Onur Aymergen Quintet: Lunar

Turkish guitarist reminds of Martino and Metheny in a set mixing swing, rock and free-jazz, high energy and moments of repose


A (chiefly) Turkish release led by electric guitarist Aymergen, who wrote all the material, Lunar should appeal to anyone drawn to quality post-Martino and Metheny music with a special tonal mix (guitar, trumpet and piano) offering modal force and harmonic nuance alike, melodic pleasure and cascading, shape-shifting dynamics and rhythm. While the music draws upon a diversity of both swing and (tempered) rock elements, there is also some free-jazz energy in the mix, as in the opening of Winter.

The leader has a charged, clipped and ringing sound and while often burning at quite some rate, Aymergen is open to the colouring afforded by sustained tones, the play of light and shade, space and silence. Ditto the fine pianism of Cankaya, as strong as it is subtle, and the similarly varied trumpet of the excellent Bilgin: sample all, as well as the multi-planed and assured drumming of Bekoglu, on the opening Yeditepe.

Overall, the music is distinguished by lucid, often singable themes, top-quality playing and group interaction of a most accomplished and creative order, handling various tempi and grooves with both urgent assurance and a mellow sense of nuance and atmosphere – the whole exemplified by the shape-shifting Northern Lights. Note also the two-part title piece.

Only one of the musicians was familiar to me, the Greek bassist Apostolos Sideris, whose Summation album on Fresh Sound I reviewed favourably in November 2019. He has many a fine moment here, in both pizzicato and arco mode: enjoy his darkly turned pizzicato introduction, quietly shadowed by Aymergen, to the moody Huseyni. Such subtlety is but one aspect of a refreshing group date of consistently captivating ambition and quality.

(1) Yeditepe; Spring; Huseyni; Lunar pt 1; Lunar pt 2; Winter; (2) African Ballad; (1) Northern Lights (55.24)
(1) Aymergen (elg); Can Cankaya (p); Tolga Bilgin (t); Apostolos Sideris (b); Yurgu Alp Bekoglu (d). (2) as (1) plus Ida Amergyen (v). Istanbul, November 2021.
Losen Records LOS 265-2