Durul Gence is a pioneer in the music scene of Turkey: In addition to his musicianship epitomized by his performer, arranger, accompanier, conductor identities, Gence has also contributed tremendously to music with his career as an educator. He is at the foundations of jazz, rock’n’roll and pop music. He is among the founders of Turkey’s first rock’n’roll band, Deniz Harp Okulu Orkestrası in 1955. That is actually the year rock’n’roll started to storm the world.

Durul Gence contributed to almost all of the early recordings with the band he founded, Durul Gence 5. He recorded his own albums while acconpanying to other singers of the period, such as Ajda Pekkan, Berkant, Ertan Anapa, and Özdemir Erdoğan. Numerous bands exist in Gence’s music career: Sweaters, founded by TED students; Sextet SSS; Arkadaşlar which accompanied Alpay; Black Points, which he founded in Germany... He worked with influential musicians ranging from Onno Tunç to Şerif Yüzbaşıoğlu, Erol Duygulu to Cezmi Başeğmez.

Gence gave his first jazz emissions with Nejat Cendeli (piano), Melih Gürel (French horn), Metin Gürel (flute) and Selçuk Sun (double bass). Things took another turn when Durul Gence 5 “prospered” and evolved into Durul Gence 10. Their performances of Emin Fındıkoğlu’s arrangements might be the period’s best! Their live album, as well as their singles are still not transcended. Among these is Şeyh Şamil: It is Durul Gence’s trademark, a late Anatolian pop classic, the acme of “local jazz” and a course on how an arrangement should be. The jazz band Asia Minor Mission which he founded in the late 1970s and the Istanbul Ekspres album he recorded with Mehmet Ozan in Denmark in 1979 should be cited as well.

Gence’s real contribution to jazz are the youth he has been raising for years. The jazz history courses he taught at METU and Hacettepe expanded new horizons for many students especially in the 90s. I was among those who sneaked in and hid in a corner to listen to Durul Gence’s packed lectures at METU. These lectures set not only the basis for my “conscious” ear, but also my career as a music writer.

Presented with the festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Durul Gence is among those who fully deserve it. Our duty is to stand up and applause.

– Murat Meriç