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Thursday, June 15, 2023

Okay Temiz’s Oriental Wind – Live at Montreux Jazz Festival 1982 (CazPlak, 2023)

By Nick Ostrum

Turkish percussionist Okay Temiz is a legend, whose influence reaches far beyond the avant-garde as usually covered on FJB. That said, he certainly made his mark on free jazz, as well. He was quite active in the Scandinavian scene in the 1970s and appeared on some important albums coming out of it: a bunch with post-Ornette Don Cherry, including Organic Music Society , a handful with Johnny Dyani and Mongezi Feza including Music for Xaba and the archival Free Jam. The rest of his catalog is also impressive, though I am unfamiliar with most of the artists on his 80+ (and likely many more) releases. That branching, playing in different scenes internationally that practiced different styles is part of what makes Temiz so great. Unlike some, who find a sound, double- and triple-down on it and carve out their niche, Temiz goes wide.

One hears that on Live at Montreux Jazz Festival 1982, which has just been released for the first time on CazPlak. With Palle Danielsson on bass, Bobo Stenson on keys, Lennart Åberg on sax , Thomas Ostergen on guitar and Temiz on percussion, Live at Montreuxis a Middle Eastern-inflected, free jazz fusion scorcher. The liner notes explain the group integrates “more liberated versions of known Anatolia structures such as 9/8 rhythm sections” into jazz and rock vernaculars. Maybe that is what makes this so infectious: the complexity of the rhythms (Danielsson and Temiz make an immaculate pair) and Åberg’s and Ostergens aggressively snaking scales. Then again, I am not sure the effect is so reducible. Temiz has a fluidity that works in so many settings. He plays music that merges Egyptian, Scandinavian, American, British and other influences without exposing the seams and also without turning it into some smoothed and shiny mush. This music retains its edges and its drive. It gyres and spikes and glides. It is imminently danceable, but I am not sure what, exactly, such an intricate dance would look like. Too much goes on around the melody and, especially, the rhythm. It is a ball of energy, consisting of rotating strings of melodic fire that pulse around Temiz’s glowing polyrhythmic core. And, ultimately, it is a real archival treasure.

And if you are not convinced yet, check out this film recording of the entire set:

Apparently the vinyl (European, Japanese and Turkish editions) is sold out, but you can still pick this one up as a download on Bandcamp: