Gumusluk Sessions: At Lon's
In recent years, followers of improvised music have been lucky enough to witness the emergence of an internationally visible Turkish free music scene focused on the collective KonstruKt and several related artists. Their output self-released or issued on small labels like Holidays, Sagittarius A-Star, Omlott and Roaratorio, much of the group’s notoriety has been realized through collaborations with European, Japanese and American musicians, all carrying deep historical weight (e.g., Joe McPhee, Peter Brötzmann, William Parker). But Turkish free music also has its own lengthy history, and the members of KonstruKt have sought to play with veteran multi-instrumentalists Hüseyin Ertunç and Okay Temiz. Temiz might be more familiar to astute listener-collectors for his work with Don Cherry and John Tchicai, but Ertunç is a fascinating sonic and visual artist who spent time in the Boston and LA improvising underground before returning to Istanbul in the early ‘90s, and has been well represented in recent documentation of Turkish improvisation.
Recorded over two days yet retaining a continuous, immediate vibe, Gümüslük Sessions: At Lon’s features a stirring quartet with Ertunç on piano, bassist Doğan Doğusel (a peer of Ertunç’s who also worked with Temiz), the young drummer Cem Tan, and a stalwart of the KonstruKt group, Umut Çağlar (reeds, percussion). Most of Ertunç’s recorded appearances have been on drum set, where he’s employed a massive and materialist cymbal approach that takes Sunny Murray’s explosive chatter as a lifting-off point. Ertunç waxed one LP as a leader in 1974, Musiki (with then-regular partners Michael Cosmic and Phill Musra, issued on the tiny Intex label), and returned to Turkey in the early 1990s. Ertunç’s playing, relentless as it might be, evinces a strident, swinging quality that reaches back decades. His pianistic approach is rooted in the outpouring of voluminous, allover rhythm in concentrated shards. One might first think of early Cecil Taylor, though another Boston resident is also worth mentioning – Jaki Byard, who could move from barrelhouse to crepuscular romanticism and dense chordal superimpositions at the drop of a hat. If he and Ertunç didn’t necessarily work together, their spirits are kindred.
In the caliber of multi-album statements like Taylor’s Nuits de la Fondation Maeght (Shandar, 1969) and string instrumentalist and composer Alan Silva’s Seasons (BYG, 1970), At Lon’s stretches out texturally and conceptually, although there’s a loose, homegrown informality unique to these musicians’ orbit (partly attributable to the dry, open recording quality). The initial marathon pace relaxes into nattering trails and the full ensemble falls away to reveal spare duos and trios over the course of eight sides. Ertunç’s piano ebbs as zurna, flutes and bamboo reeds (or “küstüfons”), auxiliary percussion and voices draw out the music’s connection to folk forms, as well as the interleaved East-West textures of Yusef Lateef and the AACM. As ‘out’ as the music gets, there’s always a center in Ertunç’s keyboard approach; moreover, his linkages with the pliable, allover percussive buzz and thrumming pizzicato create a constant burble of jabbing movement. This is a clunky, Monkish swing or a playful push-pull, rather than the ‘tinka-tinka-ting’ of bebop. Concentrated, unflagging and incredibly spiritual, Ertunç, Cağlar, Doğusel and Tan have convened to structure an incredibly personal artistic document that speaks to the universal possibilities of freedom.
Clifford Allen (20.11.2015 / Brooklyn, New York)
Cem Tan, Huseyin Ertunc, Dogan Dogusel & Umut Caglar Milano Concert 2016
GÜMÜŞLÜK SESSIONS: AT LON'S ARE:
4xLP (Holidays Records)
Hüseyin Ertunç: acoustic piano, chant, küstüfon
Doğan Doğusel: double bass, küstüfon
Cem Tan: drums, gong, flute, küstüfon
Umut Çağlar: double reeds (gralla, zurna), bamboo flutes, percussion
Recorded by Reha Arcan with a Revox B77 MKII Spurtrack “reel--to--reel” tape & a Grundig GDSM 331 stereo dynamic microphone at Lon Briet’s stone house in Gümüşlük / Bodrum, Turkey, on September 29th /30th, 2015.
Hüseyin Ertunç played a “Bechstein” acoustic piano. "Küstüfon" is a wooden reed instrument invented by Ömer Küstü in the late 80's. "Gralla" is a traditional Spanish/Catalan double reed instrument. "Zurna" is a traditional Turkish double reed instrument.