Thereís a tendency to categorize any
instrumental music played by a small ensemble, thatís not
chamber, as jazz. This can lead to confusion. Is it pop or
R&B without lyrics? Is it jazz thatís meant to sound like
pop or R&B? Is it something else? Those questions are
presented in full force by Ilhan Ersahinís Istanbul
Sessions. Their third release, Istanbul Underground
doesnít bother trying to answer the question. The group
delights in asking it as they play.
The ensemble consists of Ersahin on tenor saxophone; Alp
Ersonmez, bass; Turgut Alp Bekoglu, drums; and Izzet Kizil,
percussion. An uncredited electric guitar appears in some
tracks, adding fills, a touch of funk or supplementing the
other sounds. There also appears to be a keyboard adding
some ethereal or space travel effects.
ďFallingĒ begins with a low, brooding bass line with a
percussive backdrop. The tenor comes in and warms things up
a bit. The song shifts gears several times, from the moody
vibe of the opening sequence, to something upbeat and
rhythmic. A highlight is near the end, when Ersahin puts the
tenor through a series of upper-register phrases, with an
echo giving it an outer space feeling.
The other songs offer a mix of mood swings, danceable beats,
funk, Middle Eastern, fusion and storytelling. All songs in
this set were written by Ersahin, with two co-written with
Ersonmez or Bekoglu.
The group has performed in venues across the globe, from New
York City to Istanbul, Turkey, to Paris and Sao Paulo.