"It is clear in all of the pieces, that fluidity as well as unpredictability of water underlies the playing of both musicians. There is always an element which challenges both performers, yet ultimately lifts the music to a higher level where the musicians "collide". Nowhere do Sophie Hassfurther and Oguz Büyükberber get into trouble with each other, the elusive nature of water does indeed characterize their unity."
"Sophie Hassfurther and Oguz Buyukberber leave the familiar paths to engage in a dialogue which blends various styles. Expanding on Contemporary Music through Jazz, they create picturesque sound sculptures, that resonate both skillfully and powerfully"
It all started at Salon Goldschlag in 2018. Actually it started much earlier, but that concert in June 2018 was where we presented our program for the first time the way it was recorded in the following days and put out on the CD which we will be presenting in two weeks.
I had an inspiring conversation with a friend the other day. A graphic artist herself, she admired how musicians can improvise, create music on the spot. It seemed like magic to her. There are technical aspects of course, music theory to be learned and forgotten, physical boundaries and the limitations of the instrument. But the act of improvising remains magic.
We had been working on the raw material for the previous two years to develop fourteen duo pieces. There is a mix of compositional strategies. Some pieces are fully composed. Some are purely improvised. And some consist of composed and improvised sections. As Christoph Irrgeher of Wiener Zeitung put it: “A dialogue of airy, often lyrical sound gestures unfolds, carried out on the frontiers between Jazz vocabulary and free tonal expression.”.
The fact that it is hard to tell to which extent the music is improvised / written out is intentional. This open setting of little or no prior agreements demands a lot of musical empathy and trust from the people involved. It won’t work with just about anybody. It works very well between Oğuz and me. Henk Jansen of the Dutch Klarinet magazine had flattering words for it: “Their interplay is strong, intimate and unerring”.
We will be playing a series of concerts in Vienna, Passau (D) and Hallein. Ö1 Jazznacht will be hosting me on Saturday Nov 9th and our concert on the 11th of November will be broadcast on national radio. Woohoo!
I just got back from an intensive 3+ days of rehearsal for the theatre project Gilgamesh – reloaded. The piece is an adaption of the oldest written epic of humankind, that has been preserved in full. A chamber play with storytelling (in German…), video and music. We will re-open on Friday in Saalfelden. This time with a focus on the female narrative, the changeover from matriarchy to patriarchy.
Gilgamesh is a ruthless king, ignorant of the laws of nature and of the boundaries of his fellow men or women. Only the love for his friend Enkidu and the grief over his death turn him into a compassionate being. This ancient tale is also a story of the 21st century, in which many powerful people go crazy and we are at a turn of the tide.
Gilgamesh, you won’t find the life you are chasing. I tell you something: Laugh and dance. Celebrate each day. Look at the kid, holding your hand. Let a woman become happy in your arms. For this is humanity’s destiny.
Gilgamesh, das Leben, dem du hinterherrennst wirst du nicht finden. Ich sag Dir was: Lache und tanze. Mach jeden Tag zu einem Fest. Blick auf das Kleine, das deine Hand hält. Lass eine Frau in deinen Armen glücklich werden. Denn das ist das Ziel von euch Menschen.
Our album Mind Like Water will be available from 22nd of March. Woohoo! This is the cover front:
We had a few difficulties with the cover. Last minute obstacles make me very nervous. I ordered a few days later than I had expected, but hey!
In my last blog post, I described how the titles for this album came together and how they relate to Shakespeare, Buddhism and human communication. Now I want to tell you how this duo came into being:
Oğuz and I go back a long time. It is hard to say when exactly we first met, because it feels like he has always been around. It must have been some time in late 2000. We were both studying at the Conservatory of Amsterdam and hung out frequently. We went to the same concerts, played in the same bands. One of his compositions on the CD – Dağ – dates back to that time.
We shared the same interests and hung out and played concerts together. When I moved back to Vienna it became harder to stay in contact. Nevertheless we continued playing in several projects recorded a quartet CD together, and in 2012 Oguz invited me to be part in his Bimhuis carte blanche concert in Amsterdam.
In the meantime, life happened and it was June 2016 when we started this duo. At the same time Cafe Kurkuma opened its doors and quickly became a favorite hot-spot in Hallein. A place for the growing group of art and music interested, for young families, for coffee lovers. We were delighted to be part of the opening. What started as an experimental journey into playing duo among old friends turned out as a very colorful new ensemble project.
Another two years passed before we even played the next gig, but there was lots of writing music and getting together to rehearse and experiment in the meantime. I love the process of writing my own music, rehearsing it, adjusting things here and there, developing ideas, until finally there is a version that I like enough to consider a composition. I wrote most of my contribution to the music on the CD during those two years.
In June 2018 we played a concert at Salon Goldschlag. Martina and Uwe are graphic designers and organize a small series of music in a semi-private setting. They also host exhibitions several times a year. If you come to Vienna go check them out!
The next day we went to Hallein to record for two days, one day in an old industry building called Alte Schmiede, the second day live at Café Kurkuma. Nine months later, Mind Like Water will finally be available On March 22nd! The wonderful filmmaker Nicole Baïer documented our recording on video. I will release snippets from that footage once the album is out. For now, another tune, it is called Clarinet Song.
Sophie Hassfurther: tenor sax
Oğuz Büyükberber: bass clarinet
Water responds intuitively, follows its path even when there are obstacles and immediately afterwards regains its original state. When you improvise, alone or with others, music will take you places. When you respond intuitively, great things can happen. I wrote something along those lines in my last blog post on finalizing our upcoming album, called Mind Like Water.
This is what making music feels like to me. There is a sort of trust – trust in the universe, in music, or in “the flow” – that will take you to this state of mind. But how do you establish trust in the universe, you might say? After all, we are cruising at high speed around a burning ball of hydrogen and helium, in the middle of freaking nowhere, on this tiny planet, which we are ready to destroy at any time.
Honestly, I don’t have an answer to that. There is no recipe and no How-To. What I can say is that, trust in yourself is a first step. Trusting your sound, your breathing, the physical side of playing an instrument, and hearing the music coming out of your horn an instant before you play it. Trusting the people in you band to move along with you. Or to take the music elsewhere and come back later. Focus. Mind Like Water.
A lot has happened in the last week, zooming in to tweak the details: the title order is finished, we have a cover draft and we are making some minor changes in the mix at Feedback Studio Vienna. Finally all tunes have a title! Gasp! References are Shakespeare (The Tempest), Zen analogies and human communication. Pretty cool mixture, I must say.
Oğuz made the beautiful cover draft. He is one of those highly skilled people, who can play an instrument at the highest perfection and be a graphical artist at the same time. Oğuz does most of the artwork for his projects himself, which I find very cool. You can find him on Instagram. If you are into Instagram.
The cover is still a draft, so I can not share it here, but the top picture will be on it! Michel Marang took the photos. Not only is he a great photographer, he is also an amazing classical clarinettist. All those gifted people involved in this production!
We had a lot of fun during the photo shoot. Our location happened to be the building in which the Conservatory of Amsterdam was located back in the day. I used to attend theory classes there. What a flashback.
I am sharing one more piece. It is quite different from Mind Like Water, our title tune. This one is called Wild Waves Whist.
Sophie Hassfurther: tenor sax
Oğuz Büyükberber: bass clarinet