Review: Ayşe Tütüncü Trio at the Valamar Jazz Festival

Ayşe Tütüncü Trio in the sixth century Euphrasian Basilica
Valamar Jazz Festival 2013. Photo Credit: Tatjana Genc 

Ayşe Tütüncü Trio
(The atrium of the Euphrasian Basilica, Poreč, Croatia, 25 June 2013. Review by Andy Boeckstaens)

Ayşe Tütüncü is a very fine Turkish pianist and composer with many years’ experience on the international music scene. Probably the least-known of the eight headlining acts, she opened the proceedings at this year’s Valamar Jazz Festival.

As darkness fell on the atrium of the Euphrasian Basilica, her trio of Anil Erarslan on ‘cello and Meriç Demirkol on alto and (curved) soprano saxophones produced a fascinating concert. Framed by magnificent stone columns and overlooked by a crucifix, the group on stage combined jazz, European classical and Turkish folk music. Each of the elements emerged naturally, often serially within the same composition, rather than being squashed into a contrived and cluttered fusion.

Coming Soon brought confident work from Tütüncü, and the ‘cello – sometimes plucked, more frequently bowed by Erarslan – was played with a virtuosic passion. Centre-stage, Demirkol was hardly marginalised, but most of the action came from the other two. Dancing, complex rhythms were heard on Seven Places, Seven Skies, while Twelve Steps offered rich sonorities.

Tütüncü has worked with rock and folk musicians, composed music for film and theatre, and led several recording sessions. Only one CD – Carnivalesque, recorded in Istanbul in 2004 – has been issued on a major label (Blue Note). Three of the pieces were reprised this evening: Chocolate-Coloured Song and Story of Something were reminiscent of tunes played by Carla Bley and Andy Sheppard. The title-track was episodic and offered the most obviously Turkish flavours of the night.

A nod to Erik Satie’s Choral and Autre Choral, Totally Different Choral sounded through-composed. Perhaps recognising this, Tütüncü explained immediately afterwards that the piece contained an extended improvisation in the middle. Towards the end of the concert, The Poem of the Little Bee appeared to be unrelated to the similarly-titled composition by vibraphone player Bobby Hutcherson. The Turkish pianist’s influences are clear, but her work is far from derivative.

The grandeur and history of the setting enhanced the feeling that we were listening to music of the world rather than “world music”. There may have been little to whistle, but Tütüncü, Demirkol and Erarslan gave us 95 minutes of seasoned, varied sounds to absorb on the way back through the cobbled alleys of Poreč.

The musicians:

Ayşe Tütüncü – piano
Meriç Demirkol – soprano and alto saxophones
Anil Erarslan – ‘cello

The selections included:

Chocolate-Coloured Song (Ayşe Tütüncü)
Have To Get Used To
Coming Soon
Story of Something (Ayşe Tütüncü)
Seven Places, Seven Skies (Ayşe Tütüncü)
Totally Different Choral (Erik Satie/Ayşe Tütüncü)
Twelve Steps (Ayşe Tütüncü)
Carnivalesque (Ayşe Tütüncü)
The Poem of the Little Bee
I Passed By Your Name

The Valamar Jazz Festival was also covered quite considerably by Sebastian (links below):

Renaud Garcia-Fons
Bristol in Poreč
Billy Childs Quartet and Trilok Gurtu
Marcin Wasilewski Trio/Buster Williams Quartet/Afterparty jam
The Last Night

Sebastian also provided a roundup for the Telegraph

Categories: miscellaneous

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