Guitarist and composer Sinan Bakir Releases "Tales & Stories"


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Guitarist and composer Sinan Bakir, a native of Ankara, Turkey, who has chosen Hartford as his adopted home town, celebrates the launching of his second album, Tales & Stories (Aslan Records) with a CD release concert Saturday, Nov. 10, at 7:30 p.m. at the Buttonwood Tree, 605 Main St., Middletown.

And he has much to celebrate with his fine new release, a welcome follow-up to his debut disc, the acclaimed and aptly titled, On My Way.

Graced with Bakir's distinctive style on guitar, Tales & Stories is also a showcase for his composing skills with its dozen richly varied new tunes. Melodically intriguing, harmonically rich and rhythmically varied, it even features odd time signatures that Dave Brubeck , the great time signature juggler, would love, including such funny looking notations with many happy results as 7/8, 5/4 and 9/8.

On the encore disc, Bakir is accompanied by pianist Warren Byrd, bassist Thomson Kneeland and Mark Ferber. Both Kneeland and Ferber played on Bakir's premiere disc, “On My Way," and once again provide tight collaborative support. Byrd is a solid addition as he contributes empathetic accompaniment and significant solo contributions.

The 12 varied pieces sometimes mix East and West elements and range from the diaphanous to hard-swinging pieces swaggering with digital dexterity and mental agility. All are engaging, clear, uncluttered, accessible and resonate with a pleasant sense of layered mystery, seasoned with savory hints of the exotic.

Right from the opener — the title tune, “Tales & Stories" — Bakir sets the mood with his signature sound, bending notes and unfolding luminous phrases that produce an evocative aura. Maybe this Sinanesque sound he evokes comes from Turkish musical influences he heard as a child, melded with all the American music he has absorbed into his own musical persona.

Whatever the explanation, Bakir's tone just by itself makes him distinctive, in addition, of course, to his fluent playing and writing. These forms of expression remove him far from the more common category of clone rangers, guitarists religiously repeating licks, chapter and verse, of whoever the current guitar hero happens to be at the moment.

Quite imaginative, all the pieces seem to have narratives of their own.

The music can be dreamy but never rheumy, since it's perpetually enlivened by jazz vitality and the quartet's esprit de corps, which provides a perfect stage for Bakir's wide-ranging reflections. It can be poetic or celebratory and soulful, even as euphoric as a wedding party. Here the party is actually Sinan's happy wedding of East and West.

You can't make out exactly what the storylines are, but you can feel that there are tales evolving inside the music.

Or as Bakir writes in his liner notes:

“Music has the ability to bring the listener to a place which can only exist in our minds, free from time and space, in a way similar to traveling into a world an author has imagined. Tunes in this album have their own stories, and they are inspired by the people I encountered in my journey, from love, joy, grief, hope and dreams."

Owen McNally - Hartford Courant

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