RNCM Studio Theatre, 5 October 2014
This was the penultimate date of a short tour by a captivating singer who has been described as ‘the new voice of the Aegean Blues’.
While such epithets are generally difficult to live up to, Cigdem Aslan and her band, if anything, surpassed expectations. The concert was plastered top to end with melancholy songs and soulful melodies; the violin soared and the drums and kanun elaborately meandered beside it. A bass kept pace.
Cigdem Aslan sings rebetiko, a sort of music that arose in Greece and Turkey in the 1920s, and to my naive ears it sounded very much like klezmer: a mix of Arabic and East European influences. Or maybe Arabic music came to Eastern Europe via the Ottoman Empire and was transformed and returned. Anyway, the myriad Kurdish, Turkish and Greek songs hit home, winged their way heartwards.
Çiğdem Aslan is a singer and rebetiko a kind of music that’s well worth exploring further. And I note from her website (here) that she also plays in a klezmer band.