The Israeli tour with saxophonist Tom Soloveitzik and cellist Kevin Davis in June 2010 is one of the most important defining artistic and emotional moments in my life and career as an improviser. After five concerts in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa, Tom, Kevin and I had a recording session in the historic town of Jaffa. This recording turned into an album called Three States of Freedom – three musicians from three states: Israel, the US and Turkey. Three States of Freedom is now available on Creative Sources Recordings, a prolific Portuguese label run by Ernesto Rodrigues.
The liner notes, written by Tom Soloveitzik, tells the story of the tour and the album much better than I ever could.
The story of our meeting is not so different from many other meetings between musicians in the rather small world of improvised music. In October 2009 I travelled from Israel to Istanbul. Curious to connect with like-minded improvisers, I contacted Korhan, a founding member of Turkey’s pioneering free improvisation group, Islak Köpek. Korhan arranged for us to meet with Kevin, the group’s American-born cellist.
We played in a little studio in Galata, an ancient neighbourhood that has been home to many shifting communities over nearly two thousand years
of Istanbul’s cosmopolitan history. As a result of this we decided to form a project that eventually resulted in a tour of Israel and a recording session.
As it happened, our tour began in June 2010, just a few days after the May 31 raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla in which nine Turkish citizens were killed by the Israeli military. The incident marked a new low point in diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel. We were once again reminded of the bluntness of politics and the fragility of the human condition. Korhan and Kevin’s arrival in Israel took on another layer of significance.
Our tour coincided with a heat wave, too. We saw cars stopped by the side of the road, unable to cope with the heat. In Jerusalem, a hundred thousand ultra-Orthodox Jews took to the streets to protest a Supreme Court decision that ruled against ethnic discrimination in one of their schools. Weather, politics, religion; it seemed that nothing would ever cool down. We pushed on through Tel Aviv and Haifa, and finished a week later in Jaffa, where we recorded this album.
A line was drawn from our first meeting in Istanbul to our last days in Jaffa. While we recorded, this line hovered in the air, connecting our individual histories with a multitude of histories of confrontation, resistance, and co-existence. The music we made together wasn’t political per se, but it opened a path for an international dialogue different from the one that was going on around us. Music travels to places diplomacy cannot. In ways audible and inaudible, these histories add another dimension to our sounds.
The album is available on the Creative Sources website as well as Metamkine.