Friday, November 14, 2014
Homage: Selim Sesler and "Kurdili Hicazkar Longa"
The random tune for today is also an homage to a man called by The Guardian "the Coltrane of the clarinet." Selim Sesler was a Turkish clarinetist of Romani descent. He originally learned how to play the zurna, a simple woodwind instrumentthat accompanies a drum in Turkish folk music, but later switched over to the clarinet. At 14 he began to play for weddings and other social gatherings, and only learned to read music when he was conscripted into the Turkish military. Moving to Istanbul in the 1980s, he played for social gatherings and in restaurants, improving his skills and joining up with other Romani musicians. After meeting him in an Istanbul nightclub after a performance, Brenna MacCrimmon offered to do an album with him. The resulting tour brought him international exposure in the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe, yet he was still relatively unknown in Turkey. His improvisations of Romani wedding and dance music gained him acknowledgment as the main interpreter of Romani music. Turkish audiences finally were introduced to him in two movies, Head On and the documentary Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul. Sesler died in May, 2014 waiting for a new heart after a long battle with coronary artery disease. This song, Kurdili Hicazkar Longa, is from the soundtrack to Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul (2006).