Posts Tagged ‘Fusion’


I first heard Oran Etkin and Kelenia (pronounced kel-en-EE-ya) at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City, opening for Yemen Blues. I was struck with the freshness of their sound, and wished my footage had come out better. So regardless of the hazards of shooting in a crowded converted conference room at the Hilton, I figured it was worth a try capturing them again when they played at the APAP convention in NYC.

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Music is rather like the weather– you can’t tell it to rain only in one place, and you can’t tell musicians to play music confined to a political border. So here in New York City, itself the home of multiple immigrant populations, you can find bands that have members of diverse ethnic and musical backgrounds, whose only goal is to gig and make good music, as they hear it. The New York Gypsy Allstars are pretty much the house band for the nightclub Drom. They have taken the ground breaking Turkish fusion band Laço Tayfa’s music as their jumping off point and continued in that spirit of exploration. With members from Macedonia, Greece, Turkey and yes, even New York (!) they are frequent performers at the various events that local entrepreneurs Mehmet Dede and their manager Ilhan Serder promote throughout the year. So it wasn’t surprising that when Selim Sesler the master of Turkish Romany clarinet came over for September’s Turkish Music Festival, The Gypsy Allstars were the backup band. (Sesler’s segment appears after the Allstars here.) It gave me a chance to hear and see two radically different interpretations of traditional music; one eclectic and full of inquisitiveness, and the other roots focused, silky and soulful.

I was surprised to find out that Laço Tayfa and their lead clarinetist Hüsnü Senlenderici exerted such a major influence on the younger musicians. Of course I was aware that the band was popular, and that Senlenderici was considered an important clarinetist…but I had no idea that they had inspired an entire generation of musicians from across the Near East and the Balkans, hungry to find a contemporary musical identity. — I learn something every day.

For Selim Sesler I’ve chosen to present only a taksim that he played that night; that’s the solo improvisation that sometimes precedes a song. The club crowd was pretty raucous and I couldn’t get board sound that night (I’ll see if that can be changed in future –Drom books so many bands I want to cover!) but Sesler was a pro, and played his heart out, and judging by the applause, there were enough folks in the audience actually listening, and appreciating the master’s work.BTW: Sesler is Rom (Gypsy) but the members of the Allstars are not. They use the term as an adjective, not a noun.

For those of you out there who are intrigued by this style of clarinet playing and would like to hear more, here’s Ismail’s list of influences as he related them to me:
Vasilis Saleas (Greece), Ferus Mustafov -plays saxophone (Rom, Macedonia), Hüsnü Senlenderici (Turkey) Ivo Papasov (Rom, Bulgaria). I’m familiar with the playing of all of them, and I can assure you of a wild ride. The time signatures alone will have you puzzling to find “1” while the bands rip through them without breaking a sweat.
–And if you would like to know more about Tamer Pinarbasi and the Qanun, you can find an interview with him here:​blog/​2009/​05/​29/​tamer-pinarbasi-plays-the-qanun-kanun/
The complete performance of “Tamer’s 9″ can be found here:​exclusives/​new-york-gypsy-allstars-play-tamers-9-at-drom-full-performance/

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I caught these guys at the Dutch Jazz and World Meeting 2010 in Amsterdam. The Ploctones are a very impressive band built around the guitarist Anton Goudsmit’s style which is rooted in blues. Goudsmit’s other thing is RHYTHM. (I find his comping to be far more interesting than his soloing.) The band is extremely tight, all players display major chops and the material is structurally accessible and groove oriented so the audience never gets lost. It’s a winning formula.

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Here’s where you’ll find my weekly original world music video blogs that appear on Huffington Post, as well as an archive starting in April of 2009.

This is also the place where you will find video that is exclusive to my site. I’ve traveled to places like Uzbekistan, Morocco, and Taiwan and no matter where I go I have found amazingly talented and creative people working in every genre from the deepest traditions to the cutting edge.

It’s been incredibly rewarding to interview them and to capture some of what they do on video. Enjoy what you see and hear, and let me know what you think. I welcome your feedback.