Trombonist Altin Sencalar weaves together a multi-faceted tapestry of different worlds seamlessly combined with 'Reconnected'

Article Contributed by Outside in Music | Published on Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Trombonist, composer, and bandleader Altin Sencalar is no stranger to the studio. With “crystal clear articulations and impressive control of the wide possibilities of the instrument” that “provides a brilliance in his sound” (International Trombone Association Journal), it is no surprise that Altin has recorded on over 20 albums, including 3 as a bandleader. Stepping into the recording booth once again, Altin brings forth a project both bold and deeply personal as he musically merges the two distinct cultures that define his identity.

Altin Sencalar, whose familial name aptly translates to “entertainer,” is a musician born into Mexican and Turkish cultures. Leaning heavily into elements from both sides of his unique heritage, Altin’s music finds a holistic synergy as he tastefully tailors Afro-Latin, Turkish, and Jazz musical traditions to create a sound both fresh and new to his listeners, and true to his diverse heritage.

Reconnected is Altin’s third album as a bandleader, and is dedicated to his two grandfathers: John Fernando Garcia, who passed away in December 2020, and his Turkish grandfather, Bülent Şençalar, who still resides in Turkey as a renowned musician. The influence of these individuals, their cultures, and their music on Altin has been substantial, to which Reconnected stands as a testament.

Reconnected features a carefully orchestrated chordless trio highlighting trombone as the lead voice. Furthermore, each part is carefully written with the specific musicians and their respective personalities in mind in a way that speaks life into the sounds and emotions created by the group. For this album’s distinctive style, Altin composed with the relationship between music and dance in mind. “This style is greatly influenced by salsa music,” Altin tells. Additionally, the compositions on Reconnected draw on bebop and hard bop tradition, and utilize motifs drawn directly from the music of his Turkish grandfather.

The track “Reconnected” is based upon a solo performance played by Bülent Şençalar, elements of which were transcribed by Altin and combined to create a unique amalgam of salsa, Turkish, and jazz music. “Desnudo,” the third track, is an original composition by Altin dedicated to his late grandfather, John Fernando Garcia. “At his funeral,” Altin recalls, “an accordion player performed a version of “Un Puna de Tierra,” which translates to a “A Fistful of Dirt,” which symbolizes what we leave with when life is over.” Inspired by emotion and the ideas of “Un Puna de Tierra,” Altin composed “Desnudo,” which translates to “naked,” “uncovered,” “bare,” or “minimal.” This piece has three central elements: a continuous bassline that carries throughout the melodies, a similarly consistent drum pattern, and “the most fundamental form of music - the blues.” The minimalist approach present in this song is a direct way Altin chooses to pay honor to his grandfather. “Tenderly'' stands in contrast to the other tracks on this album due to its variation in instrumentation: instead of trombone, Altin performs this piece on euphonium. “Euphonium was my first instrument,” Altin explains. “I’ve always loved euphonium and have continued to play it into my professional years.” This track is a bolero, a slower, emotive dance form often associated with ballads, and the beauty and care presented within “Tenderly'' makes plain the reason for this stylistic choice.

Daniel Dufour, the drummer on Reconnected, has worked alongside Altin for many years and above all, Altin admires his musical intuition. “Daniel Dufour has the intuition… that is not only desired, but is needed in music. He can transform a groove or style into something enjoyable, organic, and singable.” Bassist Utah Hamrick is described by Altin as a musician with phenomenal technical prowess and the ability to adjust his tone to blend and fill up the sonic environment. “Utah has serious facility on the instrument,” Altin says. “I could write any line and he could nail it with ease.” In addition to Altin’s trio, Reconnected features two guest artists: celebrated saxophonist Roxy Coss and three-time GRAMMY winner, trumpeter Pete Rodriguez. Of Roxy, Altin has nothing but exalting words to say, acknowledging her well-earned “all-star” status in the jazz world. “She is someone I admire as she is a [household] name in the jazz world,” Altin says. “I am so happy she recorded on this record.” Pete has been a long-term mentor to Altin, and someone without whom Altin’s musical journey would not be the same. “To be able to incorporate [Pete] into my CD is a full-circle experience,” Altin tells, “as Pete is the person who gave me my first gig as a leader at the Brass House in Austin, Texas when I was 18 years old.”

With Reconnected, Altin has done more than create tasteful cultural fusion; he has intertwined a musical bridge between two seemingly disparate musical cultures and in so doing created for himself a firm identity that honors the past, embraces the present, and looks with hope towards an ebullient future. With a determined brilliance rooted in jazz and the strength of familial ties, Reconnected resounds with a powerful cry to the ears and hearts of its listeners.

Reconnected releases on Next Level, an imprint of Outside in Music on August 27th, 2021.

About Altin Sencalar:

Heralded as one of the “21st century prodigy grandchildren of Jay and Kai” (Stereophile Magazine), Altin Sencalar is a trombonist, composer, educator, and bandleader from Austin, TX whose multifaceted cultural heritage of Mexican and Turkish roots has influenced his unique and critically acclaimed style.

Altin received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Texas at Austin and his Master of Music from Michigan State University. As a performer, Altin has received multiple grants, accolades, and awards in competitions such as the J.J. Johnson Competition, the Kai Winding Trombone Ensemble Competition, Downbeat Student Music Awards, UNT/BAC International Jazz Trombone Day Solo Competition, and was named as a 2017 Yamaha Young Performing

Artist, among others. As a sideman, Altin has worked with jazz and wider music icons including DeeDee Bridgewater, Teri Lynn Carrington, Christian McBride, Wayne Bergeron, Rodney Whitaker, The Temptations, Ne-Yo, and Joe Jonas, among others.

Altin is currently on faculty at the University of Mary Hardin Baylor as the Adjunct Professor of Music, where he works as the Director of Jazz Ensembles and the Applied Trombone Instructor.

NEXTLEVEL is an imprint of Outside in Music, dedicated to early career and first-time bandleaders seeking to make an impact on the music. OUTSIDE IN MUSIC is a record label and media company that exists to serve musicians. We are a community that strives to lift its artists above the noise of the 21st-century music industry and make music that expresses the sounds of today's wide-ranging jazz and creative music scene.