Neither Too Far Nor Too Close

By Elif Özmenek

The face of New York changes with every street … I leave Chinatown, with its heavy smell of ducks hanging in the storefronts like bunches of hairpins, and move to Little Italy accompanied by the smell of cakes fresh from the oven.
From there I take the subway and travel in excitement to Greenwich Village, a place where each bar has hosted a musician with a worldwide reputation. With changing faces, sounds, foods, smells on every street one discovers something unknown about oneself. In reality this multi-ethnicity is what makes New York “New York.”

Fahir Atakoğlu is performing at the famous jazz bar Sweet Rhythms, formerly Sweet Basil, promoting his new album IF. Together with his friends, Atakoğlu, who have composed the scores for many documentaries, commercials, and news programs, is inviting his audience to undertake a new adventure. IF is also the first production of FAR & HERE, the new company the famous musician has founded. With his team, Atakoğlu is making plans to reach wide audiences around the US. He believes in the world-renowned musicians in the group and the product they have created.

Bringing along his compositions, which have been performed in jazz festivals for years, Atakoğlu is playing with the Grammy award-winner Horacio El Negro Hernandez, and Anthony Jackson, who is considered the master of the bass guitar. As they play, in one melody one finds oneself in Istanbul, in another one in Artvin, in the other in Havana.  Atakoğlu’s music is like the dazzling multiple voices of New York: It thrills the listener!

The famous musician describes his album with these words: “I have been frequently asked if IF is a transition to jazz.  This actually is not a transition, but a freedom of being a composer. I can present my composition in different formations. I can play the same composition with a symphonic orchestra or with a trio. Both Horacio and Anthony are musicians from New York, and naturally this adds a special difference to the music. There are a few more improvised components in my new album. When playing with virtuosos, in other words, their proficiency makes my compositions, in a way, theirs. My music, my melodies take a different shape. This is a great freedom for me, and a delight for the music.” In short Hernandez, who was born in Cuba, and New York-born Jackson transform what Atakoğlu has brought with him from Istanbul in his bundle into a lavish meal for the listeners.

During the months of April and May the trio will be giving concerts in New York, Boston, Washington, Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir, while they prepare for workshops in Turkey during this summer. In addition, after attending the Bodrum Jazz Festival in June, the trio will be meeting with jazz enthusiasts in Amsterdam and Vienna in the fall.

“The concerts in the US will continue,” says Atakoğlu and adds, “local radio stations and music channels are showing interest in the new album. In a way IF was important for promoting my music in the international arena. I believe that anything that has been made with love will be successful. All three of us enjoy ourselves when we step out on stage. Of course I’d like to have a Grammy, to make the music for a Hollywood film in the future, but the most important thing is to do it right and with love.”

As the late Arif Mardin, who wrote the liner notes for IF said, “The unique melody and rhythm in Atakoğlu’s music makes the album a ‘must-hear’ production for his fans.”
I am leaving the Village and pass through the streets of New York, sometimes crummy and shed-like,  sometimes splendid and luxurious. I mix into the crowd of people from 270 countries, the melodies of a Turkish musician in my ears…

The satellite channel XM Radio, which has approximately 7 million subscribers, is broadcasting three songs of Atakoğlu: “Ten Eight”, “Yana Yana” and “Saturday”. For Fahir Atkoğlu’s latest album IF to be on the broadcast list the subscribers send request messages to the radio station. To hear more Fahir Atakoğlu on the XM Radio Channel you can make a request at the following link:

The New York City-born bass player is considered a master of the bass guitar. His discography encompasses many music varieties. Jackson, who invented his six string contrabass, has given concerts and recorded with many artists such as Roberta Flack, Buddy Rich, Michael Urbaniak, Al-Di Meola, Chick Corea, Leon Pendarvi, Paul Simon, Chaka Kahn, Steely Dan, Donald Fagen, Dave Crusin, and Stanley Clarke.

The other member of the trio, Horacio El Negro Hernandez, was born in Cuba and lives in New York, and is considered “one of the most talented drum players in the world.” 'El Negro' Hernandez is the most talented and creative percussionist in the world. He was awarded his first Grammy for his work on Roy Hargrove’s “Crisol”. Together with Michel Camilo he was awarded his second Grammy for the “Live at Blue Note" album in 2004. The musician, who is writing music books, has also made many music videos and teaches at the Berklee School of Music. Horacio released his first solo album, “Italuba”, in 2004.

(July 2006, 21th Issue)
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07