How to Make Your Husband a Sultan

Türkbas, Özel

album cover

Oh, Those Steamy Turkish Nights

Disregard the cheesy cover and the how-to title (and the step-by-step photographs in the CD booklet). This is actually a fine document of Turkish nightclub music from the 1960s. It was put together by Özel Türkbas, the belly dancer who, with this record, began a campaign to take "the art of domestic seduction" international. Her ploy worked: The record sold 150,000 copies in the U.S. and over a million in Turkey, and was the first of several Türkbas hits.

Put this on, and the first image isn't of some scantily dressed cosmopolitan housewife of the era sashaying around snapping finger cymbals. It's more like a public celebration or a scene from a bustling dance hall, where the band is cranking out brisk, precise music that has everybody moving. Built around the wizardry of clarinetist Mustafa Kandıralı, this ensemble slithers and undulates, creating swirling waves of hypnotic rhythm. Several pieces leave room for improvised variations, and that's where things heat up. Kandıralı and violinist Cevdet Çağla keep the dance rhythm going while unspooling extended technically demanding embellishments. Like the swing-era musicians who had more to offer than "In the Mood," they manage to slip in subversive, jaw-dropping runs without shirking their main responsibility, accompanying dancers.

Genre: World, Turkey
Released: 1969, Traditional Crossroads
Key Tracks: "Taksimler," "Tokat," "Tin Tin"
Next Stop: Ivo Papasov and His Orchestra: Balkanology
Book Page: 790

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