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Nardis jazz club Istanbul
Article added on June 12, 2011
  
An intimate club in the heart of Istanbul: Nardis

Jazz has a long history in Turkey. The military regime never cared to censure music. The army, navy and the air force even had jazz big bands. There was a good jazz school at Bilge University.

Today, t
he booming city of Istanbul offers a rich nightlife. On the music front, several jazz venues manage to survive. One of them is Nardis, a hot spot mainly for Turkish jazz musicians, music lovers and intellectuals with a female club owner who also runs the country's leading jazz magazine.

Zuhal
 Focan founded Nardis in 2002 because, at that time, there were no venues for local jazz musicians in Istanbul. They used to jam at Focan's house where she had a piano, drums and many of her husbands guitars. Zuhal told me that Önder, her husband, a famous Turkish jazz musician, wanted his peace at home. So, with the push from local musicians, she started her own club.

Nardis is an intimate jazz club situated in the European heart of Istanbul, just 100 meters from Galata Tower, a major tourist attraction. Zuhal Focan offers six days of live music per week. Nardis is only closed on Sundays.

Zuhal focan told me that Mondays and Tuesdays are dedicated to creative music (not necessarily jazz). Wednesdays and Thursdays feature “hard-core” jazz as well as new jazz projects. Fridays and Saturdays often feature jazz singers. Normally, musicians perform two sets of about one hour each, interrupted by a half-an-hour break.

Among Zuhal Focan's favorite musicians are singer Sibel Köse (Sibel Köse at Amazon.com), whom I have witnessed one night at a Nardis concert, pianist Burak Bedikyan as well as singer Elif Caglar, who has studied in Istanbul and New York (with
Sheila Jordan). By modesty, Zuhal did not mention her husband, whom I have heard perform live at the club. Among us, Önder Focan offered the best jazz night I have enjoyed in Istanbul over a period of three years.

Zuhal and Önder Focan told me that the club's primary focus is on local talent, but musicians from all around the world have played Nardis, including Wynton Marsalis (2008), Dave Liebman, Benny Golson, Tierney Sutton, Kurt Elling and many more.

Nardis is a small venue. Therefore, Zuhal (normally) neither has the means nor the space to invite the big stars, which mostly play two big jazz festivals in Istanbul. That does not mean that her club does not offer quality. During my 2010-Istanbul trip, just when I visited the club to listen to a Dutch trio with Hans Kwakkernaat (p), Joots Zoeteman (g) and Taeke Stol (b) playing the music of Oscar Peterson, Nardis
was considered the number one live music spot in Turkey according to a Hurriyet newspaper report (October 15, 2010).

Last but not least, in 1996, Zuhal Focan founded Turkey's leading Jazz Magazine (Jazz Dergisi). A quarterly magazine focusing on festivals, concerts and releases in Turkey and around the world. Jazz in Turkey owes a lot to one lady!




A few notes on Önder Focan

Zuhal's
husband, Önder Focan (*1955), is a more than well-respected jazz composer and guitarist, but also a mechanical engineer and designer and still working as such. He told me that he started playing music in 1970. First a rock enthusiast, he searched for the roots of rock and found jazz in 1975. Jim Hall, Wes Montgomery and Joe Pass were his early inspirations. In 1985, he began to perform publicly. He released his first two albums (JAZZ GUITAR and Önder Focan Group: ERKEN) in 1994, featuring classical Turkish music in his jazz arrangements. He had various bands and also played as a sideman in other bands. He toured Europe and the US. His collaboratins include Wess Anderson, Scott Hamilton, Russell Malone, Pat Metheny, John Abercrombie and others.

In 1997, Önder Focan performed in the Guitar Night which was organized by MIDEM with 11 international guitarists representing the Istanbul Culture and Arts Fund (IKSV). The Artist's 1998 CD, BENEATH THE STARS honoured him as the one and only Turkish jazz artist who has released an album on the Blue Note label. The album featured the great drummer Bill Stewart and Hammond B3 player Sam Yahel.

In 1999, Önder Focan recorded VOCALISTS with Sibel Kose, Ajlan Buyukburc, Aydin Kahya, Slide Hampton, Brian Lynch, Doug Weiss and Hugh Sicotte, which includes Onder Focan tunes with lyrics.

In 1999, Önder Focan performed at the 80. anniversary concert of Thomastik Infeld Strings in Vienna, with whom he played again in 2001. In 2002, he collaborated with Hofner Guitars at the winter NAMM shows in L.A. In November 2001, he released a CD entitled STANDARD A LA TURC, recorded in Helsinki, Finland, which features jazz versions of Turkish popular tunes.

In 2002, Önder Focan was involved in SIJF (Spontaneous International Jazz Friends) project which was lead by the German bass player Stefan Weeke. He recorded a CD entitled No.One with drummer Ernst Bier, which was released in Germany the same year.

In December 2001 in Vienna, Austria, he recorded a duo album with jazz bassist David Friesen entitled REMinisce, released in Turkey July 2003.

In 2004, he released an album entitled "Kirmiziya Caliyor" LIKE RED with Ercument Vural, Alp Ersonmez, Cengiz Baysal and Tunc Cakir, which became very popular in Turkey.

In 2007 followed my favorite Önder Focan-album,
Swing A La Turc (order the CD from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk  or Amazon.de). The Önder Focan featuring A. Senol Filiz (ney), Senova Ulker (tpt), Erdal Akyol (b), Ferit Odman (d), Cem Aksel(d). All arrangements are by Önder Focan.  Swing A La Turc offers a straight jazz approach to Turkish tunes with the use of the traditional Turkish instrument “ney”.

In 2009, Önder Focan released the album 36 mm Biometric. His 6tet included Engin Recepogullari (ts), Senova Ulker (tpt), Hakan Cimenot (tbn), Erdal Akyol (b), Ediz Hafizoglu (d). The album features original tunes by Önder Focan arranged for three horns.

The 2010-project On the Way to Damascus is a collaboration with the Luigi Campoccia Quartet. Turkish and Italian musicians meet. The album features Luigi Campoccia (p, keyb), Paolo Corsi (d, perc), Rossano Gasperini (b), Daniele Malvisi (ts, ss), Aziz Şenol Filiz (ney) and Önder Focan (g).

In 2000, Önder Focan was elected best artist in Western Music by MSM Art Center (Mujdat Gezen Sanat Merkezi) Istanbul. -
Önder Focan at Amazon.com.


 

Önder Focan, Sam Yahel, Bill Stewart and John Nugent: Beneath the Stars - Yildizlarin Altinda. Released in 1998. Önder Focan is the only Turkish artist to have released an album with the famous Blue Note jazz label (until today, he has released 3 Blue Note albums). Order the CD from Amazon.co.uk.


Harry Conick jr. and Band at Nardis. Photos © Nardis Jazz Club.


Önder Focan Group: Swing A La Turc. Order the 2009-CD from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk  or Amazon.de. The Önder Focan featuring A. Senol Filiz (ney), Senova Ulker (tpt), Erdal Akyol (b), Ferit Odman (d), Cem Aksel(d). All arrangements were by Önder Focan.  Swing A La Turc offers a straight jazz approach to Turkish tunes with the help of the traditional Turkish instrument “ney”. - Jazz trumpet sheet music.


Timucin Sahin and Yahya Dai jam together. Photos © Nardis Jazz Club.




Daniele Eva, a jazz singer from the United States. Photos © Nardis Jazz Club.


The American guitar player Mike Moreno. Photos © Nardis Jazz Club.


Mike Moreno. Photos © Nardis Jazz Club. -  Jazz trumpet sheet music.

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