When considering Jazz, Istanbul probably wouldn’t come top on your international hit list. This however would be a real oversight as it’s melting pot of cultural influences makes this sprawling city the perfect hotbed for the genre to thrive.
The city now boasts two yearly jazz festivals; The Istanbul International Jazz Festival in June/July and Akbank Jazz Festival in October both lasting two weeks. As in most cities jazz clubs have sprung up and Music–News.com decided to venture out to Nardis Jazz Club to explore further.
Named after a Miles Davis track the performers at ‘Nardis’ include gifted amateurs, local jazz luminaries and visiting international talent. It’s the brainchild of jazz guitarist Onder Focan and his wife Zahal – and the venue feels very much like the realisation of a musicians dream. The intimate venue with exposed brick and candlelit tables is found close to the Galata Tower. Downstairs is the bar and several scattered small tables where you could pretty much reach out and touch the musicians and upstairs gives the perfect vantage point for those wanting a little more distance. The sound and sightlines are great wherever you sit. There’s also table service throughout and attentive staff offering up a wide range of drinks and some snacks. Come early on weekends or in high season if you want to be sure of getting a table.
Tonight’s musicians were the Yaz Baltacigil Quartet with Senova Ulker on trumpet, Eylul Bicer on guitar, group leader Yaz Baltacigil on double bass and Murat Verdi on drums. Taking to the small but perfectly formed stage for the first of two sets it was immediately evident that we were in for a treat. Traditional in style the pieces flirted with your emotions throughout the evening with the more melancholic numbers tapping into and unleashing an unforeseen emotional groundswell. I can’t speak for everyone but myself and my colleague were certainly buffeted around by the poignant trumpet, so delicately delivered every sinew tugging at a new heartstring. The Turks I understand have a word for this collective melancholia which brings comfort ‘hunzun’. The impressive guitar work and enticing double bass were further embellished by the ounce perfect weighting of the drums.
With a full program throughout the week (8.30-1.30), except Sundays, if this is the standard on a Monday night I can only imagine what Thursday, Friday and Saturday will lavish upon us. Not to be missed for jazz aficionados or anyone caught up in the romance of the ‘La La Land’ Jazz club dream. This is the musical venue dream realised.
The perfect musical break needs a boutique hotel that completes the emotional attachment to the city and The Westist Hotel & Spa struck the perfect chord for us. Offering extremely well designed ‘Smart Rooms’ which raise the spirits without breaking the bank balance. ‘The Westist’ is located in the heart of the fashionable Beyoğlu district and is perfectly situated for Nardis Jazz Club (a delightful 10-minute walk) as well as the main sights, sounds and restaurants of this incredibly trendy city.
For a special treat you could also venture to Soho House. The Italian restaurant and Cowshed spa is open to non members, and the stunning main house offers incredible vistas from the varied terraces on the exquisite site of the old American Embassy, with a selection of quality cocktails to kick-off any night out.
In short Istanbul has so much to offer that everyone will benefit from the friendly local spirit, in a city that has so much history as well as exciting new business and architecture and a vibrant contemporary art scene. With a historical past that is hard to rival Istanbul is making the most of its thriving art, culture and music scene. We highly recommend a visit to Nardis jazz Club Istanbul’s little gem and everything else this city has to experience.
Nardis Jazz Club
The Westist Hotel & Spa
Istanbul from the Bosphorus