Serdar Ilhan Presents
Thursday, September 18 - Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Erkan Oğur, Turgut Alp Bekoğlu and İlkin Deniz (from left to right).
The band, Telvin, has become a legend in international musical circles and has finally recorded its long-awaited album. The double-CD combines elements of contemporary jazz with traditional Turkish themes and showcases each musician’s virtuosity.
Telvin rarely gives live concerts. Yet, Turkish jazz lovers have talked about the band for years. Fans have eagerly awaited an album. The band’s bassist, İlkin Deniz, has been living in the USA for some years and guitarist Erkan Oğur and drummer Turgut Alp Bekoğlu felt they couldn’t go into the studio with any other bassist than İlkin. Telvin had given successful concerts in the USA, had always played collaboratively, and felt they could only realize their pieces as a unit. Well, at long last the eagerly awaited album of this trio has finally been released as a double CD.
Erkan Oğur is an indescribable talent of the music world. His vision is wide ranging, from ethnic folk music and traditional Turkish themes to rock, blues and contemporary jazz. Erkan plays traditional lutes and various types of guitar, acoustic and electric, fretted and fretless, all with the same sense of perfectionism. He has mesmerized music lovers with the fretless guitar he designed and built nearly 30 years ago. An E-bow synthesizer is frequently used to produce unique and evocative sounds chillingly similar to the ney and other flutes indigenous to Turkish music.
Listeners have gotten to know Oğur through multi-genre albums, film soundtracks and other projects showcasing his many talents. However, there have been very few recorded examples of his jazz guitar stylings and improvisations. His musical genius and unique signature sound were first heard in his album called Fretless (recorded in Germany) and A Lifetime Guest (recorded in Turkey). His albums and individualistic approach to music have been glowingly praised in European and American media such as Guitar Player magazine.
Turgut Alp Bekoğlu has for years been a notable figure on the international music scene. While his heart has always been steeped in the jazz tradition, his virtuosity has allowed him to accompany numerous Turkish pop stars in the 1980s. Turgut has performed at various international festivals through the years and has influenced an entire new generation of Turkish drummers with his percussion knowledge and techniques.
İlkin Deniz is perhaps not as well known as the other two musicians. Living and working in the US as an artist and graphic designer, he has seldom been able to share his musical talents with European and Turkish audiences. But, Ilkin has played alongside many reputable Turkish musicians and singers and his skills on acoustic and electric bass are admired in inner circles. He has a strong reputation in jazz circles of east coast USA.
Together, the band has placed contemporary jazz music at the heart of its sound – it is the main axis of Telvin. There is vibrant inspiration from European jazz with deep impact of 1970s rock and jazz fusion. Each musician’s individual skills and passion have been distilled and melded into the band’s compositions. This individualism combined with virtuoso technique has helped them create their very own unique sound.
What is prevalent in the first of the two discs is a ‘spirit’ of acoustic music rather than merely an acoustic sound. One can find the true meaning of telvin (which in Turkish means ‘transitioning from one state to another or changing color’), most in the pieces on the first CD. The traces of unique colors, tones and an abstract perception crystallize in all the musicians’ expression, and in Oğur’s guitar technique in particular. Doğuş and Engeller Uyanıyor are two impressive examples. Güzelleme possesses the same characteristics but also bears traces of the ECM sound. One of the pieces that reflects Oğur, and of course Telvin’s, most typical nuances is Sızı.
The first piece on the second disc, Arkadaş, is both pessimistic and touching. It is possible to find the ECM atmosphere in Güzelleme in this piece too. In a piece called Şaka we hear the prowess of the rhythm section. This is a piece that also reflects best the nuances in Oğur’s guitar style and the bridge the band forms with contemporary jazz. In Eşbabiye, one of two live recordings on the album, the richness in their musical scope and improvisational skills immediately stands out. As for İki Anahtar, it is a fretless guitar feast by Oğur, in harmony with the band. Dılore Nenelerim is the final piece on the album. It marks a special musical impressionism Erkan Oğur creates with a kopuz (a small instrument of the saz family) over a flawless jazz rhythm. The band essentially goes full circle – they rest at the stops of jazz and contemporary music, coming back to their traditional roots. Telvin is striving to extract different colors, tones and the world’s chaos into their own idiom.