Turkish clarinet legend Kandıralı dies at 90
Kandıralı, whose original surname is Kadıoğlu, was born in the northwestern province of Kocaeli’s Kandıra district in 1930.
He studied music at the Kandıra Community Center at the request of his father, who played the clarinet as an amateur. But after a while, Kandıralı took on a journey by foot to come to Istanbul to pursue his dreams.
He began playing Turkish music and traditional dance rhythms from the 1950s in taverns and on radios.
He had accompanied many music legends, such as Zeki Müren, Safiye Ayla, and Müzeyyen Senar, with his works in western style music.
Kandıralı’s astounding absorption and synthesis of diverse jazz idioms had earned him the nickname “Benny Goodman of the Near East.”
After hearing Kandıralı play in Istanbul, jazz legend Louis Armstrong immediately seized the opportunity to jam with him in 1954.
“You get up, come from Kandıra, jam with Armstrong. Jazz is also played by heart, invented. If I had stayed in Kandıra, I wouldn’t even be a shepherd,” he said in an interview taken by Fırat Karadeniz in 2013.
“God helped me. Back then, my fingers were afraid of me,” he had noted.
In the 1980s, he gave a concert to Ronald Reagan, the then president of the U.S., and he had also played his clarinet on Damascus Radio as a special guest of Hafez Assad, the former leader of Syria.
Kandıralı had stated in his interviews that one of his biggest regrets in his life was his rejection of the title of “state artist.”
He was asked to be honored with a title by Süleyman Demirel, who was the president of the country between 1993-2000, to which Kandıralı refused, saying, “I am the artist of the people.”
Kandıralı later expressed his regret with the words “I was cocky.”
Kandıralı, who had been treated at Okan University Medical Faculty Hospital for a while, was buried in İstanbul Zincirlikuyu Cemetery after his death.