A musical journey into the cafe amans (taverns) of Istanbul, Smyrna and Thessaloniki where not only local musicians played regularly but those who travelled around met and improvised together hence creating an invaluable melting pot.

Cigdem Aslan – Voice
Martin Stokes – Kanun
Baha Yetkin – Oud
Ant Romero – Percussion

Çiğdem Aslan is an Istanbul-born singer who sings in many languages and regional styles, including Turkish, Kurdish, Greek, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Roma, and Ladino. Her musical journey started within the family in which music is one of the pivotal elements of the culture. She grew up with the rich sounds of her Kurdish Alevi culture and then gradually met with the other sounds of Istanbul and beyond.


Çiğdem has been performing and touring her solo albums ‘Mortissa’ (2013) and ‘A Thousand Cranes’ (2016) both released from Asphalt Tango Records.  The albums focus on Rebetiko and Smyrneiko songs from Asia Minor and Greece during 1920-1950s.


The albums received great reviews from all around the world; including the Guardian, NPR, Songlines, fRoots, Evening Standard, New York Music Daily, Huffington Post;  and entered the World Music Charts Europe from top ten and stayed there for months. Çiğdem was nominated and shortlisted in the ‘Best Artist’ and ‘Europe’ categories for Songlines Music Awards 2014 and 2017.


In 2014 Mortissa won the prestigious ”Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik/ German Record Critics Award” 


As well as her solo career Çiğdem is a member of She’koyokh “Britain’s best klezmer and Balkan music band” Songlines; and performs deep rooted Alevi-Bektasi songs of love and mysticism with Tahir Palali. 


Performance highlights:

Royal Albert Hall, London
Southbank Centre, London
Cadogan Hall, London
Barbican, London
Jazz Cafe, London
Concertgebouw, Amsterdam
Pergamon Museum, Berlin
Gasteig, Munich
Union Chapel, London
World on Three, BBC Radio 3
Loose Ends, BBC Radio 4
Cerys on 6, BBC Radio 6
Musicport Festival, Bridlington (UK)
Traumzeit Festival, Duisberg (DE)
Snape Proms, Aldeburgh (UK)
Warsaw Cultural Festival, Warsaw (PL)
Jewish Culture Festival, Krakow (PL)
Buskers’ Bern, Switzerland
Radio France, Paris
Libèration, France
Polish Radio, Warsaw (PL)
Mawazine Festival, Morocco
Les Nuits de Fourvière, Lyon (FR)
Førde Festivalen, Norway
TFF Rudolstadt, Germany
Palace of Arts, Budapest (HU)
Boğaziçi Üniversitesi, Istanbul (TR)
Globaltica Festival, Poland