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Burhan Öçal / A Musical Homecoming

Öçal has spent the last 20 odd years far away from his hometown Kirklareli in Eastern Thrace. He always wanted to become a drummer. His childhood dream became true in Switzerland. Starting his musical career in festivities organized by Turkish migrant workers, Öçal quickly built a respectable reputation in the European jazz and world music scenes through his work in combos which he formed himself and his contribution as a percussionist in other musical projects. He has worked together with jazz musicians like Joe Zawinul and Djamaladdin Takuma, with the classical-avant-garde formation Kronos Quartet and with Sting. 

Öçal also dreamt of putting together “fine instruments” (an ethnical formation in Thrace consisting of a violin, kanun, djumbush and darbuka), the loud oboe “zurna” and the drum “davul” and instruments like accordion and trumpet, which a play a major role in the music of the Balkans, mixing these instruments with modern elements and presenting such a crossover to audiences worldwide. 

This is exactly what Burhan Öçal and Trakya All Stars is all about. The Troja Medien team and director Nedim Hazar document the project right from the beginning in the film “A Musical Homecoming” and discover for example, that like all the Roma living in Kirklareli, the musicians involved in Trakya All Stars and their families originate from Thessalonica and have migrated to Turkey in the 1950’s. Almost all the repertory of the group is songs and dances from the Thessalonica region. 

The members of Trakya All Stars, very talented musicians like Ahmet from Saray, Savaş from Çorlu, Saffet from Soma, experience the surprise of their lives in the MIAM studio of the Technical University of Istanbul, one of the best studios in Turkey, when they hear their music and rhythms being played back as “loops” coming from electronic instruments operated by Smadj, a French-Algerian musician and producer with Jewish roots. Furthermore, a new musician joins the group, a guitar player from North India, the place where the Roma actually originate from.


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