Sunday, February 6, 2011

When Turkey Meant Jazz . . .

And a welcome connection between Turkey and the city in which I now find myself . . .

From National Public Radio:
The Embassy of Turkey and Jazz at Lincoln Center announced a series of six jazz concerts today, to be held throughout 2011 at the residence of the Turkish ambassador in Washington, D.C.

Wait, what? Why would the biggest jazz institution the world has ever seen work with the Turkish embassy? What kind of backroom dealings transpired to make this seemingly arbitrary alliance happen?

A hint: They happened in the '30s and '40s.

Perhaps you know of Atlantic Records, one of the most important record labels for jazz and R&B from 1947 onward. John Coltrane and Charles Mingus recorded seminal work for Atlantic; so did Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Sonny and Cher.

Atlantic was co-founded by Ahmet Ertegun, who was later joined by his older brother Nesuhi Ertegun (the big jazz buff of the company). The Ertegun brothers were the two sons of the second Turkish ambassador to the U.S., Mehmet Munir Ertegun; they were in their teens when their father accepted the position in Washington, D.C. in 1935. The brothers were huge music fans, and threw themselves into the city's jazz scene.

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