Onur Aymergen guitar
Can Çankaya piano
Tolga Bilgin trumpet
Apostolos Sideris double bass
Turgut Alp Bekoğlu drums
Release No: LOS 265-2
All compositions by Onur Aymergen
Recorded November 2021, by Sinan Sakızlı and Ceylan Akçar at Hayyam Studios, Istanbul, Turkey
Mixed January 2022 by Tuna Boylu at Studio No 25, Izmir, Turkey
Mastered August 2022 by Güvan Ersoysal
Produced by Onur Aymergen
Executive producer Odd Gjelsnes
Front cover photo by Geir Hareide Andersen
Band photos by ……
Cover design by Max Franosch
A July silence. 1960’s. Those rare moments when a young kid plays all by himself in those hot summer afternoons. No car noise, no human yelling, only the silence of July. Incomparable images regarding the beginnings of an emotional journey of memories. Pat Metheny, when reminiscing his childhood, underlines the importance of the imprint that the sound of trains coming from the railway tracks made in his mind. Such memories are trail blazer imprints for things we will be doing in the future.
Turkey’s relation with stringed instruments has a long line of folkloric musical tradition but its relation to the modern guitar has more to do with the emulations of the post-1945 born Western-centric generations, having a partially parallel evolution with jazz history. Starting with the 1950’s a handful of passionate Turkish jazz guitar players had to develop their knowledge and experience solely by themselves and those who were lucky to go through with playing and observing jazz in the West, carried that information over here.
In order to listen to the albums of a fresh new generation of players who have powerful technical virtuosity as well as displaying a capability of unique expressiveness, we had to wait for the musicians who were born starting with the 1980’s. One should not assume the number of these players grew instantly, no, but they definitely are with us now!
When it comes to other musical styles, virtuosity could be viewed as a ‘sufficient’ musical technique, but it can only be viewed as a commonly accepted threshold, a bare minimum in jazz. If you do not add artistic expression to technical prowess, you will end up just like the previously mentioned metaphor of being the pretty reflection in the hall of mirrors.
Onur Aymergen’s album may be a fresh new addition to the archive of Turkish jazz guitar albums but it’s also definitely a carrier of the accumulation of a historically combatful legacy to which he is a contributing force, adding his unique sound to the fold. I intend to view dear Aymergen’s original guitar voice as a part of his identity. The elegance of his tone is a reflection of himself in the mirror.
Aymergen has obviously been after a coherence that surpasses the notes when inviting such stars as Tolga Bilgin (trumpet), Can Çankaya (piano), Apostolos Sideris (double bass) and Turgut Alp Bekoğlu (drums) to his album, which I am very impressed with. Impeccable tonal harmony has turned into a key of the quintet’s total sound, in fact, incorporating even silence as one of the crucial elements. Undoubtedly, the central aspect of this musical architecture has been Aymergen’s intense care in assembling his compositions.
Aymergen apparently has produced a formula that would shine each musician’s executional aspects. Tolga Bilgin’s trumpet, when coupled with Aymergen’s guitar, comes up like a different shade of the same tonal color while Can Çankaya’s keyboards turns into a contrast of that duo. The tone-on-tone trio styling, which appears to be devised in the compositions from the beginning, works pretty well. “Yeditepe” is a very significant example in that regard. While Sideris’s bass and Bekoğlu’s cymbals raise the rhythmic pulse, they help this initially steady flow reach the end with an climactic intensity.
Can Çankaya’s piano playing is one of the most distinguished of its kind in Turkey. His idiosyncratic work permeats the whole album, especially being felt on the tune “Northern Lights”. After the atmosphere set by Tolga Bilgin’s trumpet, Çankaya’s free flowing piano gets a hard job done very well. I also must emphasise the drumming of Turgut Alp Bekoğlu, where not only on “Northern Lights” but throughout the whole album, displays one of his best ever performances. Onur Aymergen has successfully been able to merge these musicians, each of whom I’ve been attentively following for years, in a new and unique narrative of a quintet.
Guitar, as an instrument, has somewhat come into being like a stepson of the “big bands” who were the flagships of jazz history. As the “jazz guitar” gradually brought forth pioneering artists while refreshing its place, sound, and repertoire with reference to changes in popular music, we observed that each of these musicians developed a unique area of expression. Thanks to these guitarists, the limited range in the pool of jazz standards grew in capacity. Aymergen, like other unique artists of his generation has chosen to contribute in renewing this cycle.
I hope we’ll get to listen to this quintet in concerts and hopefully soon with a brand new repertoire.
Liner Notes by Feridun Ertaşkan (translated by Gökhan Aya)