This as an expanded version of an article written by Tangents host Dore Stein published in the Summer 2013 KALW program guide.
"The Anatomy of a Concert"
For 25+ years Bay Area Tangents parties have featured intimate, world-class concerts. In 2005, I took the concept forward with Tangents Turkey Music Tours, providing a vehicle for listeners to travel to the cultural source and soak up live music in its natural environment.
The seeds for a special concert during the recently completed May Tangents Turkey Music Tour began in Berkeley. Producer Lee Townsend (Bill Frisell's long-time manager), invited me to Fantasy Studios to observe the final mix of Belgian guitarist Quentin DuJardin’s new cd Distances.
During the mix-down I listened to three distinctly different songs: An exquisite solo acoustic guitar piece a la Ralph Towner, a full ensemble number with cinematic qualities, and "Ya Bai Miriam" which features Quentin's gorgeous solo guitar for more than half the song until stunning Arabic voices from the Palestinian group El-Fonoun carry the song to its end.
It's rare to find someone like Quentin, who is virtuosic, soulful and open-eared. Outside of the studio we had time to talk music and connected like kindred spirits.
Quentin plays a variety of guitars including fretless. The godfather of fretless guitar is Erkan Ogur, who is Turkish. Erkan's protege, Cenk Erdogan is perhaps the greatest living fretless player of the new generation. He is a rising star in Turkey's jazz scene and has become a staple on Tangents Turkey tours.
I enjoy connecting artists who might otherwise not meet or perform together. During the 2009 Tangents Turkey tour I arranged for Cenk and versatile Turkish singer Sumru Ağıryürüyen to perform their debut concert as a duo. It was a magical performance and they have gone on to perform together regularly. 2009 Tangents tour alum Ron Scudder was so transformed by the experience that he sponsored Cenk and Sumru to the Bay Area to perform, record and give workshops. Such is the
power of music and travel which the San Francisco Chronicle detailed in an inspiring story.
The Tangents Turkey Music Tour seemed like a perfect vehicle for a first time collaboration between Quentin and Cenk. Quentin was receptive although both he and Cenk would have to work out intense schedules. Quentin had always wanted to visit Istanbul and viewed this as a golden opportunity. They established a rapport through Facebook and email, and after listening to each other's music were anxious to meet. Cenk owns a recording studio in Istanbul and invited Quentin to stay there. Quentin then emailed me the following:
The short-film, My Forest, for which I made the music will be awarded on April 10th at the United Nations International Short Film Festival in Istanbul. So, as the festival invites the film-maker and the composer to be there, I will be introduced a little bit before to Istanbul from April, 8 till 11. I will probably get a chance to meet Cenk before our session of May :-)*
Sometimes serendipity lends a hand.
The Tangents concert was booked at the intimate Gitar Cafe, a renovated home turned community venue reminiscent of San Francisco's Red Poppy Art House. I decided to have two duo sets featuring Cenk: the first with Sumru on the very stage they played their first concert together. The second set would be the much anticipated debut of Cenk and Quentin. The venue is so small that our group comprised the majority of the audience. Ron Scudder flew in for the event.
Cenk and Sumru were brilliant. Sumru sings in a variety of languages and styles, punctuated by improvisational forays. Cenk anticipated her every move due to their remarkable chemistry.
After intermission Cenk and Quentin strapped on their guitars. It was hard to imagine they had only just met as they played beautifully intricate arrangements. Sumru joined them towards the end and the audience loved it.
One song—“Bill” --especially caught my attention. This was dedicated to guitarist Bill Frisell. It was the song Quentin initially sent to producer Lee Townsend that opened the door for them to work together. It's a bluesy number with a West African feel that is not surprising for Quentin. A couple of years earlier Quentin recorded a special project with Malian artists in Bamako called Kalaban Coura.
When the concert ended, I could not get "Bill" out of my head. I asked Quentin if he could record it with Cenk before he left Turkey.
Unfortunately he had a 5am flight back to Belgium so there was no time. I was bummed. Quentin appeared moved by my disappointment.
He turned to Cenk and remarked he didn't have to go to sleep. Cenk smiled. They promised nothing but left open the possibility.
The next morning the Tangents group had a 5am hotel departure to fly to Cappadocia. I checked my email as I was leaving. My in box had a 4:29 message from Quentin:
We have just finished with Cenk that little recording session you were expecting...:-)
And one came from Cenk:
We made a recording and we play that blues tune and a improv :) so again thank you for connecting us.
For information on Tangents Turkey Music Tours go to tangents.com or contact Dore Stein directly: firstname.lastname@example.org/415 584-4367.