Zorlu PSM Jazz Festival to host int’l artists despite strains in diplomacy
Too Many Zooz
Istanbul’s Zorlu PSM is preparing to kick off its second jazz festival this May, with extra effort spent to earn a prominent place in Istanbul’s musical landscape as the political and diplomatic environment is hardly friendly for a newcomer.
Zorlu PSM’s first jazz festival in May 2017 came after a series of deadly terror attacks in 2016, which also saw a failed coup attempt that led to a state of emergency to be imposed in the country.
“In 2016 it was rather the terror attacks and the aftermath of the coup that made our lives difficult in terms of convincing artists to come to Turkey,” said Murat Abbas, the general director of the Zorlu Performing Arts Center, at a press conference on Feb. 12.
“This time it is the political climate,” he added, while explaining how it took additional effort to convince some of the artists and bands invited to the second festival slated for May 2 and 13 to come.
Not only the current domestic political climate but diplomatic strains in Turkey’s relations with certain countries have also made it more difficult for the festival’s organizers.
Gregory Porter, an American singer and songwriter, for instance, did not think it was the right time to come to Turkey amid ailing relations between Turkey and the United States.
But the festival will host American musicians like the composer and pianist Scott Bradlee; guitarist Bill Frisell together with Thomas Morgan; Too Many Zooz, a music group based in New York City, consisting of Leo Pellegrino, Matt Doe and David Parks; as well as Grails, an American band which has released six albums that combine instrumental rock, psychedelic rock and post-rock music.
Zorlu continues to benefit from the advantage of being an indoor venue and the fact that the performance center is next to an internationally renowned hotel where artists can reach the venue easily as well as VIP exits from the airport, all of which continue to be incentives to encourage artists to come to Turkey.
It probably did not take an additional effort to explain much about Turkey to convince Hugh Coltman, nicknamed “braveheart” by the festival’s organizers, to come, as the British singer and musician survived the coup attempt in 2016, which started right at a time around his concert during the Istanbul Jazz Festival.
All three stages of the venue will be used for the performances at the 10-day-long festival featuring blues, electronic, world, funk, indie, classic, pop and rock under the roof of jazz.
The Australian Pink Floyd Show, a Pink Floyd tribute band formed in 1988, is among the highlights of the festival, as well as artists with whom Turkish viewers will feel special affinity, like the Spanish vocalist Ara Malikian, a genuine talent who was born into the Lebanese Civil War. Malikian’s music is described as classical with a touch of new age.
Edin Dervišhalidović, known by his stage name Dino Merlin, a Bosnian singer-songwriter, musician, and producer who survived the war in Bosnia, is among renowned pop singers of the Balkans today who is also set to perform.
Tickets for the festival will be on sale as of Feb. 15.