"NOW IS THE TIME FOR SOME JAZZ..."

You can hear The Volkan Hürsever Trio, one of the prominent representatives of Turkish jazz music, at Jazz time every Wednesday. In these nights of classical and modern jazz-organized by lounge, DLC- Volkan Hürsever and his Trio throw a bridge to today´s sounds; and share their harmonically and rhythmically charged improvisations with their audience.

With his new album Volkan Hürsever is hoping to popularize jazz and make it accessible to a much larger audience. He has answered Demet Güven´s questions as to how!

D.G.- As a musician who has played in various festivals both in Turkey and abroad, what do you think about jazz music in Turkey today?

V.H. - I don´t think jazz music in the world in general has attained satisfactory results out of the quest it set out in the last twenty years. The attempts to create alternative trends in jazz music overstrained the audience and distanced them from this kind of music. Leaving aside the established fans of this kind of music, recent complicated and over-sophisticated pursuits in art and especially in jazz intimidated and scared away the enthusiasts who were trying to understand and learn this music. This is also the case in our country. Our people keep their distance thinking that they cannot truly appreciate jazz music. Their concerns are justifiable in certain respects...not always are people presented with the best examples of this music. Thus the impression is that jazz music is hard to understand and that it is expensive to have access to it. This in turn has led to a contraction of the market and become an impediment before fledgling musicians as the number of new clubs decrease. However, despite all these difficulties, there is still room for hope as long as qualified young jazz musicians are joining the ranks and jazz music is played in clubs.

D.G. - Who have you worked with both in Turkey and abroad so far?

V.H. - I can pretty much say with all the jazz musicians in Turkey. As for abroad, I can name Billy James, Harvey Thompson, Allan Haris, Laverne Buttler, Marion Cowings, Clifford Jarvis, Ricky Ford, Roy Haynes, Kenny Garrett, Nicholas Payton and Dave Kikovski.

D.G.- There was a surprise awaiting you at the Charlie Parker Memorial Concert at the open-air theater. You stood for Christian McBride who is one of the best double-bass players in the world and shared the stage with legends like Roy Haynes, Kenny Garrett, Nicholas Payton, Dave Kikovski. Can you tell us about that night? After that night came the European tour with Roy Haynes´ project "Birds of a Feather" Did the memorial concert play a role in this?

V.H.- I can say that night was one of the biggest and best surprises of my life. Every novice dreams of playing with the legends one day. I was no exception but it was beyond even my wildest dreams... I was thrilled when I read in the festival program that I would be listening to Roy Haynes, Kenny Garrett, Nicholas Payton, Dave Kikovski and Christian McBride all at the same time. You can only imagine what it was to be told that I was going to play with them. Interestingly enough, the telephone rang as I was joking to my friends at the party they had thrown for me after the concert and telling them that I had put Christian´s nose out of the joint. The man on the phone spoke to me in English with a French accent and told me Roy Haynes had really enjoyed playing with me and was asking me to join him on his European tour. I was so sure that someone was pulling a prank on me, I laughed for quite a while. However, it turned out that it wasn´t a joke... We flew to Venice together the next morning...

D.G. - Your album will soon be released. What´s the title? Have you set the release date? Who have you worked with for this recording?

V.H.- I´d long been thinking of making an album for people who already love listening to jazz music and also for those who didn´t but were willing to. I recorded the album with two other musicians, Burçin Büke and Volkan Öktem, whose friendship is so dear to me. In this album we played our own compositions too. In fact, I named the album "Hediye", after a song that I had composed. It will be released by A.K. Music Production Company in September. So far I´ve received fair reviews from every one who´s heard the album. Let me tell you about an incident...Right after we finished the recording, I left the studio with the album in my hand and took a cab. As I was chatting with the driver and listening to our cd, he turned around and said: "man, this is not jazz music; this music speaks to the soul." At that moment, I realized that I had achieved my mission. I was so happy...

D.G.- How did your interest in the double-double-bass develop?

V.H.- I had never been interested in playing the double-bass, let alone in music until my father took me to the conservatory at age 15 and asked me if I wanted to study music. Although it was late for me to start studying music, the professors took a special interest in me. Considering my physical make-up, they decided that the double-bass was the most suitable instrument for me. Thus began my training in classical music which would last for ten years. In fact, I can say that my interest in jazz began only in the last year of my conservatory education.

D.G. - What about the bass-guitar?

V.H.- I now realize that the double-bass is an instrument that can express my character really well. I cannot thank enough the professors who so wisely chose this instrument for me... Next to the compulsory piano lessons as part of my education at the conservatory, I also took bass-guitar lessons on and off. However, my priority has always been with the double-bass.

D.G. - What are your projects for the future?

V.H.- I have recently been working intensely on new projects. The first is my recording project with my dear friend and great musician Güç Başar Gülle. After that, I´ll collaborate with other musicians in another album. Right after the completion of these two projects, I will start working on the recording of the second album.

D.G. - Can you tell us about the I-lounge jazz nights?

V.H. - As I have said before, we need to first purge jazz music off the false image with which it has been associated. First of all, you don´t have to like this music, nor understand it. If you don´t enjoy the music you´re listening to, then there´s something wrong going on there. Jazz music is hard to play. Therefore, it may sometimes be hard to listen and appreciate. In such cases, it is not always black or white, though. The musicians and the audience may be justified in turns. However, it would be wrong to think of jazz music as an inaccessible profound philosophy. At least this is so for me. Jazz becomes a nightmare if I can´t click with the audience even if I enjoy the performance. Therefore, responsibility falls on the shoulders of both the musician and the audience. Generic statements like "the audience has to understand his music in order to enjoy it" are partially unjustified. What is most important is to incur interest and not scare away the listener while doing that. If someone listens to Miles Davis or Bill Evans after learning about his life-story, he will be prompted to respect the person if not like the music. Respect and love both arouse curiosity. In fact, the same can be said for all kinds of art: learning about the artist and the era which he lived in is of great importance. Taste is subjective. One can find the kind of jazz one likes only by looking for it and listening to various examples. We had this frame of mind while recording our album "Hediye." When Kemal Balta listened to our album, he said "let´s jazz up İ-Lounge." Since then we have been performing our project Jazz Nights with Volkan Hürsever Trio every Wednesday night under the sponsorship of Doluca Şarapları. The view from the club, the service and the food are remarkably good. When they ask me where I play, questions like "is it expensive, how much for the entrance fee?" follow. This is because "boring" and "expensive" are the words that come to mind when someone says jazz. If you come to I-Lounge to listen to us on Wednesday nights, you won´t have to pay the entrance fee you would pay anywhere else, but will listen to various kinds of jazz from which you could choose your own. We enjoy the music we´re playing only in so far as you enjoy listening to it. My album has not been released into the market yet. However, I am very much obliged to Kemal Balta, Doluca Şarapları; and the İ-Lounge family for their support. Thank you...

Hürriyet - Demet GÜVEN / 05 June 2009 Friday

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