The flagship of Turkish jazz: Deniz Yıldızları

The flagship of Turkish jazz: Deniz Yıldızları

ANKARA - Anadolu Agency
The flagship of Turkish jazz: Deniz Yıldızları

The Deniz Yıldızları (Starfish) Jazz Orchestra, which is active within the body of the Turkish Naval Forces Command (DzKK) and consists of jazz enthusiast officers, has been a flagship of Turkish jazz with its 100-year tradition.

The orchestra members, trained by the Band School Command, give concerts all over the world and contribute to the enrichment of jazz music’s repertoire with the arrangements they make.

Speaking to state-run Anadolu Agency, orchestra conductor Lieutenant Colonel Bülent Yüksel said within the body of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), there are three orchestras, including “Türkay” of the Land Forces Command, “Jazz Eagles” of the Air Force Command and “Deniz Yıldızları” of the Naval Force.

Stating that jazz songs were first played in Turkey in the Naval Force ships, Yüksel said, “In this sense, the orchestra of Ertuğrul can be considered as the pioneer of the jazz orchestras in Turkey.”

He stated that the relationship between the Naval Forces Command’s bands and orchestras with jazz has continued strongly since then.

“In the 1990s, the fire started by Ertuğrul Çayıroğlu and the band commander at the time, lieutenant Ferhat Muratal, in the Fleet Command, enlightened the entire Naval Forces Command and this light dazzled all the jazz lovers in the country,” he added.

Yüksel said that DzKK made a first in the armed forces of Turkey and other countries, organizing a jazz festival under the auspices of the retired Admiral Metin Ataç, and that the orchestras within the body of DzKK performed a concert in the festival.

“Deniz Yıldızları is the continuation of such tradition,” said Yüksel.

“The orchestra was formed by the band sergeants in 2008 in order to boost and motivate the personnel of the Navy Forces Command, to contribute to the development of jazz in the country and to represent the command on various platforms. Deniz Yıldızları, which can be considered as the flagship of jazz, represents DzKK in important festivals such as the Mersin International Music Festival and the Ankara and Bodrum jazz festivals. They present the most outstanding works of jazz to the audience in its concerts in Turkey and abroad,” he added.

Yüksel stated that the members of the DzKK orchestra were selected from among band sergeants with high technical skills and who received training in the field of jazz. He emphasized that the performers who want to take part in the orchestra should love jazz and be good jazz listeners.
“Of course, this love must be crowned with theoretical knowledge and practice. All these features are taken into consideration in the selections for the Deniz YIldızları and the performances of the orchestra members in the concerts are determining factors,” he said.

Yüksel expressed that freedom is the first concept that comes to mind when it comes to jazz.

“However, freedom is not an irregularity but a big responsibility that should be shouldered. Responsibility is a feeling that soldiers feel intensely, too. In jazz and in the military service, there is sense of ‘we’ but not ‘I.’ Jazz and military service are based on concepts such as discipline, labor and the spirit of unity. At this point, I can say that the spirit of discipline and unity gained by military service has benefited us greatly in musical studies,” Yüksel said.

He stated that they filled an important gap with the three jazz orchestras within the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and expressed that they brought jazz to a very wide audience with free concerts and musical events. Yüksel stressed that they prefer social responsibility projects, especially educational activities.

“We organize joint activities with jazz departments of universities to make contributions to jazz education. Another contribution of these orchestras is the arrangements made by the orchestra members, especially in Turkish jazz, which enriches the repertoire of jazz music,” he said.

Yüksel said that their orchestras are made up of influential names in the field of jazz in Turkey such as saxophonist Volkan Kuzu, drummer İlker Sevindik, trumpet player Barış Oktay, flute performer Gökhan Gül and arranger Atilla Cömert.