Various Artists – Uzelli Elektro Saz (1976-84)

Album Review | Uzeli | Review by Allan Wilkinson

The traditional Saz or Bağlama looks a little like a cross between a lute and a bouzouki and has three pairs of strings and in some cases an extra seventh. With its attachment to Turkish culture, the acoustic instrument has been around for centuries and is immediately recognisable by its distinctive sound. Uzelli Elektro Saz (1976-1984) takes thirteen examples of the instruments’ versatility in its electric and amplified form, a development still frowned upon in some quarters. This unique compilation, culled from a mammoth archive of such recordings, brings a new sense of vitality, both as a lead instrument and as an accompaniment or sparring partner to vocal performances.

As the instrument maintains its status as a dominant force in traditional Turkish music, the tracks are carefully gathered from the tape archives of the Uzelli record label, curated by BaBa Zula’s Murat Ertel and his wife Esma Ertel. The choices are varied, with each selection a demonstration of the versatility of the musicians involved, with some great performances throughout. As an introduction to the Saz and to Turkish music in general, look no further.

Choice Track: Darildim Darildim (NSV 497)