Posts Tagged ‘Qanun’
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:
The complete performance of “Tamer’s 9″ can be found here: inter-muse.com/exclusives/new-york-gypsy-allstars-play-tamers-9-at-drom-full-performance/
JULY 7, 2010, 12:00PM
In my last post about the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music, I didn’t dwell very much on individual performances, since I was more concerned with conveying the feeling of being at the festival. So this time out, I’m taking the other route and just giving you a performance, sans any commentary from me. If you have never heard the Taarab music of Tanzania and Zanzibar, you may be surprised at how sweet it is. This is in large part due to the use of the Qanun, a most celestial sounding instrument. Taarab is a fairly recent genre, having been a court music created specifically for pleasure. There are even times when it sounds so pretty I find it ambient, and what with the beautiful sail-like shades shielding us from the sun in the courtyard floating serenely on the wind above us, the purely instrumental melodies sent more than one member of the audience into a trance. (As you will see, it even put a baby to sleep!) But when Shakila Saidi started to sing, she changed that dreamy vibe, and supplied just the right amount of edge to keep me alert and appreciative.
Want to know more about the Qanun?
I first heard Tamer Pinarbasi play the kanun on our video for Amnesty International “The Price of Silence.” Andres Levin, the producer, had him record the first layer of “world music” onto the existing basic track from Aterciopelados. As soon as I heard the results, I was entranced. Tamer just laid down one good take after another, plus it was all tasty stuff. Later, when I was taping my first blog installment I caught Tamer playing again, with the New York Gypsy Allstars. This time I was struck by his technique and velocity. He played some great solos, and even his backup (which I sometimes think is as much the measure of a musician as the solos) was great. So I contacted him and last week he gave me a quick interview and performance at our office before running off to a gig in Brooklyn.
I must say I got a bit hypnotized just looking at the kanun and at Tamer’s hands…hope you do too!