Whether a collaboration between musicians – both musically and personally – is going to work is always uncertain. When violin player Wouter Vandenabeele and guitarist Thomas Noël first met Turkish singer Özge Öz Erdoğan and percussionist Ayten Çelik there sure were some uneasy moments. Özge was really surprised that there was no baglama player involved, she said the project definitely wouldn’t work without one. Wouter convinced her that Thomas was a real good guitar player whose playing could easily replace it. The rehearsal started with Özge presenting a few of her songs, and immediately she did feel comfortable with the instrumentation. She didn’t need the baglama after all – everything sounded just perfect to her.
Everyone gave their own twist to the music. When I went to see the rehearsal they already expanded their repertoire to 8 pieces. Özge with her great warm voice, interprets the songs in a sensitive way. But she is a great improviser as well. She sings along to the melodies that Wouter and Thomas are playing – sometimes really fast. It is a feast to hear those 7/8 rhythm songs with unexpected breaks and tempo and melody changes. The most important thing is that they are having fun playing around and enjoy making this music. It’s moving.
Text written by Wim Wabbes, artistic director of Handelsbeurs Concertzaal and cofounder of Istanbul Ekspres