Heidi Trautmann

48 - Young Jazz/Soul Band in North Cyprus "Carpe Diem"

I remember my very young days when we used to go to live Jazz and Dixie sessions in famous Schwabing in Munich, the quarter behind the universities, the quarter where young and old students lived in cafés, at least it looked like it, where the artists hung up their art work on washing lines, painted on sidewalks, read poetry, played music and theatre in the streets. Schwabing where I went to school, where the art cinemas were and the small pubs where young musicians got the chance to play for an attentive audience, for jazz lovers, often with jam sessions when well known musicians came to see young groups.

We then sat on the floor in front of the stage, the room full of smoke, sharing one beer among four. Great live music with much enthusiasm on both sides.


Exactly this feeling came over me when for the first time I heard the young soul and jazz band Carpe Diem play one evening in Nicosia on the occasion of EMAA’s Solidarity Night on July 8 (see my report under Art News on my website) entering the evening with Dave Brubeck’s Take Five.

I could have jumped up with the younger guests dancing to the tunes of the 50/60’s such as Aretha Franklin, Helen Shapiro, Nancy Sinatra and Cher as well as today's soul singers such as Eva Cassidy, Duffy and Amy Winehouse. (Not only young ones got itching feet, I saw Steve Bosworth feeling young again).

I knew the electric guitar player, lovely and petite Nilay Dervish whom I had met in totally different functions, as a translation editor of my book “Art and Creativity in North Cyprus” and during day time as senior project assistant at the EU RDSP Programme Management Unit.  It proves again that there are two souls in one person, I hardly recognized her, seeing her play the guitar in just the way accustomed jazz players do it. Wow! “I come from classical guitar, I took the Royal School of Music exams during our early youth,” she said.


I had not expected to find a true soul and jazz band in this country, playing so well, so I asked her to tell me more about her band members.  


“We are currently playing the renditions of the 50's/60's soul singers such as you were hearing today. But, we are also doing rock 'n' roll and a couple of rock covers.”

For reasons of order I mention the band members as a block first: 


Lead singer - Meliz Kuset

Guitar - Nilay Dervish

Keyboard - Erhan Özberkman

Bass guitar - Başak Çakmak

Drums - Ulaş Öğüç


Nilay continues: “Carpe Diem was established this year in spring. The keyboardist Erhan and I were band mates in our rock band Strange Brew. Strange Brew disbanded in 2007 because I had to go the UK for my masters in translation. When I was back in Cyprus, Erhan and I started having jam sessions again and Başak, the bass guitarist joined us, with whom we did a couple of uni festivals together in 2007. Later, we got Meliz on board after a long hard search for a female singer who would meet our needs. The idea was to have a strong front lady who could sing our favourite soul tunes with all her heart. And now it seems to us that she is the best! She also brought along Ulas, our drummer.

All of the band members have been engaged in music for a long time. Well, except for Ulaş, who is our youngest - he is only 17! He is such a great talent...

Erhan and Meliz started with classical piano, they also took the Royal School of Music exams in their early youth. Then we took different routes and played in various bands. Basak had a brief tutoring in rock music but he is a self-taught musician, just like Ulaş.


Currently, Ulaş is continuing his college education; both Erhan and Başak are managing their family businesses. Meliz is a science teacher.

At the moment we are not having regular gigs but we hope we will soon.

We thought it would be a better idea to have a record first, so we are just getting prepared to  get into a studio and make a record of our own. We also want to do our own songs but that is something that we'll embark on in the future. We still need a bit of time to be able to fuse our individual inspirations and create harmonious syntheses out of our solitary quests.”  


I am not a music critic but I know when my heart starts pumping and my limbs decide to find their own rhythm, then it is my kind of music, and above that extremely well played. I strongly suggested to Nilay to keep on to the singer Meliz, what a talent, what a voice! I am sure that we will hear more of them.


Let me know if you want to know more!

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