Jazz in Turkey?
Jazz in Turkey the documentary can be summarized as a project in which I explore the condition, evolution and interaction of Turkish jazz music and its musicians, in parallel to Turkish history.
The spark for this project, I suppose, were my encounters with İlhan Mimaroğlu’s late 50s book Caz Sanatı (Art of Jazz) and the slim appendix called “Summary: Jazz in Turkey” in Cüneyt Sermet’s 90s book Cazın İçinden. Afterwards, conversations with the Focan family led me to realize that despite the massive intention for research and observation regarding the topic, the project was yet an orphan. In a country with limited archives, calling the oral history-based project a daring “Turkish Jazz History” would be beyond me, so I decided to name it Jazz in Turkey instead. We started filming in 2011.
The greatest hindrance for an oral history project, I suppose, is the potential of the interviewees getting lost in the turbulent waters that range between deep modesty and high ego when talking about themselves. Turkey’s jazz story, which I compiled from interviews with 50 people, partially carries elements of a chronological history documentary. However, due to the interviewees’ approach and what they delivered, I started evaluating it as “the impact of jazz music to Turkey.” When this impact is attributed to a sociological development process, one can easily notice the structure evolving in phases. The codes involved in the process are political manoeuvres, mimicry, original advancements, technical development, social perception, determinant self-confidence and artistic spirit. I think, this documentary’s mission is to voice a sincere “interpretation” of how outright facts are perceived in different social strata, rather than revealing buried historical truth. A sincere “interpretation” that pours from the minds and hearts of dozens of people…
Jazz in Turkey is easily the first product in cinema format on this subject, which also covers then-broadcasted TV and radio shows.
I am aware of the obsession with saying something is “a first in Turkey.” However rather than concentrating on its “first”ness, what motivates me more is wishing that it will not be the “last.”