Thursday, March 1, 2012
Ilhan Ersahin – A Turkish saxophone master in New York
Ilhan Ersahin, composer and saxophonist was born in Sweden in 1965. He is the son of a Turkish father and a Swedish mother. He began playing saxophone when he was 16. “I gave a lot of trouble to our neighbors” he says, “I was playing my saxophone without cease.” Before 16 he played squash in Swedish National Team.
Interesting story… Right?
16 doesn’t seem to be an early age to begin playing a music instrument but he has always been associated with music. After he started to play saxophone, he never stopped playing.
It has been more than 30 years. Not that short!
After reading Jack Kerouac’s masterpiece ‘On the Road’ Ersahin felt like Stockholm is not the city where he can follow his dreams. He always wanted to live in a ‘city of music’. Living in New York was his biggest dream. He applied to one of the best schools in the world; Berklee School of Music. The school was not in New York but he was able to carry out his first goal. At least he was in the States. After finishing school he moved to New York. Finally! He was young and had no idea what to do! He memorized the history of Jazz. He worked and performed in some clubs. His first solo album ‘Home’ was released in 1997, he has 16 albums right now with different bands. His new album Istanbul Sessions – Night Rider is going to be released very soon.
He has worked with significant artists such as U-Roy, Erik Truffaz, Jane Birkin, Gilberto Gil, Athena, Duman and Norah Jones. Norah Jones performed as the lead vocalist for two years in his band Wax Poetic.
İlhan Erşahin owns the New York jazz club “Nublu” and his own record label under the same name. He is married to a Brazilian and has a 12-year old daughter. His favorite cities are New York, Istanbul and Rio de Janeiro where he performs mostly.
Since 2007 I have watched at least four of his performances in Istanbul or New York and enjoyed all of them. He has an incredible energy on the scene.
Ilhan Erşahin is able to speak English, Swedish, and Turkish fluently; he can speak some Portuguese as well.
It was a memorable experience to meet and interview İlhan Erşahin who is one of the most important and influential Turkish musicians and composers.
Here's my longer article on Hurriyet USA daily newspaper in Turkish.