The Turkish-born electric bassist-composer has been freelancing around New York since arriving in town in December 2000. For his debut as a leader he is joined by some of his colleagues on the alternative-jazz scene, including saxophonists Michael McGinnis, Nick Kadajski and David Binney, pianist Jon Davis and Turkish drummer Volkan Öktem. Yilmaz’s music is busy and intelligent in a post-Steve Coleman sense, involving intricate, twisting harmonies on the frontline between soprano and alto saxophone with the bassist holding down the fort with minimalist, grooving ostinatos. This formula, which allows for considerable stretching from the soloists, plays out nicely on an adventurous piece like “KuKe.” Yilmaz incorporates some of his Turkish folk roots on the tricky “XX,” which shifts seamlessly from 6/8 to 7/8 and also features the bassist stretching out on a virtuosic Jaco-ish solo against Matthias Bublath’s Fender Rhodes comping and Oktem’s agile drumming. The composer employs dissonance, wordless vocals and a mysterious Middle Eastern vibe to good effect on the rubato title track, which also features expressive, gale-force blowing from alto saxophonist Binney and probing clarinet work from McGinnis. “Junk Mail” is a bit of in-the-pocket funk-jazz powered by Andy Sanesi’s solid backbeats and Yilmaz’s slap basslines and featuring some urgent alto blowing from Binney.
On the edgy “Oddity,” the bassist expertly juggles odd meters while grooving heavily underneath, and he reveals a lyrical side on his gentle chordal showcase “Ninni” and also on the affecting ballad “Spring Breeze.” And the evocative closer, “Landscapes,” finds Yilmaz overdubbing multiple bass tracks and dealing with experimental looping effects, culminating this highly rewarding debut in creative fashion.