Ergüven Başaran, who actively continues his 55 years of professional music career which he started in 1961, is a prominent behind-the-scenes figure in our country’s jazz and pop music history.
Başaran, who was the irreplaceable sax player for pop divas of the 1970s such as Ajda Pekkan, Nil Burak, and Nazan Şoray, has also worked with the famous arranger of the time, Osman İşmen. He made his start in music by taking clarinet lessons from Tevfik Çelen and Salih Durutaş, alto saxophone lessons from Celal Bozsay, and harmony lessons from Şerif Yüzbaşıoğlu.
In 1963, he started playing with the Kadri Ünalan Orchestra which led to his tenures as a saxophone player with various orchestras that were highly instrumental in western style pop music taking root in Turkey, such as Çetin İnöntepe, Selim Özer, Aydemir Mete, Mete Duruman, and Süheyl Denizci, resulting in countless concerts at the most prestigious clubs across the country.
Başaran was faced with making a decision that could mark a turning point in his life in 1974; an opportunity to go to Sweden with Emin Fındıkoğlu. However, around the exact same time, he heard that the Istanbul Municipal Theatre Orchestra was looking for a saxophone player. Instead of embarking on an adventure abroad full of unknowns, he decided to enter the exams and ended up being the first placed applicant by receiving full marks from the jury panel.
For many years, he was a part of the Eurovision Orchestra established by the public network TRT in 1975. He also started playing with the TRT Radio and Jazz Orchestra under Ümit Aksu.
He was a part of the 69-piece orchestra which took the stage at the inaugural International Music Festival in 1976, where he met Arif Mardin, who encouraged him praising his baritone saxophone playing skill by likening it to that of an African American player.
Between 1982 and 2002, he worked with TRT Istanbul Big Band which was founded by Süheyl Denizci. In 1993, along with İmer Demirer and Neşet Ruacan, he was a part of the Turkey-Poland Mixed Jazz Orchestra. He played as a guest musician with the Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra between 1980 and 1999.
In 2003, he accepted an offer from the Istanbul State Opera and Ballet and played for Kiss Me Kate and West Side Story.
He was the founder of Istanbul Saxophone Quartet, the first group of its kind in Turkey. He performed at various Istanbul Jazz Festival events such as Jazz Boat and Tünel Feast with Istanbul Saxophone Quartet and his latest project Swing UNLTD.
Ergüven Başaran continues to perform with Swing UNLTD which he founded in 2013. In addition to Başaran on the saxophone, the collective features Şenova Ülker on trumpet, Nejat Dayıoğlu on trombone, Elvan Aracı on piano, Nezih Yeşilnil on contrabass, and Veysel Çadır on drums.
Başaran will be presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Award Ceremony which will take place at Austria Culture Office on July 11 as a part of the 23rd Istanbul Jazz Festival. Following the ceremony, Ergüven Başaran and Swing UNLTD will perform swing classics.