Avam Garde Trio

Bora Bekiroğlu (fretted/fretless bass guitar, electric upright)

Kemal Arslan (Baglama, vocals)

Uğur Onatkut (keyboards, electronic programming)

I also produced and co-arranged this record.

Avam Garde Trio is after the perfect blend of the melodies and rhythms of traditional Turkish music with modern electronic sound. Placing contemporary influences around a traditional core by weaving an intense and effective sound tapestry, Avam Garde Trio makes the meeting of these two worlds seem so inevitable and natural, which provides a convenient allegory for Turkey’s quest for identity.

Named after the frets being tied around its neck, Baglama is the main folk instrument; and its place in Turkish music is so central that synonym of Baglama is Saz, Turkish for ‘musical instrument’, despite there are over 40 other folk instruments. It is also the first and yet only modernized instrument: Taking the form of electric baglama paves the way for
boundaries between the classical and the folkloric become much more indistinct.

The founder of the band, Kemal Arslan, who is from Sivas, a middle Anatolian city renowned for being the homeland of the most eminent folk artists, composes all of the songs inspired by not only his gypsy roots which let him embark on musical journeys through various cultures, but also the city he lives in, Istanbul, the crossroads where Europe and Asia meet, a melange of all sorts of diversity…

Bora Bekiroglu (bass) and Ugur Onatkut (keyboards) amalgamate his melodies with leading edge musical substructure and form cunnigly wrought pieces glittering with delicate ornamentation and incisive rhythmic style. Besides Kemal’s baglama and wailing vocals, featuring instruments like nay, clarinet and zurna to exemplify typical Turkish sound and violin, cello and fretless guitar to bring new stylistic perspectives, they mingle a marvelously live dynamic with studio wizardry. As a result of this sublime fusion, at times poignant and mournful, at others uplifting, moving or euphoric pieces emerge, all of which have a visual, theatrical quality.

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