a new recording awakens memories of cool jazz
By Jordan Elgrably
Sinan Işik, a young composer and pianist partially of Turkish heritage now living in Southern California (where his Egyptian-Lebanese heritage also flourishes), has just published his first solo recording, “Patience.” This is one jazz CD I listened to with repeated pleasure. The tempo is cool and the timing is just right.
Işik’s cover of Red Garland’s “Blues by Five” is a groovy update on a classic tune, one found, for instance, on Miles Davis’ 1956 album Cookin’. Here Işik’s quintet gives the piece all the energy it needs, while also imparting that mellow vibe that would make it great theme music for, I don’t know, a thoughtful radio show. Işik’s piano in the piece isn’t overbearing and as a result the other players are heard on the same level.
The title piece “Patience,” composed by Sinan Işik (along with five other numbers on the album), is a sunny mid-tempo jaunt, a walk along the shore, an internal exercise of self-questioning with a sense of humor, playful yet purposeful. Engin Recepoğulları’s tenor sax gets star billing on “Patience,” and the result of this piece is that patience pays off—take your time pondering whatever it is you need to mull over, and work things out.
The next piece on the ablum is “Ahab” and while it may sound eerily familiar, this is Işik’s composition. Are we meant to think of Herman Melville and the great whale? The roiling seas? Whatever, “Ahab” is in full control of the jazz lexicon that Işik the composer has chosen. The phrasing is clear, and the trombone in the piece, played by Bulut Gülen is a delight. So is Recepoğulları’s jumpin’ tenor rif. You can’t see him, but on “Ahab” Sinan Işik the pianist is smiling, loving the vibe, the camaraderie.
“Patience” was recorded in İstanbul, and the other players are also Turkish jazz artists—Ferit Odman on drums and Ozan Musluoğlu on bass. (You see them performing live at Nardis in Istanbul in the photo below.)
“Communication” is Işik’s third composition on the album and at first the brass gets into it with a prolonged conversation between the trombone and the saxophone, like two friends talking up a storm in Taksim Square, while drums, bass and piano provide the framing. Then Isik on piano becomes the dominant “voice” until Odman and Musluoğlu get their solos.
The CD’s fifth piece is another cover, this time “Silver’s Serenade” by the late great Horace Silver, followed by another Işik tune, “The Sea” and Işik’s meditative solo number, “He Has a Wooden Box,” which puts one in the mood to read Robert Musil’s The Man Without Qualities, or perhaps Harry Mulisch’s The Discovery of Heaven.
My own personal favorite on the Patience album is the ultimate piece, “Revolution is Love.” Maybe I just have a thing for revolution, or I can’t get enough love, but after listening to “Revolution” several times, I realized that Sinan Işik had gotten into my head, took me places I wanted to go, and brought me back to earth in a better frame of mind than when we took off on the journey.