The German based Zéhra label came to the fore a couple of years back with the essential reissues of two cult albums from Morocco, Apocalypse Across The Sky by The Master Musicians Of Jajouka and The Trance Of Seven Colors by Maaleem Mahmoud Ghania with Pharaoh Sanders. With a particular focus on ethnic sounds, they have recently turned their attention to Turkey with the reissues of two deep Anadolu folk albums recorded by Tülay German & François Rabbath in the early 80s.
Tülay German (born 1935 in Istanbul, Turkey) is a singer mostly known for her modern interpretations of Turkish folk music (her first 7" Burçak Tarlası from 1964 is considered the cornerstone of what was to become the Anadolu rock movement), while François Rabbath (born 1931 in Aleppo, Syria) is a French double-bass player and teacher, known as much for pioneering the so called crab fingering system as an alternative to traditional shifting (after watching a crab run and jump along the beach as the story goes), as for his solo recitals in the world of neo classical and his prominent role on the French jazz scene since the 70s.
Neither had any respect for the boundaries that separated classical, jazz and ethnic musicians and both were as comfortable playing chamber music at a formal concert one day and improvising with jazz musicians the next. When the pair met in Paris where they had both relocated, they decided to collaborate on two back to back albums which consisted of unique and modern interpretations of Turkish folk songs, naturally blending Eastern and Western influences while referring heavily on Turkish poets and the tradition of aşıks (singer-poets and wandering bards). Following on from their self-titled debut came the majestic Homage to Nazım Hikmet from 1982, on which they paid tribute to one of Turkey's most celebrated poets of the 20th century, Nazım Hikmet (1902-1963).
This is deep Anadolu folk music mixed with contemporary jazz in an intimate duo setting, which sees Tülay German on vocals and Rabbath on double bass and saz. Henri Texier's works from his seminal Varech and Amir LPs come immediately to mind on the great instrumental opener Homage To Nazım Hikmet which gives its title to the album. Tülay German’s haunting presence appears on the second track never to leave again, her passionate voice permeating an album which flows effortlessly, the sparse arrangements of Rabbath (Abidin!) turning these centuries old poems and melodies into glowing manifestos for love and justice.
The remastered vinyl sounds absolutely pristine, giving full justice to this fruitful collaboration which was recorded in one take, as Tülay German explains in the liner notes.
“My aim is not to leave a performance that is technically perfect, but one that is emotionally perfect”