The bond between the United States and the Republic of Turkey is typically viewed through the prism of the long-standing security alliance which is cemented in each nation’s membership in NATO. But a recent cross-cultural event held in Washington, DC, reveals that there is a fascinating layer to the relationship that pulses through the history of American society.
The Ertegun Jazz Series comprises concerts hosted by Ambassador Namik Tan at his palatial residence on Sheridan Circle in tribute to the Ertegun brothers, Ahmet and Nesuhi, sons of Mehmet Munir Ertegun, the second Turkish Ambassador to the U.S., who following their love for jazz eventually founded Atlantic Records in 1947.
Before establishing the renowned record label, the Ertegun brothers ingratiated themselves in the jazz scene in a segregated District of Columbia in the 1930s and 40s by hosting integrated jam sessions at their father’s residence that featured musical greats such as Benny Carter, Lester Young, and members of Duke Ellington’s band.
The jazz series, inaugurated in 2011 by Ambassador Tan, serves to unite cultures once again through music and underscore the historical significance the residence and its earlier occupants played in the history of American jazz. The May 2012 concert featured Jon Bastiste and the Stay Human Band and included among the dignitaries former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, former U.S. Senator Phil Gramm, and U.S. Representative John Conyers.
Photos by Steve Lutes.