Minor (UCM Productions, 2012)
Music fans will recognize Mircan Kaya from previous recordings like Bizim Ninniler, Kül, Sala, Elixir and Nanni, but this musician, composer and singer from the Black Sea Mountains of Turkey from Georgian parents is also a producer, author and possesses an impressive engineering career.
Her accolades range from a best film music award for the 47th Antalya International Golden Orange Film Festival for the film Kar Beyaz, a Best of 2010 award for the Californian KDVS Radio world music program Crossing Continents, a Best Film Music Award at the 44th SIYAD Cinema Awards and a post on the President of the Board of Turkish Association of Seismic Isolation. Now that’s a resume. Her latest recording Minor, on her own recording label UCM Productions, adds another stunner to Ms. Kaya’s musical career.
Teaming up with pianist Dan Moore, accordionist Adem Temiz, kemenche player Kurtulus Cengiz, saxophonist Dave Perry, trompetists Roger Mills and Can Omer Uygan, saxophonist and flutist Okan Kovanci, guitarist Jon Eygens, fretless guitarist Cenk Erdogan, bass guitarists Jim Barr and Dogan Kyikci, drummer Paul Wygens, percussionist Izzet Kizil, tabla player Gurkan Ozkan, multi-instrumentalist and producer Aydin Can Kutluay, and vocalist Zehra Cinar, Ms. Kaya has whipped up a layered multicultural sound on Minor that pays tribute to the diversity of the peoples of Turkey.
Alessandro Mechelucci of the Documentation Centre on Threatened People comments in the liner notes of Minor, “Strongly linked to her own Mingrelian roots, but truly international in her approach, Mircan cannot be labeled a traditional musician. Yet her music encapsulates the very essence of several traditions, a kaleidoscope in which a rich tapestry of musical and vocal inspirations converge. No trimmings here, no shadow of that folk-oriented vanity which can be found in many ‘world music’ artists. Mircan is located otherwhere: her musical approach is unique.”
And, nothing could be further from the truth as Ms. Kaya sets up a sound that is otherworldly and exotically potent with flashes of folk, jazz, Turkish and that of her Mingrelian roots. Opening with the deliciously spare “Anlatmam Derdimi,” listeners get Ms. Kaya’s vocals full force backed by the thrumming of a frame drum. “E Asiye” charms the listener in a folksy, jazzy mix with the lure of plumy percussion, kemanche, saxophone, accordion and Ms. Kaya’s soaring vocals.
A delicious percussion works its way throughout Minor, especially on brass singed tracks like “Dut Agaci” or the quick paced “Tolige.” “Kez Ov Pesa” is truly stunning with the opening sound of wind and bells before brass and guitar lines take over before giving way to utterly ethereal vocals. Tracks like “Osmanim,” “Dunjaluje Golem Ti Si” and “Cinarlar In Agidi” dazzle with such a force of music and vocals that it will raise the hairs on your arms – the true test of remarkable music and performance. Listeners are also treated to the flirty, folksy feel of “Ay Senyora,” the deeply dreamy and jazzy “Karmatte Gola Gza” and the sumptuous vocals and piano lines found on the lullaby “Sis Nane” that closes the CD. Ms. Kaya and company set up an evocative otherworld that astonishes.
Minor might be one of those CDs where listeners should really chose a physical copy because the accompanying booklet and packaging full of comments, photos and song translations is really worth it.
The Minor CD is available from Tulumba in North America
Author: TJ Nelson
TJ Nelson is a regular CD reviewer and editor at World Music Central. She is also a fiction writer. Check out her latest book, Chasing Athena’s Shadow.
Set in Pineboro, North Carolina, Chasing Athena’s Shadow follows the adventures of Grace, an adult literacy teacher, as she seeks to solve a long forgotten family mystery. Her charmingly dysfunctional family is of little help in her quest. Along with her best friends, an attractive Mexican teacher and an amiable gay chef, Grace must find the one fading memory that holds the key to why Grace’s great-grandmother, Athena, shot her husband on the courthouse steps in 1931.
Traversing the line between the Old South and New South, Grace will have to dig into the past to uncover Athena’s true crime.