Autumn blues versus jazz

Istanbul surrenders to a sooty, misty, wet and cool season. As if that wasn’t enough it has started to get darker earlier each day. However, there is something in the city to dissolve the autumn blues: Akbank Jazz Festival.

The festival  (15-25 October) adopts the slogan ‘The City’s State of Art’ and should relieve the pending gloom of winter. The influential names in the festival are; Terje Rypdal & Ketil Bjørnstad, Cecil Taylor,  Joe Lovano Us Five, Marilyn Manzur, Richard Bona, Vassilis Tsabropoulos, Aki Takase, Jose, James and Fahir Atakoğlu.

What have you discovered about music since the first album you brought out in 1956 ‘Jazz Advance’. Especially in regard of modern music and avant-garde jazz…

Cecil Taylor: The period you are referring to approximately spans to 55 years. During this period I have worked with countless musicians. Musicians whom I have had the opportunity to work with, or those I have only been able to listen to, have added a lot of value to my music. I have witnessed music change with great speed since the time when I were a tiny little child listening to Ella Fitzgerald. Miles Davis, Albert Ayler, Gil Evans, Bill Dixon and Tony Oxley (whom I will be playing together with at the festival) are the first names that spring to my mind with regard to their influence on modern jazz.

If we ponder about Ornette Coleman’s statement “Let’s play the music and not its background” can we say that avant-garde jazz left austere politism behind and inclined towards an artistic intensity?
This is a subject that’s entirely open to discussion. It can vary from one artist to another. Nothing is the way it was 20 years ago and it will not be the same as now in the next 20 years either. However, it is not possible for avant-garde jazz to be alienated from politism altogether. 

What kind of interaction does your music have with poetry and theatre?
Since my years at the conservatory, I have had an interest in poetry and performing arts. Poetry particularly has an incredible influence on my music. Theatre and dance are just as important as poetry. I cannot understand the musicians who can make music about poetry without reading poetry or make people dance without knowing how to dance. After the thousands of words I have read I can only come up with a short poem. I should add that this process is very tiring and challenging.

How do you define, or more precisely; how do you characterise the musical journey you offer the listeners? As flowing or enthusiastic, etc…
Joe Lovano:  I should state that our most recent project Joe Lovano Us Five definitely has a dynamic set up. Even though all the pieces in the project belong to me (as a matter of fact this is a first) we tried to make music that’s up beat, enthusiastic, rhythmic and  appealing to young people. Though we are a band of five we form different duos, trios and quartets by often playing improvisations. This also provides a rich content.

What does the togetherness of different instruments generally mean for music and you personally? 
In our project, Us Five we have two drum kits; even this on its own is a novelty. As parallel to the different combinations I spoke of, I think the way each instrument finds its own way creates the basis for our music. While we use improvisation in certain pieces, we also move forward with a more structured framework in some others. As a matter of fact, the musical attitude and content displayed on stage is more important that the instruments played. Hence, I also think that from time to time there is a struggle between different instruments in a musical sense.


Cecil Taylor on 22 October at Cemal Reşit Rey (CRR).

Joe Lavano on 23 October at CRR.

Terje Rypdal and Ketil Bjørnstad on 16 October at Hagia Irene.

Maril yn Mazur on 24 October at CRR.

Aki Takase on 22 October at Babylon.

Richard Bona on 24 October at CRR.

Akbank Culture and Arts Centre, Hagia Irene, Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall, Babylon, Ghetto, The Seed, Roxy and Asitane.