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November 11/22/17, 2017
ARFANA , Short stories from Anatolia…


Short stories from Anatolia…

Cenk Güray


Jazz and folk music are two genres that carry a great amount of similarities in between. The characteristic of ‘spontaneous composition’ is the concept that is lying beneath both of these musical styles. Folk music is produced depending on the common melodic and rhythmic structures that has been transmitted for centuries through the memories of the people living in the same cultural borders; whereas jazz – having its roots in the African-American-European folk music – built her own tradition on a memory shaped by a specific harmonic-rhythmic-melodic form of musical creation.

Anatolian folk music depends on one of the world’s oldest sound civilizations, having its roots in the musical cultures of Ancient Mesopotamia, Ancient Greece, Ancient Middle East, Ancient Central Asia, Hittite, Phrygia, Rome, Byzantine, Selchuk and Ottoman lands and people and thus travelling back to 3000 years B.C.. The Turkish-Anatolian folk music stands as a very delightful combination of the multi-cultural characteristic of Turkey unified with the rural and urban life experiences of Anatolian people. This historical depth and cultural variety introduces a very complex musical background for this music, unified with a high aesthetic view and a profound sense of eternal love directed to the nature and the human beings.  

Remembering that the Turkish folk songs have been carrying the true life stories of Anatolian people to the current time, Arfana seems to unify these stories with the jazz-influenced musical dreams in the minds of the talented musicians of the band performed in the CD.

It is very interesting that the uniqueness of the CD does not lie in the idea of the combination of jazz with Turkish folk music – which has been experienced many times, not in the repertoire, and even not in the instrumental combination. The unique and the unexpected sound in the CD directly arouse from a virtue of arrangements, thanks to Kaan Bıyıkoğlu. This CD seems to be one of the few occurrences that we face a folk-jazz CD in Turkey which is not trapped in a narrow corridor of circular harmonics altered from classical combinations directing the musicians to a monotonous atmosphere of melody improvisation over a repeating cycle of sounds. Both in rhythmic and melodic terms, the arrangements compel all the musicians to a more complex challenge for melodic creation; both creating a form that is being rhythmically supported from the Afro-American history of jazz and traditional sense of jazz harmony combined with modal contrapoint embellishing the traditional melodies in a sensitive way.

The musical team works in a perfect harmony all within the recording. Kaan Bıyıkoğlu lets us to hear the footsteps of an elegant piano-master bringing a new breath to narrowing European jazz scene. İsmet Aydın, creates a balance between the folk music and jazz with his clear intonation and catchy style. For sure, Elif Canfeza Gündüz is an upcoming brilliance in classical kemenche performance scene in Turkey. Matthew Hall and Ekin Cengizkan are the two heroes that are bringing the complex arrangement idea of Kaan Bıyıkoğlu to the current-audible life with their compact sound and impressive rhythmic variability. Serhan Erkol, with his pure alto sax tone, performs effectively as a soloist and accompanier in four pieces with his pure sound, rhythmic flexibility and functional improvisations.

By opening a corridor between the memories of the jazz world and old stories of the people lived in Anatolian land, Arfana is laying the stones to carry the sounds of old Anatolia to the mind of the European Jazz scene which already feels the need of a memory refreshment. An exhilarative fusion and a promising experience is waiting in front of us. Thanks to all the musicians, the successful sound engineers and the producers.  




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ARFANA is a musical initiative of vocalist İsmet Aydın and pianist/composer Kaan Bıyıkoğlu, which aims to bring the folks songs and melodies from various styles and regions of Anatolia together with the rhythmic textures and sounds of the contemporary jazz, in order to put forward a fresh and present-day musical experience. ARFANA is an old and traditional word meaning musical gatherings in t... more
folk jazz
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