas Festival.

Instrument(s): Guitar.

Teachers and/or influences? When I was in music school I studied jazz guitar with Joe Carter and classical guitar with Dave Giardina, music theory, harmony and arranging with Walt Gwardyak and improvisation with Lloyd Chisholm. They were all excellent teachers but from an electric guitar standpoint I am more of a self-taught player.

John Coltrane, Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, Branford Marsalis, John McLaughlin, Pat Metheny, John Scofield, Herbie Hancock, Aydin Esen and Brad Mehldau had a big influence on me.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... when I was a kid my music teacher played a solo piece on the violin and I was mesmerized by it. Later I started to check out the lives of classical composers like Beethoven and Paganini, and I found it fascinating. I knew back then that I wanted to be involved in music, that was before I started to play guitar and when I picked the guitar that was it, I knew.

Your sound and approach to music: The sound is very important to me. I have to feel connected with my sound and to be one with it to start with. This really helps me to bring out the ideas alive. It's like surfing, finding the perfect wave and riding on it. I am striving for a bright, clean tone yet with a lot of sustain, almost liquid. As a listener I like the music to be intense and full with emotion, earthy and natural, so that's what I aim for when I play and try to bring out from my instrument.

Your teaching approach: I think mutual respect is very important in teacher/student relationship. I listen to them and find out what they are into, where they want to go musically, and take it from there. Teachers can only guide the student and there is a lot of work the student has to do. But a good teacher can show the right path and really shorten the learning process. I also learn from my students which makes it more fun to teach.

Your dream band: I would love to work/play with Brad Mehldau, Paul Motian, Jeff Ballard, Jeff "Tain" Watts, FLY and Christian McBride.

Road story: Your best or worst experience: Once I forgot to bring my guitar picks to a gig and I ended up playing with my thumb and then continued with a nickel I found in my pocket for more technical stuff; interestingly a music critic was there to listen me for the first time, I managed to survive.

Favorite venue: Szechuan Tokyo and Buttonwood Tree, I always played for a full house in those venues and had a great time but more importantly the music was happening.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? On My Way. It's my debut album, which I released this year (2009) and it's very special to me. It's a trio and all original music. I was fortunate to play with some fantastic musicians—Thomson Kneeland on bass and Mark Ferber on drums—and they really helped to make the tunes come alive.

The first Jazz album I bought was: Chick Corea and Return to Forever, Light as a Feather.

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