"His newest album, "Storm Game," is a complex and not easily classifiable record that not only
showcases Winograd's impressive chops, but also grapples with fundamental questions about the very nature of contemporary American klezmer." Jake Marmer, Forward. Read More...
Also a review on Klezmerlog.de (in German)
Turkophony is the latest and most unusual work of the German-born, Turkish-Greek bouzouki player, Orhan Osman. If you subscribe to the hypothesis that personal history is what informs musical style more than training, you could use Orhan as the poster child.
Loosely categorized as “ethno-jazz”, Turkophony moves effortlessly between Anatolian, Greek, Bulgarian, modal jazz, funk and jazz-rock. This music is as smooth as it is exciting and groundbreaking. But the breakthrough is not only in the amalgam of styles, it is also in the center-staging of Orhan’s instrument, the bouzouki that makes this work astounding.
The bouzouki is historically perhaps the oldest fretted instrument of the lute family, and in its present form was considered a modification of the long-necked Turkish Saz, hence the term Bozuk (Turkish for broken, or modified). Although the instrument itself, in its earlier form, dates back to ancient Greece, one must search far and wide for its use in the jazz world. Orhan is pushing the envelope here, and in doing so has earned the name that has made him synonymous with the instrument itself - “Bouzouki Orhan.”
Orhan Osman was born in Germany in 1976, and is from Greece with Turkish roots. His first instrument was a self-made piece of wood with 4 nails and 2 pieces of clothes lines. When he was 13, he embraced the bouzouki as his main instrument and quickly became known as a wedding and tavern musician, playing all-night sessions in Western Thrace, before moving to Athens, where he played on the main Rebetiko stages.
Noted for his personal warmth and broad experience in so many musical styles, through the past years Orhan has been invited to host a number of national Turkish television shows, appearing with a long list of musical celebrities in a variety of programs that have served not only to excite audiences, but to expand Orhan’s own view of music and how to integrate these into his own personal genre.
In Turkophony, unusual textures abound; listen to the “Weather-Report” like bass lines played percussively on bass clarinet and the polyrhythmic wizardry of drummer Dave Weckl (whose work with the Chick Corea Electric Band was seminal), combined with the pyrotechnics of keyboardist Eric Levy, who slides in and out of makam-like synthesizer settings and hot 1970’s Rhodes piano pentatonic sheets of sound. After all that, turn your attention to the luscious bamboo flute raga of Serkan Bagkesen soaring above the band. If this all sounds improbable, think of the hard-driving grooves of James Brown, then add a blend of Coltrane, Balkan, Georgian, middle eastern and far eastern makams and ragas, and you have Turkophony.
The result is breathtaking. According to the Turkish press, “Orhan is filled not only with a passion for music, but for journey as well. He summons his audience to discover the world... [and] shoots you right in your heart with thousands of emotions.”
The Klezmer Shul, the latest work of Veretski Pass, is a four movement suite that attempts to bridge the gap between the sacred and the secular, not through the use of words, but with purely instrumental music.
In the 1000 year history of Ashkenazic culture, research has shown that there were Jewish trade guilds, which often established their own small synagogues, or shuls. There were shuls for tailors, shoemakers, stone cutters - and klezmorim (musicians). Inspired by these historic accounts, Stu Brotman obtained a grant from the Creative Work Fund in San Francisco for Veretski Pass to compose a klezmer-based, musical impression of a Jewish service.
Were these shuls, also known as kloyzn or shtiblekh, places for traditional services, or were they also meeting halls, gathering places for all-night jam sessions with visiting musicians and musical neighbors? In The Klezmer Shul, Cookie, Josh, and Stu reimagine them as centers of multi-cultural music making, where musicians could inspire each other, improvising, recombining, mixing the melodies of the service with local Folk, Classical and popular music.
"For musical inspiration, our sources ranged from the traditional melodies of the synagogue to the folk music of the many peoples among whom Jews lived and worked: Rom (Gypsy), Ukrainian, Hungarian, Romanian, Moldavian, Czech, Polish melodies. Employing techniques of modern Classical composition, modern Jazz, and even Gospel music styles, we felt it important to leave the structure of the arrangements open in order to allow room for improvisation, which generates the core of our work. In this way each performance is spontaneous and unique."
The Klezmer Shul is intended as a spiritual experience, as well as pure concert music. Veretski Pass offers it as a gesture of reconciliation in a world divided by doctrine, and dedicates it to the memory of musicians lost to war.