AYDIN ESEN – 2022
Prodigious Jazz and Contemporary Music pianist Aydin Esen‘s sense of writing and natural feel of electronics – creating sounds from nothing with the use of his advanced sound synthesis techniques, very detailed thinking, understanding and extending the timbres of the language of the modern era – is puzzling so many serious musicians and audiences of our times.
“In 2000, JazzTimes magazine asked Chick Corea: ‘Who do you think is the best pianist in the world?’ The answer: ‘Maybe most of you don’t know him, but he is a Turkish guy – Aydin Esen.”
Aydin is a Turkish born pianist and composer but his style defies all else. He is the greatest improviser I have ever heard or seen in my entire time on the planet. The fact that he isn’t the most famous musician in the world is astounding to me. His story will be told but it may take another generation. There is nobody else in his class – Rick Beato – Producer & Guitarist
Aydin Esen started to study music at 2 as a student of his father, who was a trumpet player, (grandfather was also a musician) and a few years later for piano and composition at The Belediye Conservatory of Istanbul. In those very early childhood years, he started hearing, creating, and writing music. His father was a musician and his first teacher and that made young Aydin Esen way for infinite worlds of sounds. He composed and played new music without a stop while dealing with the academic attitudes of the time in the early 80’s and how frustrating that was to make people understand and get used to new sounds. Aydin Esen even radically changed some of the rules of harmonic theories of centuries ago while he was still at the conservatory. Lived with electronic gear which he believed was simply an inescapable extension of acoustic music that most of 20th-century composers did avoid. Dealing with the problems of the contemporary music of our times before he was 10 and that intense focus naturally would take him to different levels of sonic galaxies.
Leaving Istanbul at the beginning of the 1980’s he was invited to the Norwegian State Academy of Music in Oslo for advanced studies in piano, composition, and conducting. Toured Europe with different ensembles and worked as a studio musician everywhere. His feel on keyboards and knowledge for contemporary music was already known. In 1983, he left for the United States. Went to Boston with a full scholarship to The Berklee School of Music in Boston where he finished his studies in 1 year instead of the standard 4 years with the most prestigious award, the Artist’s Diploma. Later on, he received his Master’s Degree in piano and composition from the New England Conservatory of Music with honors. He did extensive touring around the World more often towards the end of ’80s. In 1987 he moved to New York with his wife Randy K. who also is a musician, and an exceptional voice.
Tours and recordings with Miroslav Vitous, Woody Shaw, Randy K., Vinnie Colaiuta, Pat Metheny, Roy Haynes, Anthony Jackson, Steve Smith, Baron Browne, Frank Gambale, Kai Eckhardt, Peter Herbert, Dave Liebman, Peter Erskine, Tiger Okoshi, Gary Burton, Daniel Humair, George Garzone, Mino Cinelu, Michel Portal, Trilok Gurtu, Can Kozlu and many other revered musicians from the music scene worldwide. His debut album “Trio ” with Eddie Gomez and Marcello Pellitteri made a big noise in 1986. The same year he formed the group “Transfusion” with Tommy Campbell, Kai Eckhardt and Randy K. In 1986 Aydin Esen, with Miroslav Vitous, Marcello Pellitteri, and Woody Shaw went on tour of Europe. In 1987, along with Tiger Okoshi, Miroslav Vitous, Bob Mintzer, and Bob Moses toured Japan for a month. Later, works and extensive tours followed with bass player Jonas Hellborg and drummer Kenwood Dennard. He once again teamed up with Miroslav Vitous and Trilok Gurtu, for an extensive tour about one year in the early 90’s.
Aydin Esen has received numerous awards for composition, keyboards and electronic music and in 1989 he received the First Prize at the International Martial Solal Piano Competition in Paris, one of his most treasured and important awards. Last year he was invited as a member of the jury for the new piano competition. His very rare workshops are known for their intense progressivity. Works as a studio musician and a solo artist with a variety of recording labels including Columbia/Sony Records, Polygram, Arista, JMS, Gramavision, Label Bleu and Music City. In 1989 he recorded “So Many Lifetimes” with Randy K. , Francis Bourrec, Peter Herbert and S. Can Kozlu, received worldwide critics acclaim and was picked for the record of the year. Invited to play in ”Timezones” with Austrian guitar player Wolfgang Mutspiel and Bob Berg. In 1990, the new record ”Aydin Esen” came out. He played in Paris, toured Europe and Japan, and always received great excitement. One of his recordings, “Pictures”, in the early 90’s, with Mick Goodrick, George Garzone, Can Kozlu and Peter Herbert was picked as The Album of the Year in 1990 in Japan. The record with Tommy Campbell”, Charnett Moffett, Kevin Eubanks, ”My Heart” and works with Randy Esen and on-going composing for the Orchestras with electronics instruments ever keeping him very busy. In 1991 Aydin Esen joined forces with Miroslav Vitous, Jerry Bergonzi and Daniel Humair on “Edges” album. “Anadolu” album was recorded in 1992 for Columbia/Sony Records in New York. That session would include musicians like Anthony Jackson, Dave Holland, Peter Erskine, Dave Liebman, Mino Cinelu, Dave Bargeron, Jon Faddis and Randy Esen. All of these recordings have been greeted with critical applause in the international scene. During 1995 and 1996 Aydin Esen toured in Japan quite extensively with artists featuring Tiger Okoshi, Miroslav Vitous, Bob Moses, Bob Mintzer, Chip Jackson, Gary Burton, and other revered Japanese musicians. He also kept on giving lectures and clinics/workshops worldwide about contemporary music. In 1995 Aydin Esen recorded a very special album titled “Landscapes” with Brazilian composer and guitarist Sergio Brandao and later on in 1996 another album ”x-Centrix” he recorded with clarinet player and writer Andrew Anello came out in New York. Guitarist Emily Remler was studying with Aydin Esen at the time and asked him to write and play for her record, “This is Me”. Went on thh road with Swiss drummer Daniel Humair and Peter Herbert later in 1997. Aydin Esen toured for some time with drummer Steve Smith, bassist Anthony Jackson, guitarist Frank Gambale and vocalist Randy Esen. And that led to the record “Timescape” in 2000. He also toured with Bob Moses, Kai Eckhardt, and with Michel Portal in an intense 9-piece band. He’s appeared in many different projects as a player, producer, and arranger.
Aydin Esen’s name is constantly mentioned in the contemporary music scenes and in the academic environments that are truly involved with the new music of our time. He plays and conducts a series of concerts of his new music and always extending the spectrum of the musical art. Actually the piece titled as “Signal” would give an idea of what’s on coming from one of the 21st century’s most serious composers. Another short but very intense piece “Scape” could be found in the “Timescape” of 1998-99.
“Timescape” was released on Nov. 99 with Aydin Esen on Keyboards, Baron Browne on bass, Steve Smith on drums, and Randy Esen on vocals. It was picked as the Album of the Year in 2000. He made another recording of his contemporary/electronics works ”Enfas” (1999). Also in ’99 recorded with long-time friend and a very special bass player Kai Eckhardt on Eckhardt’s debut album ”Honor Simplicity, Respect the Flow” with Kai Eckhardt on bass, Aydin Esen on keyboards, Sean Rickman on drums, Courtney Pine on saxes, and Zakir Hussein on tablas. It was released in 2000.
Aydin Esen’s CD “Living” with Miroslav Vitous and Vinnie Colaiuta came out in 2001. Clearly pointing again to the path for new dimensions in sound and total unity.
His commitment to the new generation of modern music is boundless, genuine, and unrivaled. And the journey goes on.
Aydın Esen’s approach to music derives its strength from momentary discoveries rather than conventional formulas.
His composition “Scape-X” (commissioned by Big Basel Festival) was premiered by the Ensemble Phoenix Basel with him as a soloist at the Big Basel Festival in January 2020.
The 9th April, 2021 eponymous release from multinational group Ayna Veer brought together extraordinary Turkish jazz icon Aydın Esen with three trailblazing musicians – fresh from Basel’s remarkable Jazz Campus.
3 rising star musicians (Vernau Mier on Sax (Spain), Eric Valle on drums (Spain) Nadav Erlich on bass (Israel) from the European scene have joined forces with the prodigious Turkish pianist for their eponymous debut album Ayna Veer.
Inspired by the fusion-era music of artists like Miles Davis, Chick Corea & Weather Report, yet informed by the modern scene, the album weaves post-bop sensibilities with contemporary, alto sax-led jazz and electronics, blurring the lines between tradition and innovation.
Whilst Aydın Esen has worked with greats such as Gary Burton, Dave Liebman and Pat Metheny, it’s by no means a special guest appearance. He takes his place equally in a group which features three graduates of the prestigious JazzCampus in Basel: Vernau Mier (sax), Eric Valle (drums) & Nadav Erlich (bass). https://aynaveer.com/epk/
Aydin Esen keeps on writing originals and searching for new sounds always pushing the sonic and artistic boundaries beyond limits now with a tour in 2023 in Europe with his Trio featuring Mark Egan on bass and Tommy Campbell on drums. And a new album by Aydin Esen is always on the horizon.
Aydin Esen’s Discography (Partly):
Several World Press Articles / Excerpts / News
- Aydin Esen has always been appraised as a keyboards player/composer and creator of the new ultimate sound-beauty. Followed by many musicians, artists and critics of our present times… His relentless pursuit towards the future in the high-ends of the sound cosmos with that meticulous care and attention to detail and the sense of flow that all are connected with an unmatched great touch magically in sync with mid-blowing compositions/writings reminding us the great masters of history, but way beyond all of them, surely… He has enormous influence on the young generation of musicians and artists…
- Regarded so highly in the contemporary art/music scene by all. He was born into a musical family. His trumpeter father gave him first lessons before he went into the istanbul conservatory in mid 60s.. Grown up with all kinds of music around – from classical/traditional to pop and his favorite always, the modern/contemporary/jazz fusion. . Started giving concerts at a very young age in his childhood. 1st prize winner of many competitions throughout the world.. Started touring the world while in teens.. After completing his studies in istanbul at the conservatory where he started when he was 5 studied for about 10 years of piano and composition. Later on he went to Oslo to study conducting…Got invitations for concerts and teachings worldwide after leaving istanbul.. Studied in Norway, the Netherlands and UK during his Europe years… Went to Berklee College by Gary Burton‘s invitation in 1983..…Moved to USA around then where he lived for about 15 years in New York City… He finished the Berklee School in just a year and was awarded the honorary Artist Diploma for the “first time” in the history of the school… His playing and writing skills are tightly connected with magical sense of things that he has that puzzled many…. In the early 90s, he was called and signed with Columbia Records. Continued recording with many other major labels and simply, he changed the name of the music game to E[sen]-Sound that world adore after him… Countless other achievements also that he made in the new electronic music world where he resides, it feels, in his heart, without speaking out loud.. he loved electronics and living with them and creating new sounds from nothing from the early age on.. Composed for electronic sounds with or without acoustical players didn’t matter much because he treats the all the same just like any sound-making-thing and he believes that the electronics is just an extension of past and a huge must.. In one of his CD releases ‘Light Years’ showed the world where it’s at.. These somewhat hidden music of Esen from the 80s and 90s.. Critically acclaimed other releases, like, “Timescape” and the “Living”…
- Personality and humble attitude comes with an immense knowledge of musical art.
- He did numerous studio sessions and live concerts with giants like Miroslav Vitous, Vinnie Colaiuta, Eddie Gomes, Marcello Pellitteri, Woody Shaw, Peter Erskine, Dave Holland, Pat Metheny, Randy K., Anthony Jackson, Tommy Campbell, Bob Moses, Jon Faddis, Stanley Clarke, Dave Liebman, Steve Smith, Dave Bargeron, Wolfgang Muthspiel, Milton Babbitt, Kenwood Dennard, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Michel Portal, Bob Mintzer, Weather Report, Baron Browne, Daniel Humair, Kai Eckhardt, Ranjit Barot and lots of other musicians and contemporary jazz/modern ensembles……
- Personality and humble attitude comes with an immense knowledge of musical art.
- A great example for the next generations……Great taste in music.
- Esen shows utmost respect to others and shows all the secrets of the new sound dimensions to his students all over the world. A true icon of modesty and one of the the great silent master musicians of all times… it’s the natural flow of everything that Aydin cares deeply for.
- Found the ultimate balance in sound that he believes could only be unique if treated as one music with no divisions of styles and things…..Concerns himself more with the inner beauty in sound cosmos rather than the looks.
- Aydin Esen’s name is already for quite some time a term. The Turkish artist plays neither nostalgic jazz standards, nor he plays for the public on the dancefloor or surfing on the present Worldmusic waves, as well. Aydin Esen plays „contemporary music “- sound, that creates a completely own atmosphere of fully playful impressions by the unusual arrangements.
- Aydin Esen’s captivating perfection comes from his extensive classical music training in piano at the Belediye Conservatory in Istanbul, where he studied from 5 up to 18 years of age. Lebensjahr became acquainted with Aydin Esen’s music styles featuring most unique kind and love. With this connection in piano, he went to Norway to study composition and conducting at The State Academy for Music in Oslo.
- Aydin Esen received numerous prizes for his music throughout the years. His first prize was at the International Piano Competition 1989 in Paris. He was invited to be a Jury member thereafter.
- He was awarded The Exceptional Artist Prize at the neighbouring New England Conservatory, the second world-well-known Boston talent school and he completed his Masters Degree with honor for piano and composition. Then he was invited to the Julliard School in New York to be a teacher.
- Aydin Esen’s style, compositions and lessons are creations of complete new worlds, that is the ultimate message for the future by him!
- We recently caught Aydin Esen in an interview in NYC… and he was expressing…“All I’m trying to do is to bridge our times toward to the next – we are already blessed with the beautiful sound of the past and of course, the recent… achievements in music and all arts leave us humbled – and I believe in connecting with all universe … putting our hearts out with such feel and the awareness of knowing for needs.”
BY JOHN SHAKESPEARE DYSON | JULY 12, 2019 Posted in Music & Performing Arts, – Classical Music, – Musical Share
in obedience to William Blake’s admonition (in his poem Eternity), I will express my heartfelt gratitude to a superlative musician – and say no more about it:
He who binds to himself a joy
Does the wingèd life destroy
He who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sunrise.
John Shakespeare Dyson – July 12, 2019 Posted in Music & Performing Arts, – Classical Music – Musical Share
There are some concerts – not many, just a few – that leave you with a feeling of euphoria, allowing you to forget everything that makes life a burden for just a few precious hours. The concert by the jazz pianist and composer Aydın Esen and his group on Friday, July 5 was just such an occasion. I believe that Mr Esen, educated at Berklee College of Music, New England Conservatory of Music and The Juilliard School, now resides in the United States, where he is highly respected – and deservedly so. His playing was, in a word, fantastic. In five words, it took my breath away. In 2000, JazzTimes magazine asked Chick Corea: ‘Who do you think is the best pianist in the world?’ The answer: ‘Maybe most of you don’t know him, but he is a Turkish guy – Aydın Esen.’
To me, part of Aydın Esen’s genius lies in the fact that the emotions he communicates in his music are immediately understandable. There is a quality of sureness in his self-expression that must surely be something to do with his fixed-earth Taurus sun and the rulership of Venus in that sign (Venus is emotional, and Taureans are definite).
Marvel at (in other words, dig) the chords in this next piece, an improvisation. How on earth does he make those atonal passages sound so melodic? His musical gifts are staggering, as a young fan with excellent taste confirms near the beginning of the video.
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