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Written in fRoots issue 345, 2012

Sevda - Exclusive Collector’s Edition

Caprice CAP 21820 (2011)

In Britain the musics of the Middle East, as brought here by the many immigrant musicians from there, have had relatively little influence on British jazz. The jazz of the Nordic countries, though, has evolved in its own way, to some extent influenced by their own indigenous traditional musics and also those of settlers from other parts of the world.
     Turkish trumpeter and pianist Muvaffak “Maffy” Falay moved to Stockholm in 1960 and played in various jazz bands, and also with Don Cherry when the latter also came to Sweden. Turkish drummer Okay Temiz moved to Stockholm in 1969, with his specially made kit that replaced toms with polished copper darabukkas. In 1971 the two formed Sevda with a Swedish saxist and double bassist, and soon brought over from Turkey Salih Baysal to spice it with his maqam-based, rough-toned amplified fiddle improvising.
     Caprice, the record label of the Swedish concert instititute Riksconserter, wanting to help Swedish jazz by recording and releasing it, asked readers of a couple of magazines to vote for the jazz band they’d most like to hear on record. Sevda was chosen, and the result was two live LPs, one the soundtrack to a show for Swedish TV as a septet, the other a quintet concert recorded a week later to what seems to have been a very small audience in a club in Copenhagen.
     Now Caprice has released a boxed set of both albums together with a DVD of the TV show. The format of both shows is similar: first Baysal solo, joined by Temiz on hand-played darabukka, then the whole band, with Baysal joining them.
     The Copenhagen show is the one, though; splendidly wild and exciting, with Baysal improvising around his Turkish traditional tunes very much the central feature. The larger band for the TV show, while it has Baysal singing as well as playing, makes it rather more cluttered, and the viewing experience of the DVD is made rather boring by the almost constant presence on the stage of a jump-suited little Swedish girl free-form dancing determinedly but stompily.
     The group disbanded after a few years, when Baysal went back to his village on the Aegean where he ran a small guest-house and played for people if they asked. There’s at least one other striking record made while he was still in Sweden, though, that I came across second-hand in London years ago: an LP called Salih Baysal – The Myth, released in 1978 by Sonet, of even rawer 1972 and 1973 recordings in which he plays and sings unfettered by other pitched instruments, just accompanied by pounding, clattering percussion from compatriots Temiz and Falay.
     www.capricerecords.se, UK distributor www.discovery-records.com

© 2011 Andrew Cronshaw

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