Mustafa Ozkent

About Mustafa Ozkent

Turkish composer, arranger, and musician Mustafa Ozkent was a lesser-known but significant figure on the Ankara music scene until his music belatedly found a receptive audience in the West more than four decades into his career. Ozkent launched his career as a professional musician in 1960 as the leader of a Turkish pop group called the Teenagers (owing to the fact no one in the group was over the age of 19). A talented guitarist who was known to modify the design of his instruments to create unusual tonal qualities, Ozkent earned a reputation as a gifted maverick and by the dawn of the 1970s was in demand as a session player, arranger, and producer, creating music that fused psychedelic and pop/rock influences with R&B grooves and jazz-influenced improvisations. In 1972, Ozkent partnered with Evren Records, a Turkish label known for its high production standards and audiophile recording techniques; Ozkent booked time at one of Istanbul's finest recording facilities, and with a hand-picked team of musicians he began recording new material dominated by funky vamps, extended percussion jams, hard-grooving organ lines, and wah-wah guitars. The resultant LP, Genclikle Elele (Hand in Hand with Youth), sounded as if it were designed for hip-hop DJs in search of funky breaks, even though it was cut years before the nascent South Bronx scene began to flower (not to mention half a world away). In 2006, the musically omnivorous record collectors at the British Finders Keepers label reissued Ozkent's masterpiece, and it earned rave reviews in the U.K. as well as the United States. Meanwhile, Ozkent (who helped Finders Keepers with the reissue of Genclikle Elele) remains active in Turkey, releasing the album Dijital Guitar in 2005. ~ Mark Deming

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