Kalaha + Hilal Kaya with Aarhus Jazz Orchestra: Tutku

Danish collective and Turkish singer Hilal Kaya offer a bundle of serious fun, mixing meditations, synth-pop, folk, Anatolian rock and disco


The core of Kalaha is the Danish quartet of Knudsen (elg), de Waal (d, pc), Christiansen (syn, v) and Elkjaer (syn, laptop). They first played together in an improvised performance at the 2013 STRØM electronic festival in Copenhagen. All are imaginative and dynamically sensitive musicians committed to the sort of multi-cultural, often Middle-Eastern inflected collaboration which was evident in Kalaha’s previous Mystafa release on April Records.

While the wide-ranging line-up of Mystafa included several vocalists, the equally expansive albeit more overtly cohesive Tutku spotlights the female Turkish singer Hilal Kaya. Domiciled in Denmark, Kaya appeared on three tracks on Mystafa. Here her lively but also meditative phrasing takes centre stage together with the root Kalaha quartet and the excellent Aarhus Jazz Orchestra.

The result is an exhilarating blend of celebratory riffs and rubato meditations, mixing freshly voiced jazz figures with both metric intricacy and synth-pop structures and textures. Overtones of devotional invocation and supplication (Tutku, Evliya, Luga Laga), folk (Deva), Anatolian rock (Ince Ince) and disco (Disko Yolu) feature strongly in the mix.

The dynamic whole flies high and wide on a carpet of enticingly turned backbeats and polyrhythms. Sample Kaya’s resonant, soaring projection in Evliya, Ince Ince and the initial rubato meditative measures of Luga Laga – or relish the diversely voiced band power in Evliya, Dinle Dünya, Ince Ince and – especially – the steaming “dance-out” that is the concluding Ekmek Fabrik.

In sum, Tutku is a bundle of serious fun, with tasty colour and lines from Knudsen, Christiansen and Elkjaer and consistently potent drumming from de Waal (if you don’t know them, check out his lovely Handmade In Denmark and Vente quartet sessions on April Records). Like its predecessor, Tutku should appeal widely, especially to those who enjoy exploring the sort of genre-dissolving terrain that lies somewhere between and beyond, say, Okay Temiz, latter-day Weather Report and Natacha Atlas.

Tutku; Cok Küstüm; Dinle Dünya; Deva; Evliya; Disko Yolu; Ince Ince; Laga Luga; Ekmek Fabrik (42.24)
Niclas Knudsen (elg); Emil de Waal (d, pc); Jens “Rumpistol” Christiansen (syn, v); Mikael “Speijderrobot” Elkjaer (syn, laptop); Hilal Kaya (lead v); Aarhus Jazz Orchestra: Jens Christian Chappe-Jensen (cond); Kari Brien, Johan Toftegaard Knudsen, Michael Bladt, Cesar Joaniquet, Michael Olsen (reeds); Lars Vissing, Thomas Fryland, Lars Søberg Andersen, Hans Christian Ilskov Erbs (t); Jonas Lindh, Tobias Stavngaard, Jonathan Bruun Meyer, Niels Jacob Nørgaard, Lars Peder Brinks Sørensen, Niels-Ole Bo Johansen (tb); plus Lasse Michelsen (elb on Deva); Orhan Ozgür Turan (backing v on Cok Küstüm). Vejen, 10-12 January 2022.
April Records APR100CD