The Ayde Mori Story
I was introduced to Muammer Ketencoğlu through my old friend Nurhan in 1995 . She knew that I was interested in Balkan music and told me to look him up. I’d been in Istanbul for several months at that point, trying to get a grip on some of the basics of Turkish musical theory and Rumeli repertoire but it was getting time to explore more pieces of the puzzle. I went to a concert Muammer gave at Boğaziçi University entitled Yer Yüzünün Yedi Rengi (Seven Colours of the Earth) and introduced myself. We met later for tea at his flat and I understood that I was in the company of a most serious music collector. We decided we should get together and work on some tunes with singer Sumru Ağıryürüyen and the rest is…what it is.
Muammer was already quite involved in researching and performing Rembetika and Klezmer, which took him far and wide, and the first couple of shows we did together came under the auspices of his Yer Yüzünün Yedi Rengi programs which featured several singers and multiple guest musicians. Over the next few years we slowly built up a varied body of songs – the criteria mostly being that we liked the tunes and that they were roughly from the Balkans. Musical architect Cevdet Erek was drafted as our dedicated percussionist and we became a fairly regular quartet. In the summer of 1999 we did a wonderful set of gigs in North Cyprus and late one night, as we bobbed out into the warm Mediterranean waters, we thought how nice it would be to record our concert program as a souvenir of our Balkan musical adventures. I was planning on going back to Canada, Sumru was working on her own songs and Cev was looking to delve full time into higher education.
The recording we made in the spring of 2000 was a little more ambitious than just the concert recording we initially envisioned. Our studio engineer and guiding light was the late Tanju Duru, Muammer brought in a number of excellent musicians to round out our performances, dear friend Jon Stigner took our photo, artist Memed Erdemer did the CD design..and we took it to Kalan Müzik who released it in 2001.
For a group that was not longer a group, for a recording that was an imaginative (albeit mostly traditional) hodge-podge of Balkan rhythms and languages, for something that was just intended to be as much a document for ourselves as something to unleash on the Turkish music buying public, it did pretty well.
Over the next couple of years we did a few shows in Turkey and Europe without Cevdet when I could manage the travel from Canada. Eventually Muammer put together a new line-up that he called Bir Balkan Yolcuğu – an entity that is still going to this day with a two wonderful singers Selda and Şule and a brand new recording in 2017.
Ayde Mori still has a life of its own. It was and still is imitated in Turkey. It seems to have struck a real chord with Turks of Balkan descent who, at the time we released it, were hard pressed to find anything on the commercial market that wasn’t a keyboard driven wedding band. Many of our interpretations of the songs were used in the popular Turkish TV drama Elveda Rumeli and one song, Jarnana, was picked up by an International Dance teacher and taken to workshops around the world. People are still dancing it in circles.
Occasionally, we’ve been able to reunite as Ayde Mori although only once with Cevdet who is frequently traveling the world himself as an artist. We’ve all gone on many different paths, done many different things and, in short, gone far beyond what Ayde Mori ever was. But it’s still a lovely memento of our time, well wasted.