CD+DVD Reviews

Sevda – Sevda: Exclusive Collector’s Edition – Caprice (2 CDs + 1 DVD)

An aromatic merger of Turkish folk and jazz.

Published on May 13, 2012

Sevda – Sevda: Exclusive Collector’s Edition – Caprice (2 CDs + 1 DVD)

Sevda – Sevda: Exclusive Collector’s Edition – Caprice CAP 21820, (2 CDs + 1 DVD) CD1: 47:38, CD2: 46:34; DVD: 4:3 color, 47:07  (Distr. by Qualiton) [11/14/11] ****:

(Jazz 1 Sverige ‘72 and Swedish Television 1972-1973: Maffy Falay – trumpet, flugelhorn, piano, Indian flute; Bernt Rosengren – tenor saxophone, silver flute (tracks 3, 5); Salih Baysal – violin; Gunnar Bergsten – baritone saxophone, Chinese flute; Ove Gustafsson – bass; Okay Temiz – drums, darbuka; Akay Temiz – darbuka. Sevda Live at Jazzhus Montmartre Featuring Salih Baysal: Maffy Falay – trumpet, piano, darbuka; Salih Baysal – violin; Gunnar Bergsten – baritone saxophone; Ove Gustafsson – bass; Okay Temiz – drums, darbuka)

This remastered two-CD/DVD Sevda boxed set is a time capsule as well as one of the few documents which showcase both Swedish and Turkish jazz as they co-existed in the early 1970s. Sevda: Exclusive Collector’s Edition gathers together 1972 live material from the group Sevda (which is the Turkish word for love), an ensemble of Turkish musicians who resided in Sweden and Swedish artists with a likeminded broad outlook on what jazz could be and what non-jazz influences might go into jazz. While most jazz fans outside of Sweden and Turkey never heard Sevda, the band was one of the first which attempted to fuse Turkish musical tradition and jazz, and thus is musically and historically important.

Sevda was formed by two Turks: multi-instrumentalist Maffy Falay (a trumpeter who also uses flugelhorn, piano and Indian flute) and drummer Akay Temiz, who both played with other people, notably Don Cherry as well as other artists and bands. Sevda’s core quartet also included two Swedes: baritone saxophonist Gunnar Bergsten and double bassist Ove Gustafsson. Guest violinist Salih Baysal was also often used; and other artists also occasionally joined in. When Sevda was conceived, Turkish inspiration in jazz music was not well known. The most famous title up to the early 1970s was probably Dave Brubeck’s “Blue Rondo a la Turk,” based on Turkish folk music Brubeck heard while on tour. The same traditional melody also appears on Sevda’s tune “Tamzara.” Some listeners might mistakenly assume “Tamzara” melody is borrowed from Brubeck, which is incorrect.

The set’s first album, Jazz 1 Sverige ‘72, is a 47-minute Swedish radio station recording, when Sevda was enlarged to a septet with the addition of Bernt Rosengren (tenor sax and flute and also an alum of Don Cherry) and percussionist Okay Temiz, who plays the darbuka, a hand drum with a sharp tone which is utilized in a manner akin to a tabla in Indian music. Opener “Taksim” is a brief primer, a solo violin improvisation where Baysal extemporizes on a traditional Turkish folk melody. That slides into “Hicaz Dolap,” where hand percussion is introduced, engendering a slight Indian essence similar in some ways to Shakti’s material with L. Shankar. Jazz kicks in on the aforementioned “Tamzara,” where Falay’s piano takes the initial lead and drums, Rosengren’s flute, the bass and the horns are then heard. The irresistible main theme is employed to fine effect throughout the 11-minute piece. There is also singular interplay between trumpet and the two saxes. Bop sways through the high-swinging “Batum,” where the musicians nod to muses such as Dizzy Gillespie (Falay toured with the Dizzy Gillespie Reunion Orchestra prior to co-creating Sevda). Parallel energy spins through other bop-balanced tunes such as “Karadeniz” (highlighted by Rosengren’s airy flute) and “Makadonya.” The album concludes with two tracks which are spiced by Turkish flavoring, “Çifte Telli” and “Karşilama,” where Baysal returns on violin and Sevda soars with abandon.

“Taksim,” “Çifte Telli” and “Karşilama” are repeated during the 46-minute second CD, Sevda Live at Jazzhus Montmartre Featuring Salih Baysal, recorded a week after the radio production. Here Sevda is pared down to the primary quartet with Baysal as guest. Baysal is a significant participant during this performance. He expands “Taksim” into a nearly ten-minute excursion with rhythmic phrasing, tuneful chords and incessantly flowing statements. He continues in an equivalent manner on the violin/hand percussion duet “Misket,” which is similar in tone and feeling to “Hicaz Dolap,” and the correspondingly structured “Ya Mustafa,” where drums, piano and bass gradually enter. The Turkish musical touchstones are more pronounced, with none of the Western or bop vestiges heard on the first record. Often there are no horns and for the duration the self-taught Baysal is demonstrably the leader, revealing his unique musical viewpoint.

The all-region DVD is the same concert as Jazz 1 Sverige ‘72, but here viewers can see Sevda’s interaction. The color set-up is well presented and the clarity of the older, pre-digital film is engaging: there is some video streaking where studio lights glare off the brass instruments but it does not detract from the presentation. The three-camera arrangement provides motile and mobile images. The cameras pan, zoom in to tight close-ups on all instruments, and long shots display the band and the sparse television studio audience. The Dolby 2.0 sound is clear and crisp. Hippie-era clothing and haircuts timestamp the proceedings, but the only negative visual is a very young rather spastic dancing girl who can be spotted at the edge of the stage in the wide shots: an odd complement to the show. There is also a brief, annoying audio buzz during the closing credits.

Although the Sevda boxed set was released late last year, the collection probably fell well under the radar of most jazz fans, so this is a good time to reappraise or discover Sevda’s contributions to jazz and to what Don Cherry dubbed world music (in which he meant jazz which tapped musical resources outside of the jazz norm). The group’s history and chronology are finely detailed in a 16-page booklet with liner notes, photographs and complete credits, as well as related text which accompany both CDs. For those interested, the Sevda musicians are still active. Falay split up Sevda but is still a part of Sweden’s ever-growing jazz scene and is a hero in Turkey. Okay Temiz sustains his wide-ranging musical horizons and is a prominent world music player who has worked in several idioms. Gunnar Bergsten is one of the top Scandinavian baritone saxophonists and is a respected composer, soloist and leader. Ove Gustafsson has maintained his presence in the Swedish jazz community, with credits on numerous jazz releases.

TrackList:
CD 1: Taksim; Hicaz Dolap; Tamzara; Batum; Karadeniz; Makadonya; Çifte Telli; Karşilama.
CD 2: Taksim; Misket; Ya Mustafa; Çifte Telli; Köçekce; Oyun Havasi; Çadirimin üstüne; Karşilama; Çadirimin üstüne (da capo); Naciye; Kürt Ali.
DVD: Sevda Love Part 1; Sevda Love Part 2

—Doug Simpson




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