Crazy fingers

Preview: Burhan Öçal & Ensemble
Laxson Auditorium Friday, Oct. 24, 7:30 p.m. University Box Office, 898-6333

Think you’re pretty good at tapping out that beat with your fingers? Well you haven’t heard anything until you’ve heard Turkish multi-instrumentalist Burhan Öçal get busy. Try 24/4 time signatures, every finger tapping ancient drums like precision spark plugs. This ain’t no porch bongo banger.

Burhan Öçal (pronounced “bo-RON oh-CHARL") was born in the city of Kirklareli in the European part of Turkey. His father owned several cafàs and coffeehouses, and Öçal grew up surrounded by the wild music of Gypsy ensembles. He was taught early to play the darbuka hand drum and other age-old percussion instruments such as the kos, kudum and bender, all of which he mastered. Öçal has been experimenting with fusing classical and traditional Turkish music (170-180 different scales) with Western classical music or jazz ever since.

Although he did not appear on the international scene until the mid-'90s with the release of his two albums, Gypsy Rum and Sultan’s Secret Door, on the Network label in Frankfurt, Öçal was soon offered invitations to international festivals and work with legendary jazz musician Joe Zawinul as well as orchestral commissions for the Kronos Quartet.

Öçal comes to Chico accompanied by the Istanbul Oriental Orchestra, featuring some of the finest Turkish musicians playing the kanun (zither), the oud (lute), the keman (violin or fiddle) and the clarinet—with influences ranging from Klezmer, Oriental and Indian to modern violin music. You can expect some traditional Turkish singing in addition to powerful, breakneck speed instrumentals.

I only wish Hedo were still around to come to the party.