There are coincidences. When I was twenty, in the darkest part of the Soviet era, I traveled to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and came back with many records of native folk music. I could not have suspected then that I would one day meet a singer from Turkistan in Zurich. I was driven to Central Asia by a desire to get away: to steppes and deserts, to the cities and routes of the legendary Silk Road, which had always excited my imagination. What names: Bukhoro, Samarqand, Khiva, Alma-Ata. What a mix of peoples: Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Kirgiz, Turkmen, Uigurs. As if all of Central Asia were one great caravanserai, framed by the snow-covered mountain ranges of the Altai, the Pamir, and the Tian Shan.
I remember the searing heat in Tashkent, shadowy tea houses, colorful markets, the gigantic apple plantations around the Kazakh capital of Alma-Ata, varied faces under varied hats and headscarves, and the music that cast a spell on my ears. Its melancholy monotony opened the spaces of my longing.
And suddenly, decades later, the voice of Saadet Türköz. Even voices can hit home, deep inside, and be so touching that worlds open up. Yes, there it is again, the Kazakh lullaby, the love song, the dirge. There it is, but new, different. Saadet sings lushly and gently, with girlish whimsy and womanly warmth, with long breath and a timbre that touches on all moods. Exhilaration becomes sorrow, and even sometimes an abyss; the voice — full and sustaining a moment ago — sinks away, and out of the confident, extended and vibrating thirds comes a descending, unfathomable glissando.
One wonders how Saadet Türköz conjures up such richness out of the almost childish simplicity of some melodies. The answer can only be this: she trusts her voice. And the many voices around her. She is consciously part of the Kazakh folk-music tradition, from which she also gets her improvisational talent (which is not at all a paradox). And nobody would dare to claim that she flirts with ethno-sounds. For her, her background is an obligation and at the same time a code for longing—homeland as unending search.
Saadet comes from a Kazakh family from eastern Turkistan, which was annexed by China (along with its capital Urumchi) and now belongs to the province of Sinkiang. Her parents fled to Istanbul, where Saadet was born. She has been living in Zurich for a long time now. The paths of her musical self-discovery are as complex as the geographical and cultural coordinates of her origin. In her sensitive move "back to the roots," Saadet Türköz keeps getting closer and closer to herself.
Some of the songs on this CD were recorded in Almaty (formerly Alma-Ata), others in Beijing, always accompanied by Kazakh musicians. Stillness comes from this music, as if it were touching timeless, archaic feelings. Nothing seems feigned, pretentious, or forced. No technical embellishment is involved; what counts is the pure voice, the voice with its astonishing expressiveness.
There cannot be anything more exciting, or anything more moving. The steppe has long since begun to appear before us, a bride has long since begun to cry, and the bird of happiness is moving into the distance. We are in the middle of life and its mysteries, in the universe of Saadet Türköz.
released January 1, 2006
Saadet Türköz: Voice
Karşiga Ahmediyar: Dombra on 2, 3, 6, 10
Sayan Akmolda: Kılkobuz, Dombra on 1, 5, 7, 8, 13
Talgat Mushık: Sazsırnay, Shankobuz, Sıbızgı on 5, 8
Selim Kerey Sıdıyık: Dombra on 9, 11, 12
Mamer Rayeskhan: Dombra on 14
Almagül Davletkalieva: Kılkbobuz on 4
Eldar Saparayeva: Cello on 4b