Français: : Great drummers

Temiz Okay

Musicians or bands:

Ulvi Temel, Maffy Falay, Don Cherry, Johnny Dyani, Dexter Gordon, George Russel, Clark Terry, Bobo Stensson, Pale Danielson

Biography and commentary:

Okay Temiz is a Turkish percussionist and drummer (born in 1939 in Istanbul), probably the first to mix jazz (modern drumset) and traditional Turkish music in the 1970s (if we exclude the attempts of Joe Morello with Dave Brubeck : example: "Blue Rondo à la Turk", album "Time Out", 1959). He has traveled and worked with many jazz musicians around the world (Sweden, USA, South Africa, etc.). Turkish music is marked a lot by the complex rhythms with asymmetrical measures (as in Persia or India, or in South Asia, where the Turkish people "passed" and settled throughout the centuries). These rhythms, often break down into simpler measures (2/4 or 3/4), make well this musical culture, the most sophisticated rhythmically in the world, contrary to stereotypes that associate this sophistication to the music of Black Africa. In fact, these complex rhythms (measures in prime numbers of beats, notably: 5, 7, 11, etc., very difficult to "think" and play), to be made more accessible to the public, are often played in unison by all instruments in the Turkish tradition, unlike the African percussive music, where it is the polyrhythm which is complex and predominant (superposition of different measures), but in general with basic measures almost always simple (binary: 4/4 ) sometimes with a subdivision of each beat in 3 (triplets or even swing), and rhythms in 3 over 4, 6 over 4, more rarely 5 over 4, in choruses (concepts taken over in the American jazz and rock). In other words, if the Mandingo (with perhaps the Voduns and most recently Cuban and Brazilian people, which are also partly descended from these African people), are for me the greatest savants of polyrhythm, Turkish and Persians, are those of rhythm. Each culture has its musical preferences in fact, historically, sometimes dictated by religious prohibitions originally to distance itself from the others: arrhythmic polyphony in Christian Europe, melody in middle east and far east or with the Celts ("arabesque" , arpeggios and ornamentation). The Turks also influenced the Near East and even Maghreb (listen to the Franco-Algerian drummer Karim Ziad), where they settled before and during the Crusades (Seljuk Turks and Mamluks). I also remind that the most common drumset cymbals (crash and rides) and the snare and bass drums are Turkish inventions brought into France under Louis XIV, at the time allied with the Ottoman Empire (listen to the "marche pour la cérémonie des turcs", from Jean-Baptiste Lully composed for the comedy-ballet "Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme" (1670) by Molière in the court of the "Sun King", with no cymbal but with drum, although representing a beginning of "Turkish fashion" ("Turquerie"), even if slightly mocking). They had a martial and ceremonial use by the Turks, often riding (Janissaries), complementing trumpets and timpani, hence the pair, one on each flank of dromedary, for balance (timpani are themselves probably of Mongolian origin (called "naccaras"), they were used to give the signal for ambushes during the conquests of Genghis Kahn, which also included Turkish regiments, and traditional bamboo mallets with felt are an indicator of this cultural origin). Adopted with difficulty in Europe (long considered as "noise" by the aristocracy, because of their uncontrollable and indeterminate tone but also certainly for religious reasons), timpani are still used for parades of the Republican Guard on horseback, in France, since Napoleon Bonaparte. The French word "tambour" (“drum”) itself comes from the Persian "Tabir". Okay, has built himself a whole drum set with Turkish darbukas (goblet hammered bronze drums, usually played with fingers, modern battery being finally essentially composed of Turkish instruments originally, if we exclude pedals and stands, and taken over as they are in European armies) instead of the toms, and he is also a "polypercussionniste" who plays all the percussion instruments of the world with a Turkish "touch" but also African, Brazilian, jazz or very "fusion" rock. A drummer to discover that opens vast horizons to creative drummers (Terry Bozzio has notably composed a solo based on Turkish music, imitating a darbuka (Turkish or Arabic) with the feet independently with the playing of the hands on the toms and cymbals: "Cairo").

Marc De Douvan, publication in French: November 22, 2006 (for the translation in English: July 12, 2015)

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