Mehmet Polat Trio – Ask Your Heart
(Home Records. CD Review by Gail Tasker)
Ask Your Heart is the second album by the genre-defying Mehmet Polat Trio, consisting of Mehmet Polat on oud, Dymphi Peeters on kora and Sinan Arat on ney. Released on the Home Records label, based in Liege in Belgium, the album weaves a warm tapestry of sound that invites the listener on a spiritual jazz journey that is well worth taking.
The kora originates from West Africa; the oud dates back to medieval Persia; the ney is a vertical wooden flute from the Middle East and probably one of the oldest instruments still in use. Whilst these are traditional instruments with extensive musical histories, the group mixes modal jazz with Balkan, Middle Eastern, and African musical influences. The result is an intriguing and unique textural soundscape.
Lyrical, reflective melodies combine with intense improvisations and fast, percussive rhythms. In pieces like Untouched Stories and Dance It Out, the kora and oud join together in rhythmic counterpoint, providing a steady movement that underlays the emotive, out-of-time lines of the ney. In other numbers such as Serenity, the players join in unison on rapid passages which grow in energy and passion.
The trio’s mastery over their instruments includes some extended techniques that provide extra excitement. In Everything Is In You, for example, Polat takes an adventurous improvisatory route, using the lowest strings of the oud to create deep, bass-like vibrations. In Mardin, Peeters taps a rhythm on the body of the kora that pushes the music forward. There are even some vocals, as in Evening Prayer, where what sounds like an Islamic evening prayer is sung and answered back instrumentally by Arat.
Ask Your Heart presents an unusual blend of intimate, exploratory jazz that deserves to be heard more widely.