Öçal played first at migrants’ events in Germany and Switzerland. In a short time, he earned a notable reputation in European jazz and world music circles. He played in self-launched formations and as a percussionist in other musical projects, including those with Joe Zawinul, Jamaladdin Takuma, the Kronos Quartet and Sting.
At the peak of his career, Öçal wanted to combine the ethnic Balkan instruments of his home region of Thrace such as the kettledrum, trumpet, oud, and clarinet with a modern beat. This is the idea behind the Trakya All-Stars Project, whose creation Nedim Hazar and his team accompany in this film. They also discover the stories of the musicians of Trakya All-Stars. These are Roma who immigrated from Thessaloniki to the Turkish part of Thrace in the 1950s. A considerable part of their repertoire is inspired by the musical spirit of this multicultural port city.
Band members such as Ahmet from Saray, Savaş from Çorlu or Saffet from Soma - that’s how Roma in Thrace call themselves - are surprised when they arrive for recording in one of Turkey’s best studios in Turkey, the Istanbul ITU MIAM Studio. Smadj, the French-Tunisian musician and composer, was playing back the Roma rhythms there with electronic devices.
This project was one of the first and most successful music productions of the legendary Istanbul record label Double Moon Records and producer Ahmet Uluğ. Hazar’s 2003 film was the first of its kind ever to be broadcast on Turkish television and opened the way for many others. Films such as “A Voyage With Mercan Dede “, “Özcan Deniz Without Make-up” and the documentary series “Our Background Music”.
Nedim Hazar Bora
Istanbul - 1001 Documentary Film Festival