Confusion is good sometimes. It’s a way to start thinking about whatever you are confused about. This is what Ilhan Ersahin’s Istanbul Sessions do since 2008. They managed to fire the stages all across the world: from New York to Istanbul, from Paris to Sao Paolo, from London to Skopje... Questions they spread all these years where like: are they really turkish? is this really jazz? doesn’t it sound like a rock band? how come a jazz ensemble can really be like a band? How can they be so able to jam with any musician they meet on stage? And so on...
It’s a simple fact Ilhan Ersahin, being one of the rare moguls of New York City underground scene via his club and record label (nublu), is traveling all around the world. It’s possible to see him jamming with Red Hot Chili Peppers in Sao Paolo, featuring Bugge Wesseltoft in Blue Note Tokyo and/or playing a beautiful oriental set with turkish gypsies in an elegant concert hall somewhere in Europe. His newyorker energy is with him all the time.
How about Istanbul Sessions then? It’s a summary of all you read above. Master level musicianship meets a high eclecticism where the cliché of “east-to-west crossover” finds its true sense and power.
A session is a meeting of a deliberative body to conduct its business. In this case, the business is music, and the music is another heavyweight long player from Ilhan Ersahin & crew. Upon listening to the record for the first time, one word overrides every other emotion and devours the mind: Cinema.
More specifically, “cinematic.” Ersahin’s sax sounds like it was recorded in the fucking Alps. Or in the sweeping sand dunes and Oasis’s of the Middle East. It’s just that W I D E. On “Falling,” Ersahin’s sax is practically 3-dimensional. Double tracked and bathed in a healthy dose of reverb, the saxophone and rhythm of the band evoke a story-like narrative. From the mad-man trills strewn throughout the track, to the soaring, almost stadium anthem chorus. Clearly, it’s all about the (s)axe, and Ilhan Ersahin is YOUR axeman.
History has a tendency to repeat itself, and for the third time ‘round, East meets West once again. And the results are more satisfying than that mammoth inter-racial orgy you’re always fantasizing of. Through Ersahin’s playing, you can hear the ghostly echoes of dead, pre-war jazz greats behind his frenzy-inducing saxophone playing. You can also hear the Siren’s call, the brooding beauty of the shrouded mystery that is the Desert. Devilishly hot and bothered, the dry night air caresses your face, stirring a primal urge that excites as you step out into the glow of the Turkish metropolis.
An Istanbul session, awaits.