World Trip Records WTR001 (www.minorempire.net)
All my initial scepticism immediately disintegrated with the first track of Minor Empire's debut release “Second Nature.” No second rate bad world music here. Leader/electric guitarist/programming guru Ozan Boz has carefully eliminated any such occurrences with his careful combinations of Western pop sounds, jazz improvisations, and Turkish traditional music and his superb arrangements. Toss in band members Ozgu Ozman (vocals), Michael Occhipinti (electric guitar), Chris Gartner (bass) and Debashis Sinha (percussion), Ismail Hakki Fencloglu (oud) and Didem Basar (kanun) and the result is a smart band creating intriguing sounds and melodies set to a backdrop of funky beats.
Especially noteworthy is Zuluf Dokulmus Yuz. Ozman’s sultry vocals weave effortlessly through a tapestry of musical influences. What a great idea is to have short interludes based on makams with catchy titles like Ozan's Psyche and Selim's Anatomy (featuring the amazing guest clarinettist Selim Sesler) which allow the instrumentalists to solo and shine.
Unfortunately there are no translations for the lyrics. I learned a long time ago in my band playing days that the listener wants to know the meanings of the lyrics. But the production values are high and the sound quality superb. Fall is the time to get back to work and back to school. There is no better backdrop than the worldbeat sounds of “Second Nature” to get you back into the groove.