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Akbank Jazz Festival, collaborations
and more: Ozan Musluoğlu

Blog
Akbank Jazz Festival, collaborations and more: Ozan Musluoğlu

06.11.2020

As a musician, composer and producer; Ozan Musluoğlu has been creating impactful works on both Turkish and international jazz stage for the past 20 years. We had a chat with him on his personal work and observations on Akbank Jazz Festival.

Interview: İpek Temizkan
Translate: Yetkin Nural
Illustration: Saydan Akşit

Since your first gig at Akbank Jazz Festival stage, what kind of changes have you observed in yourself, your music, the jazz scene and its audience?

The interest and love towards jazz in our country has been on the rise for the past 20 years. Both the festivals’ and clubs’ role in this rise are very big. This is positive on every level, but still not enough. As in every other country, our audience can lack information on the music they are interested in. And the people who are knowledgeable might lack the interest. We still keep on moving forward and expanding this large jazz family with people we meet on this path.

You started making a name in the music scene back when you were a student. As a musician who have made impressive progress since then, what can you tell us about the young musicians of today? What kind of tips and tricks of the trade you have that would guide them? 

I follow new generation’s musicians with applause. They are trying to improve themselves in various styles. The ones who take their work seriously come through and play their instrument proudly in their mentors’ projects. This is very pleasing to see... They are very lucky since the internet, one of the best blessing of our time, helps them tremendously. When we meet with youngsters who are curious about our experiences, we share whatever we know with great pleasure.

Have you ever discovered a musician through Akbank Jazz Festival? If so, where and when?

Akbank Jazz Festival hosts musicians and bands from a variety of genres in its program. And I had the pleasure of discovering musicians I didn’t know about before and following them closely afterwards; many times. Here are two examples, from 2002 and 2019:

Kim Clarke - "Defunkt"
Jorge Roeder - "Shai Maestro Trio"

You worked with musicians we know very well from various musical genres, such as Fatih Erkoç, Gökhan Özoğuz, Bora Uzer, Şevval Sam on the same album. As the artist of a “play maker” instrument such as contrabass, what is the experience of collaborating with these musicians, who are accustomed to different musical dynamics like?

I have worked with all of the names you mentioned, both on stage and in recording sessions in various past projects. The vision for this album was to bring names I have history with together under the same roof and create an album that will draw Turkish audience a bit more closer to jazz. It became a very fond memory for all of us, especially with the videos as well.  

With a reference to Ray Brown’s “Some of My Best Friends Are...” legacy, you released My Best Friends Are Pianists in 2012 and My Best Friends Are Vocalists in 2015. Are you planning another “best friends” album for the near future? 

Actually I recorded a best friends album dedicated to bass composers in 2016, but haven’t had the chance to release it. Hopefully, after the COVID-19 crisis passes, I plan to deal with the copyright issues and put it out there.

You released a DVD compilation of videos for your My Best Friends Are Vocalists album. When you turn back five years and watch those videos, what do you remember most vividly about that 48 hours in the studio? 

First of all, every time I see the videos, I feel grateful that they were shot. I would like to use this opportunity to give a shout out to dear Batu Akyol. From the 2-day recording marathon, I think the craziest memory that stuck with me was the earthquake that happened during recording. We evacuated the building and turned back after a while to continue recording, but we had to deal with the messed up systems, which was very time consuming. Dear Can Karadoğan came up with alternative solutions and that was how we completed the recording session without any more trouble.

As a final question, what kind of a role do you think Akbank Jazz Festival has in terms of Turkish jazz musicians supporting each other and being in solidarity? What do you think the 30th anniversary album Dün, Bugün, Yarın tells us about Turkey’s jazz culture that hasn’t been said before?

Akbank Jazz Festival has a unifying mission when it comes to Turkey’s jazz scene. Through these kind of projects, musicians from every generation of local jazz scene are able to meet organically. As you said, good organizations support the solidarity between individuals. When we look at it from this perspective, Akbank created serious funding for this solidarity and cooperation with its 30th anniversary album project. Unfortunately, COVID-19 disrupted the normal process for the festival and this was really the best solution idea. Musicians from every age and genre, as well as old friends who haven’t had a chance to play together for a while, came together in this album that is definitely going to become a collector’s item.

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