Immortalised in Music

‘Blimey!’ I hear some of you exclaim. ‘I thought you’d blogged-off this mortal coil like that William Barker fellow who has ‘gone for the long rest’.’ Not just yet, mate – there’s life in the old blog yet!

A little while back (OK, OK, it was October last year) I wrote about Ali the zurna maker who intrigued and then delighted us with his enthusiasm for his craft. Well, J and I decided that we’d buy one of his beautiful creations to send as a gift to renowned saxophonist John Surman. John had seen the original post and had commented how much he appreciated craftsmen-performers like Ali who were indeed a dying breed. Some of you will know from previous postings that JS is family.

not these two – we chose one of pear wood the other I can’t recall

Anyway, in the end we bought two of Ali’s zurnas, which delighted him no end. It also delighted us because we know how much these things cost in places like Istanbul and Ali’s ‘country craftsman’ asking price was the reason we settled for two. J explained to Ali that his masterpieces were to be shipped to Norway where JS lives. A fair degree of lip-pursing and teeth-sucking ensued. ‘Well,’ exclaimed Ali, ‘hmm! I won’t be able to go there to fix up his reeds when he needs new ones.’ And he started to rummage about in his bags and tins of bits and bobs. He made up a kit of parts and spares (even down to little squares of sandpaper) that was to be sent with the zurnas. Then there followed a master class in reed making for us so that we could enclose written instruction to complete the kit.

Everything was packaged and eventually arrived, intact, with JS in Norway. To say he was delighted would be an understatement. So delighted, in fact, that he promised to write and play a piece with the zurna dedicated to Ali and all that he represents.

Below is that piece, played by John on one of Ali’s zurnas. He called it ‘A Song for Ali’s Zurna’. It is beautiful, haunting and very John Surman.

When lock-down here in Turkey is eased we’ll make sure that Ali gets copies of this and more information about who JS is and his standing in the musical world. Ali’s world is centred around a few villages up here in the mountains so I think he’s going to be amazed and delighted – how about you?

Alan, happy to be locked-down up here!

 

6 thoughts on “Immortalised in Music

    1. For some reason, on my first reading the link to the song didn’t appear. So I came back this morning at breakfast, holding my phone in one hand, which inadvertently covered the speaker at the bottom (while drinking tea with the other hand). The buzzing vibrations from the zurna came through “loud” and strong against my hand. My ears preferred the song once I’d moved my hand, but a lovely reminder that music is a real, truly physical interaction carrying from Ali to John to their audience.
      Wonderful to hear from you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Bobbi, I enjoy writing/having a yarn when there is something to yarn about. Mostly, our life up here in the mountains, whilst wonderful for J and me, would be pretty boring for most other folks. Lovely to hear from you and trust the world is treating you kindly.

        Like

  1. Alan, great to see you back in print. And what a wonderful story you have told, with a fantastic ending. John, if anyone, can do Ali’s zurna justice. Just beautiful! We hope to be hearing more from Boff’s Blog.

    Liked by 1 person

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