KONSTRUKT & JOE McPHEE
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Turkish free-improv group KonstruKt was formed in 2008 by guitarist Umut Çağlar, and since their inception, they’ve gained notice through their collaborations with such old-guard stalwarts as Evan Parker, Marshall Allen and Peter Brotzmann. The latter introduced them to the legendary Joe McPhee at the Krakow Jazz Autumn festival, and after striking up a friendship, they invited him to join them in Istanbul for a concert in March of 2014. Babylon was recorded the day after he arrived, with no prior rehearsal or discussion, although the seamless meshing could fool anyone into thinking that they were a longtime working group. Çağlar came from an electronic music background before delving into free jazz, and it’s reflected in the incorporation of moogs & a theremin into the ensemble’s arsenal. The music itself swings from space-raga improv to soaring, full-throated anthemic melodies; some sort of Joe Meek jazz world where bird squeal falsettos pierce through a current of drums, only to struggle for breath, come up laughing, and take off far above. McPhee says, “These guys are the real deal,” and he should know. Download coupon included.
“McPhee draws out the electric fireworks here. Korhan Futacı and Umut Çağlar’s organs, moog, and theremin climb into a space capsule as backdrop to McPhee’s skittery pocket trumpet vocalizations. Side A of this LP (with download) has exquisite moments of ferocity that cull music from both electric Miles and Sun Ra.
Side B opens with the a dueling extended technique between McPhee and Korhan Futacı. Their interplay weaves a remarkable 12 minutes of instantly composed music. The same can be said for “Tek’e,” where McPhee takes up his tenor to encircle Futaci and Özün Usta’s cura. The interplay is masterly and majestic.” – Mark Corroto, All About Jazz
“Babylon is the group’s first meeting with McPhee, heard here on pocket trumpet and tenor saxophone across four group improvisations recorded live in Istanbul. Beginning with the dual charge of Micro-Moog and Moog Theremin, McPhee teasing out brass flutters into incisive darts, the ensemble enters a diffuse, electrified lurch. Futaci switches to a detached mouthpiece, thin spiral cries dovetailing with the trumpeter’s more elegiac wander over a canvas of drums, organ and arco bass. With Usta on a syrupy amplified axe, Futaci’s grassy reed shrieks are in stark relief to a plasticized, nearly psychedelic environment, and with his tenor fully assembled, the harrowing brays that emerge are a lean parallel to Ayler’s otherworldly tradition. Both saxophonists are in full view on “Involution,” dryly interweaving or stepping out for a heel-digging spotlight, with Futaci’s alto particularly shout-worthy. The closing “Tek’e” is rooted in traditional Turkish melodies and opens with a guitar-saz duet (Usta is on the cura, a miniature saz), backlit by occasional percussion before the saxophonists enter in hoarse ululations, blindingly fast group improvisation encircling the naturally incisive lines of the saz for a heavy crowning performance.” – Clifford Allen, Ni Kantu