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Stream Tracks From To What Strange Place: The Music Of The Ottoman-American Diaspora, 1916–1929

August 2011

Check three tracks and accompanying notes from the Tompkins Square triple CD release.

To What Strange Place: The Music Of The Ottoman-American Diaspora 1916–1929 is reviewed by Marcus Boon in The Wire 330 and is out on Tompkins Square. The compilation, track restoration and extensive liner notes are by Ian Nagoski.

Karekin Proodian
"Chinary Yares Aghchg"

from Disc One: Naughty Girl – Dances & Joys

Among the most prolific performers of Armenian-Turkish folk music of the 10s and 20s, oudist and singer Karekin Proodian (b. December, 1884) arrived in the US at the age of 10 with his mother to join his father in Worcester, Massachusetts. They had last lived in Samsun along the coast on the Black Sea. He recorded 20 sides in Turkish in 1916, including several with Kemany Minas. When M.G. Parsekian founded his label in New Jersey around 1920, Proodian was the first record for it, releasing 20 sides, all in Armenian and several composed by Hovsep Shamlian. On this one from his Parsekian sessions, a girl from Chinari (present-day eastern Armenia near the Azerbaijani border) is compared to a poplar tree.

Achilleas Poulos
"Nedem Geldem Amerikaya"

from Disc Two: I Wish I Never Came: Nostalgia, Yearning & Pride

Poulos recorded “Why I Came To America” at least twice in the 20s. This performance with Nishan Sedefjian on violin and unknown clarinet and kanun players (possibly Garbis Bakirgian) was made in 1926. The lyrics refer to the coastal town of Bandirma in northwest Anatolia on the Sea of Marmara, near Poulos’ native home:

Why I came to America
I wandered over here
Now, I regret it a thousand times over
But too late, ah, it can’t be helped
Ah, I wish I had never gone
Ah, I wish I had never seen
Darling you, America
I wish I had never seen, never come
Bandırma’s winter sea
Ships in rows
Cruel! Don’t you have justice?
Why did you aggrieve us?
Ah, I wish I had never broken away
Ah, I wish I had never crossed over
Darling you, Bandırma
I wish I had never broken away, never gone.

Hafiz Saadeddin Kaynak
"Rast Gazel, Faryadi Figan"

from Disc Three: Notes From Home: U.S. Releases For Ottoman Emigres

Born 1895 in Constantinople, Saadeddin Kaynak was a “theology officer,” a lecturer on religion in the Ottoman military around 1912 in the central Anatolia regions of Harput, Diyarbakir, Malata, etc. (where millions of Armenians and Assyrians were oppressed and died or fled for their lives not long after). He had begun recording by 1926 and released more than 200 performances on disc during his career. The title of this one, recorded in the mid-20s, is “Wailing, Moaning.” He died in 1961.

Also, watch a 'trailer' for the album, including interview excerpts with Ian Nagoski who curated the release.

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