Exclusive stream: Mehmet Ali Sanlikol, “What’s Next?” (2014)

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The pianist, composer, conductor and ethnomusicologist Mehmet Ali Sanlikol knows a lot about music from around the world, be that British prog rock or traditional Ottoman music that’s connected to this Bursa, Turkey native’s ancestry. But he fell in love with jazz as a teen and whatsnext (out on April 3, 2014, via DÜNYA) fulfills a pinnacle for him: to lead a full jazz orchestra in performing his original compositions.

Sanlikol is not just any big band leader, and his upcoming record caught my attention due to the inventiveness in inserting such a diversity of styles into this record. The first track, “What’s Next?”, stuck out not so much becuase of that, though. Check out the exclusive stream of this track that we’re premiering below: it’s spunky, intricately arranged, and turns on a dime from one swingning groove to another one, as what happens at the two minute mark, for example. And then, Sanlikol brings it down a couple of notch so that he can build the song back up again.

There’s a modern feel to the song, one I couldn’t pinpoint the source for until I noticed that there’s electric guitar and bass in it, subtly adding a contemporary punch to the song. Tenor saxophonist Aaron Henry is there to supply a traditional kind of punch in the form of a tirelessly ardent sax solo.

The song does come full circle, revisiting the motifs introduced at the beginning to bring it to conclusion. In five minutes, Sanlikol must have stuffed about tewenty minutes of ideas into this composition.

You won’t read about me singing the praises of too many contemporary big band jazz records because so much of what’s out there today has been done before…way before. Mehmet Ali Sanlikol offers a fresh take on the old form.

Go to Mehmet Ali Sanlikol’s website for more details.

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