Ozan Aksoy – Ozan (2018)
The prodigious talents of Alevi Kurdish musician, singer and composer Ozan Aksoy is apparent from the opening strains of his upcoming November 2nd release of Ozan. Earning his chops early with saz lessons from father and later on with a spot in the group Kardeş Türküler, Mr. Aksoy soon found himself in New York pursuing a degree in ethnomusicology and whole new set of musical collaborators. On this lushly elegant recording charms out the riches of Kurdish, Turkish and Armenian musical traditions by way of folk tunes, love songs, laments and lullabies, carefully snagging western influences, Turkish Anatolian pop tunes and even flamenco riffs.
Mr. Aksoy remarks, “As an Alevi Kurdish musician playing the saz, and as an immigrant musician in the US, I was surrounded by many constraints including my cultural baggage. That burden is why I couldn’t make a solo album until now. But the time came. I wanted to share what I’ve been doing the past few years with the public. But I didn’t want to limit the sound of the album to a traditional box. I wanted to have collaborations with musicians from different parts of the world, who play jazz or other styles. It’s my way of being a Kurdish musician in New York.”
Luring listeners with vocals, bass guitar, ukulele, lavta (lute), saz (long-necked lute), kaval (flute), frame drums, percussion and keyboard, Mr. Aksoy furthers his sound on Ozan with guest musicians violinist Jeremy Brown, teff and claps by Ramzi El-Edlibi, pianist Tamara Kacheimeier, cellist Ani Kalayjian, classical guitarist Richard Miller, sarangi Shyam Nepali, vocalist Leah Shaw, drummer Jonathan Vergara and electric guitarist Luke Vichnis. Ozam is where Mr. Aksoy and company conjure up a musical landscape that bridges east and west, the traditional and the modern and where one music speaks to another.
“This is a snapshot of where I am as an artist. I’m putting all these traditions together in an era of hatred and separation. I didn’t want to shy away from that. Ultimately, these songs speak to our political climate, in the U.S. and in Turkey. They are about immigration, human experience, universal sensations,” Aksoy notes. “This is my current mood. As I grow older, I want to turn attention to those essential emotions that are overlooked in modern life, the nostalgia, pain, suffering. And the hope; there is hope in there, too.”
Opening with “Rhythms of Loneliness,” Ozan takes off on a fantastical journey that is steeped in exotic strings and piano laced with ethereal vocals before giving way to the smooth and easy “Hope” laced with bold dashes of sarangi.
Equally delicious are tracks like the Mediterranean flavored and framed drum edged “Rinde,” the richly worked “Kanchum Em Ari Ari” with its soulful vocals and cello lines and the love song “Leyla.” Additionally, there are goodies like the Armeno-Turkish lament “Derzor Colleri” and the darkly plummy closing track “Dandini.”
Ozan is a remarkably rich musicscape and we can’t wait to find out what Mr. Aksoy has in store for us in the future.
Buy the Ozan digital version
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.