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Mixtape Mondays: Mehmet Ali Sanlikol & Whatsnext



For today’s installment of Mixtape Mondays we asked Mehmet Ali Sanlikol to put together a playlist of works that inspire his unique take on worldly jazz which he’ll showcase here on October 3rd. Here’s what he had to say:

The inspirations for my compositions which I will be presenting at LPR come from classical Ottoman/Turkish music, folk music traditions of Turkey as well as classic jazzy film scores of the 70s and Film Noir.

The Taking of Pelham 123 (1974) is one of the most impressive and unique scores from the 70s. Unfortunately, it is not known as well as it should be. The classic main title music of The Streets of San Francisco was something that I heard while growing up as a boy in Turkey. The original version features a harpsichord – a unique feature that stayed with me all these years. There are many Film Noir scores that have been influential in my life as a composer however, Charlie Parker’s rendition of Laura (the classic Noir film) is simply unforgettable. Bernard Herrmann’s choice of using only strings in order to match Hitchcock’s choice of shooting Psycho in black & white creates a wonderful musical setting for the Noir character of his score.

During the past 14-15 years a number of Ottoman musical traditions have taken over my life. One of these traditions happens to be the so-called “Ottoman Janissary Band” music – the kind of music that directly influenced and shaped the European Marching bands which eventually helped create the Jazz band. Çeng-i Harbi was the kind of a more aggressive style of music (possibly reminiscent of the battlefield in some way) that these bands used to perform until early 19th century. A number of my compositions bring the aesthetics as well as the instrumentation of this early ancestor of the Jazz band with the contemporary Jazz Combo.

The music of the Sufi (Islamic mysticism) dervishes has been very influential in Turkey. The so-called “Whirling Dervishes” perform an amazing ritual (Ayin) which is accompanied by original compositions that are in 4 movements. Each movement generally follows a strict rhythmic cycle or two. The incorporation of these complex rhythmic cycles into contemporary jazz composition may be one of the most striking aspects of my contribution to this great tradition.

A number of folk music traditions from and around Turkey (including the Turkish, Greek and Armenian) incorporate odd time signatures. Musicians from the region not only easily perform these odd meters but also look for ways to turn them into jazz arrangements. I have often been very skeptical of such musical undertakings. Today our chances of becoming musically bilingual (or trilingual for that matter) is more possible than ever before however, to be able to speak multiple musical languages haven’t gotten any easier – it still requires years of dedication and study. One of my ways of getting around this “arrangement” phenomenon of folk songs was to re-compose them. I have done one such experiment with a folk song entitled Dere Geliyor which we will perform at LPR on Oct. 3. On this list you can hear a version that is closer to what it would sound like in the Turkish countryside.

Tickets are still available for the show on October 3rd. Don’t miss out.

posted by Zan