Unusual Big Band session from Turkish composer Mehmet Ali Sanlikol – What’s Next? – Vinyl or CD – Dunya

by | Apr 22, 2014 | Jazz CD Reviews

Unusual Big Band session from Turkish composer Mehmet Ali Sanlikol – What’s Next? – Vinyl or CD – Dunya label (4/3/14) ****:

This is a most praise-worthy collection of big band tracks from the musician, composer and ethnomusicologist Mehmet Sanlikol, who tried to get into the Berklee College of Music at age 16, and now has taught there, as well developing his Cypriot and Turkish roots with lessons from Aydin Esen to Bob Brookmeyer, and he now gets to show off his early big band talents with this album, which is on both CD (9 tracks) and vinyl (5 tracks).

In this album he gets to demonstrate the jazz-framed beginnings of his musical life with these charts, and sometimes finding new ways to bring in old melodies and forms from his background. Among his recent researches has been that of Ottoman court music, especially the janissary band repertory. He didn’t really study Turkish music until after 2000.

His works blur many different borders. It is a little difficult to pin down the various tracks, though it will be immediately noted that the order of the five tracks on the vinyl album is different from that on the CD. Being typewritten and with the track title emblazoned in bright red, it is difficult to read the liner notes on the CD. Generally the two formats sound most similar, except that the CD has more left/right separation than the vinyl – a frequent situation when you compare vinyls with CDs.

The third track on the LP, “A Violet Longing,” (also on the vinyl) has a very beautiful vocalise solo by Mahmet. “The Blue Soul of Turkoromeo” has a solo on the Turkish ney, an end-blown flute. The track “On the Edge of the Extreme Possible” is the most atonal of the album – a dense composition which shows the influence of his teacher Bob Brookmeyer. Some of the folk-influence and alternate time signatures reminded me of the Don Ellis Band. All in all, the Turkish influence has added to the interest of this big band, which proves highly listenable.

TrackList (CD):

What’s Next
Better Stay Home
A Violet Longing
On the Edge of the Extreme Possible
The Blue Soul of Turkoromero
Kozan March
Gone Crazy: A Noir Fantasy

—John Henry

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