Ankara Jazz Society honors figures ‘keeping jazz alive’

Ankara Jazz Society honors figures ‘keeping jazz alive’

Emine Kart - ANKARA
Ankara Jazz Society honors figures ‘keeping jazz alive’ The Ankara Jazz Society has proudly begun the 20th edition of the International Ankara Jazz Festival (AJF), honoring prominent figures this year who have “kept jazz alive.”

The AJF started as a modest yet dedicated initiative under the name of Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) Jazz Days two decades ago, in November 1996. Having continued with concerts and jazz workshops at ODTÜ until 2001, the festival has operated under the name of AJF since 2002, and the contribution of volunteers described as “heroes of our hearts” by the society has constantly been a decisive factor in proving the festival’s durability.

On its 20th anniversary, the society will launch a tradition by displaying its gratitude and appreciation to those who have made a great effort to popularize jazz music in Turkey, particularly jazz musicians and those who have set their hearts on jazz music, including figures who have lent media support or sponsored events.

The former commander of the Turkish Air Force, retired Gen. Ergin Celasin, will be honored with an award in the “Jazz Lover” field, while daily Hürriyet’s editor-in-chief, Sedat Ergin, will be presented with the “Jazz and Civil Society” award on May 24 at a ceremony which will be followed by a concert by the Sibel Köse Quintet. The ceremony will be hosted at the Güven Çayyolu Health Campus, a facility of the private Ankara Güven (“Trust” in Turkish) Hospital, established in 1974.

‘A chaos making you feel harmonic’

The festival began on May 3 with a performance of the Aşkın Arsunan Jazzino Band, and events will continue without interruption until May 28.

The society is also celebrating its 20th anniversary with an exhibition photographed by Dijital Akademi. The exhibition, which is presenting pictures from concerts of the international festival in memory of the past 20 years at Nurol Art Gallery, opened on May 17 and will continue until May 25.

“Taking photography is an abstraction that surrounds your environment. Jazz music is a perfect chaos that makes you feel harmonic. The poises of artists, the stage, playing instruments, the rhythm of their music: it’s all in the absolute. That’s why working with jazz musicians is a valuable experience for us photographers,” according to Dijital Akademi.

‘Feline touch’ and ‘carnival’

In the past two weeks, MONO Ege Dai performed a DJ set to open the festival, famous German composer and trumpet player Markus Stockhausen and talented jazz pianist Florian Weber played together, while Kürşat Başar Orchestra and Seran Bilgi performed a romantic concert.

American jazz vocalist Karrin Allyson took the stage at the Turkish-Japanese Foundation (TJV) on May 12. U.S. ambassador to Turkey John Bass and his spouse, U.S. diplomat Holly Holzer Bass, were among the audience when Allyson, called by The New York Times a “singer with a feline touch and impeccable intonation,” performed at the event which was supported by the U.S. Embassy and Turmaks in Ankara.

Yıldız İbrahimova and Ümit Eroğlu with ODTÜ Big Band; the Ali Perret Quintet; Kamil Erdem; Dilek Sert Erdoğan and Aydın Kahya; the Kerem Görsev Trio and Elif Çağlar; and Ayhan Sicimoğlu and the Latin All Stars are renowned names that have already performed during the festival.

Those who missed these events can check the festival program at for a chance to still see the Turkish Harmony Stars Orchestra, which was established as part of the Turkish Armed Forces Harmony Band Command in 2006, along with soloist Selen Beytekin; the İlham Gencer Band featuring İpek Dinç Yüce; Önder Focan and Şallıel Bros. “Funkbook” and the Goran Bregovic Wedding & Funeral Band.

Bregovic’s performance on May 28 is expected to offer a fine ending to the festival with a “carnival mood” – a mood appropriate for the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the festival, even if it fails to jive with Ankara’s present gray mood.

Other awards at the Ankara Jazz Festival

Those Who Keep Jazz Alive-Composer: Tuna Ötenel

Those Who Keep Jazz Alive-Performer: İlham Gencer

Jazz Writer: Cüneyt Sermet

Jazz Sprout: Su İdil

Jazz Festival: Istanbul Jazz Festival - Görgün Taner

Supporters of Jazz: Ali Kemaloğlu – Turmaks

Jazz Publication: ‘Jazz’ magazine – Zuhal Focan

Jazz Club: Nardis Jazz Club’s founders – Zuhal and Önder Focan

Social Media: Cazkolik – Feridun Ertaşkan