Jazzy days at Turkish embassy

Jazzy days at Turkish embassy

Müge Akgün ISTANBUL - Radikal
Jazzy days at Turkish embassy

A new book on jazz history presented with a concert at Everett House.

The presentation of a new book that explains Washington’s jazz history has taken place at Everett House, with a concert. Everett House was once the home of Ahmet Ertegün, founder of Atlantic Records and a jazz legend.

“The Turkish Ambassador’s Residence and Cultural History of Washington, D.C.,” is about the culture and jazz history of Washington, published by Istanbul Culture University (IKU). Bahar Akıngüç Günver, the president of the trustee committee of Istanbul Culture University and the authors of the book – Skip Moskey, Caroline Mesrobian and John Edward – are some of the important figures that gave speeches during the event. The guests of honor at the event were Mica Ertegün, her niece Leyla Ertegün and Lisa McCowan, the granddaughter of the first owner of the house, Edward Hamlin Everett. The house is considered to be the most characteristic building of the beginning of the 20th century. The building is on Sheridan Circle and was constructed by the multimillionaire Edward Hamlin Everett. The house was built as a winter home for the family in 1910. George Oakley Totten, the architect of the house, is the same architect who designed the American Consular Building in Istanbul in 1908. Therefore the Everett House has shadows of Ottoman-style architecture.

Everett family

The fortune of the Everett family deteriorated markedly with the Great Depression in the 1930s. After the death of Edward Hamlin Everett, in 1932 the house was sold to Turkey with all the valuable furniture and paintings as the Turkish Embassy Building for 402,000 dollars. The history of Washington, the life of Everett, who was called the bottle king, the architecture of the building, the art pieces in the house and the story of the children of diplomats who turned Washington into a jazz city are covered in the book. The most important part of the book describes the period Ambassador Mehmet Münir Ertegün served, from 1934 to 1944.

His children, Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegün, turned the embassy building into the jazz center of the city and opened its doors to African American musicians.

From 1939 to 1944 with the jam sessions held in the embassy, the racist environment in Washington was reduced. The jazz culture of the time came alive by virtue of Ahmet Ertegün. The Ellington Orchestra and Court Basie Band are only two of the important groups who gave concerts at the house.