A highly regarded figure in his native Turkey since the 1990s, pianist-composer-arranger Fahir Atakoglu is only beginning to make his mark on stateside audiences. His latest offering, the compelling world-jazz project Faces and Places , may be the breakthrough album to finally gain him widespread acclaim here.
Boasting an all-star cast of trumpeter Randy Brecker, guitarist Wayne Krantz, Yellowjackets' saxophonist Bob Mintzer, Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo, bassist John Patitucci and Horacio"El Negro" Hernandez on drums, Faces and Places is a formidable followup to 2008's Istanbul in Blue (a ferocious fusion project that reached #1 on the JazzWeek World Music Albums chart and features guitarists Mike Stern and Wayne Krantz, tenor saxophonist Bob Franchesini, bassist Anthony Jackson, and Hernandez on drums).
It's great, of course, to play with these musicians," says the celebrated 46-year-old pianist-composer from Istanbul. They bring the best to my compositions; Their use of colors, their timbres and most importantly their personalities. So when I get together with these musicians, all I want is to capture the moment. That's what is most important."
The energy and ideas surging through Faces and Places are apparent from the outset, beginning with the invigorating, chops-busting opener Into You" through the Middle Eastern flavored High Street." Atakoglu's Turkish roots come into play on the challenging 14/8 vehicle, Faces," while the flamenco flavored Mediterranean" conjures up a vibe reminiscent of Chick Corea's '70s classic,My Spanish Heart. Rio Da Noite Intro" opens with an evocative motif created by a blend of synths and strings sounding like it might've come from one of Atakoglu's orchestral film scores. The strings paint dark, mysterious hues here as Mintzer (on soprano), Fahir and Lubambo each add powerhouse solos.
Randy Brecker makes his first appearance on the decidedly funky NY-Retrospective," an Atakoglu original that combines the energy and urgency of New York with some hints of his own native Turkey. The off-kilter groove number Rhythm of Corners" showcases the chemistry between Atakoglu and his longstanding drummer Hernandez while the hauntingly beautiful ballad ...and Places" features flamenco guitarist Rene Toledo against a lush string arrangement. Brecker returns for the slamming Seven," a funky throwdown which features a particularly nasty, distortion-laced guitar solo from Krantz, and Mintzer is showcased blowing robust tenor lines over Fahir's lush and provocative string arrangements on the gorgeous ballad closer, Your Face."
Atakoglu dedicates this album to all musicians who have come to the United States from all corners of the world: Those who follow their dreams and touch people's hearts, lives and souls with their music."
Fahir Atakoglu is a prolific composer who first gained fame in his native Turkey in the early 1990s for his best-selling soundtrack to a popular documentary film on Turkish history. Born in Istanbul, Atakoglu began playing piano and drums at age seven. He later studied with Cemal Resit Rey, Turkey's famous composer, pianist, script writer, and conductor, and subsequently attended the Istanbul State Conservatory from 1978-1980. In 1980 he moved to London and for five years studied at the London School of Music and Croydon College. After earning a degree from Croydon College in 1983, he returned to Istanbul to work as a jingle composer in the advertising sector. Beginning in 1987, Atakoglu has created music for commercials, news segments, and documentaries, and has even fulfilled commissions for the Istanbul National Opera and Ballet. He has also composed music for Turkey's top bands and musicians, including Sezen Aksu, and Sertab Erener. He composed music for Greek musician Notis Sfakianakis, with Atakoglu's song Telos Dios Telos going platinum with sales over 480,000 copies. Since his rise to fame in 1994 Atakoglu has recorded eighteen albums that have sold over two million copies in 17 countries including the United States. Atakoglu continues to compose film scores, ballet music, operas and other symphonic works while also performing solo and trio concerts around the world.
Faces and Places is an adventurous and rewarding musical journey, conceived and realized by a talent who is definitely worthy of wider recognition.
- FACES & PLACES: featuring Rogerio Boccato, Randy Brecker, Wayne Krantz, Horacio 'El Negro' Hernandez, Romero Lubambo, Bob Mintzer, John Patitucci, Rene Toledo - FAR&HERE LLC-2009
- UCLEME-TRIO: 3 CD album - FAR&HERE LLC-2009
- IZ: the 25th Anniversary - FAR&HERE LLC-2008
- ISTANBUL IN BLUE: Fahir Atakolu, Horacio El Negro Hernandez, Anthony Jackson, Mike Stern, Wayne Krantz, Bob Franceschini - FAR&HERE LLC-2008
- EAST SIDE STORY: Fahir Atakoglu demonstrates his virtuosity with the music he composed for the Istanbul National Ballet's East Side Story, a DanceTheather created by Aysun Aslan - FAR&HERE LLC-2007
- BEYZANIN KADINLARI: Movie - Original Music/Score - March 2006
- LA LUNA / AS ONE: Fahir Atakolu - FAR&HERE LLC-2005
- IF: Fahir Atakolu / Horacio 'El Negro' Hernandez / Anthony Jackson - FAR&HERE LLC-2005
- LIVE IN ISTANBUL 2: Symphonic Concert - Re-released as Live In Istanbul - FAR&HERE LLC- IMAJ Nov 2004
- MINIATURK: FAR&HERE LLC-2003
- AS ONE: Universal Music Turkey, 2002
- Dar Alanda Ksa Paslasmalar: OFF-SITE Movie - Original Music/Score - January, 2001 - distributed by BMG
- FAHR ATAKOLU First Of All"- Fahir's Music Distributed to 17 Countries By KOCH International - April 2000
- FAHR ATAKOLU 75.Yil Konserleri Concert for the 75th anniversary of Turkish Republic
- LIVE IN ISTANBUL FAHR ATAKOLU Symphonic Concert (Live at Istanbul Open Air -IMAJ Co-Production
- YARINA DRT ISIK (Four Lights For Tomorrow) Yarina Dort Isik (Four Lights For Tomorrow) - December,1996
- FAHIR ATAKOGLU 2-Tempa Foneks
- FAHIR ATAKOGLU 1 Tempa Foneks