LAHZA Grooves at Salon
Two rising, powerhouse instrumentalists, guitarist Cenk Erdogan and drummer Mehmet Ikiz (aka ikiz) met in the blink of an eye in Istanbul and formed the Nu jazz duo LAHZA after the Turkish word for split-second. Strongly nuanced with a stellar array of electronic gear, such as the Nord Drum 3 steadfastly employed by the kit of Ikiz, they have dreamed up a powerful album of original compositions and new folkloric arrangements, and perform them live with mind-bending, intensive perfectionism.
First released digitally in May of 2017 by Kabak & Lin and Stockholm Jazz Records, the self-titled nine-track work explores the perennial ground where the artifices of technology confront the immanence of music. "Rooms" stamps down an infectious melody and groove pairing with high-minded percussive vision. Together they are mixed-media artists at play in the boundless space of creation, having formed beyond the fold of various bands to come together and simply hone the essential art of the sound crafts they have mastered.
ikiz makes his drums sing, fast to the pocket and stretching it wide open for all to hear. Hyper-conscious and deviant, he is a monster in one minute and a technician the next as he taps out meticulous times with his fingers while holding true to a stick in the other. And the variety of sticks nearly matches his seemingly effortless knack for virtuosic diversion. On the other side of the stage, Erdogan exhales funk harmonies drenched in live ambient electronica while breathing in ever so exactly on the constant backbeat with stunning, forceful dynamism.
"Water Says" is another defining track, expressing the special talent that Erdogan has on his double-necked and fretless strings for the traditional Turkish maqam scales of his beloved cultural heritage, as shared with ikiz, yet fused with a transcendent feel for European jazz. Riding hotly on rhythms that escalate with the energy of rock and even metal at times, the duo reanimates onstage chemistry with a down-home vibe throughout every cerebral sonic venture.
Familiar way-original musical pairings come to mind, not the least of which is the Mehliana project, as drummer Mark Guiliana exudes a similar quality with ikiz from his fresh and flashy spring of polyrhythmic ecstasies over the improvisational wonders of pianist Brad Mehldau on electric keys. Another is SQÜRL, the downtempo scratch rock project by filmmaker and guitarist Jim Jarmusch and multi-instrumentalist drummer Carter Logan. In Turkey, there is LAHZA, who kicked off a five-city tour after surfing the self-made sound waves at Salon on Dec. 12. In the blink of an eye, they emerged to float on the Golden Horn horizon and envision new musical tradition with aural gifts from beyond the pale of silence.
Photo Courtesy of Salon IKSV