Sanem Kalfa / Teis Semey

showcase at Jazz I Am Barcelona
Music from the hot boiling volcano

Sanem Kalfa and Teis Semey are two respected improvisers on the Dutch jazz scene. Last year Teis, originally from Denmark, was Artist In Focus at North Sea Round Town, one of the most diverse and creative festivals in The Netherlands. This year, Sanem has the honour of being their Artist In Focus. It seemed almost inevitable that they form a duo, showing different sides of their musicality, drawing inspiration from Scandinavian and Turkish folk music, avant-garde jazz and soft dreampop.

Jazz I Am is not the first occasion for collaboration, but as a duo you have not performed often. What can we expect of you during this relatively short showcase gig? It means tough choices, I guess.
Sanem: “Indeed, this is going to be our third performance together. Short showcases are challenging and exciting. We have quite diverse songs, lots of mood changes, lots of colours. We will do our best to give the best juice from all to the audience.”
Teis: “Yeah, it’s definitely a fun challenge to construct a set for such a specific setting. Even though Jazz I Am is our third performance, we have been in each other’s musical world for a while, so it feels very natural to develop that world together.”

Does it matter whether you are in Spain or in Belgium or in Rotterdam when you perform?
Sanem: “It is all exciting!”
Teis: “Second that. All good fun, we love playing for anyone who will listen.”

What determines the Dutch jazz scene of 2023 for you?
Sanem: “This is the time I think I’m meeting new musicians the most, compared to previous years. There are some very creative, strong personalities with fresh ideas, I find it quite inspiring. Also I see lots of collaborations between older and younger generations of improvisers, leading to a great variety of creations.”
Teis: “The Dutch jazz scene really is just a hot boiling volcano these days. There are so many things happening all over. I think the key factor is a strong sense of community in the scene, which helps us support each other. And the level is really high, so my colleagues and friends keep inspiring me to push further and harder. I feel a strong sense of direction and purpose, both from the industry, the venues and the musicians alike.”
Sanem: “I’m still working on curating my programme for North Sea Round Town, but I can say that I will bring a few very diverse projects to Rotterdam, including some with great improvisers from the Dutch improv scene.”

Can you both name an artist or an album or a musical piece that has influenced the music you are making nowadays?
Sanem: “When we meet lots of times we end up listening to Bach.”
Teis: “Hmm… I have listened a lot to Dorival Caymmi lately. Canções Praieiras is a work of unbelievable beauty.”

For an extensive portrait of Sanem Kalfa as Artist in Focus for North Sea Round Town 2023 go here.