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Ulab Sessions

U-Lab White Sessions: Elif and Paul Sánchez Project

Hailing from Turkey and Ecuador, music brought Elif Cakmut and Paul Sánchez together, and in love.
28 Feb 2017 – 2:37 PM EST

Paul Sánchez's hero is Quincy Jones, who started his music career as a trumpeter and went on to become one of the greatest music producers of all time. Last fall, Paul, a 25 year-old Ecuadorian trumpeter, got the opportunity to meet his idol at the Monterey Jazz Festival, which had a special tribute to Jones. "It inspired me to pursue what I really want to do: arrange," says Paul, who recently graduated from Berklee College of Music. "There's this other side of me as a writer but I've been so focused on the trumpet. Quincy told me to just follow my instinct, and that's what I'm trying to do."

That is why after his wife Elif Cakmut graduates from Berklee this May (she's finishing her performance and music business degree), the pair is contemplating moving from Boston to Los Angeles. And they are not wasting any time on pursuing their dreams and their love affair (sorry, La La Land). As part of U-LAB's White Sessions, the newlyweds decided to arrange and record original compositions together as the Elif and Paul Sánchez project for the very first time.


Elif and Paul both arrived to the United States - she from Turkey, he from Ecuador - to study at Berklee and met playing at a band (she plays the oboe). They became good friends, and around eight months later, Paul sent Elif a song he had composed to ask her opinion. "I loved the song so much, it's so beautiful," says 23 year-old Elif, who studied classical music in her native Instanbul. "Way afterwards he told me he wrote it thinking of me." Two years ago, the song, ‘A través de tus ojos’, first made the friends become closer. And last October, the pair got married. "I never thought in the future we would be together and we would marry" says Elif. "It’s not like 'now, wow, I'm in love with him', I started to think completely different about him after that moment."

Elif and Paul worked hard on a new arrangement of 'A través de tus ojos' as a duo for oboe and trumpet especially for U-LAB. "We spent weeks thinking how to do it," says Paul. "Oboe and trumpet is not that common of a combination." The pair is excited to play together and mix up their influences - Mediterranean music, jazz, classical, and their personal stories, into their budding musical project.

"Oboe has a beautiful melody, and people always think it has to play classical pieces, I'm trying to change the idea of oboe a little," says Elif about their Elif and Paul Sánchez Project, which they're envisioning as a quintent with piano, bass and drums.

After getting married in a civil ceremony in Boston, Elif and Paul hope to celebrate their union with their family and friends in Turkey next summer. Even though their parents don't speak English or each other's languages, both families are very musical. In fact, Paul was surprised that in Turkey boleros and baladas such as 'Quizás, quizás, quizás', 'Historia de un amor' and 'Bésame mucho' are well-known and some even translated into Turkish. Music does trascend borders. "Most of the time we think, Ecuadorian music, Turkish music, Chinese music, it's all so different, right?", says Paul. "But once you go there, you realize it's not. There's some point of unification."

Below we present to you two songs we recorded with Elif and Paul Sánchez as part of U-LAB's White Sessions, recorded live and in one take in Boston.

'A través de tus ojos' (White Sessions)

Paul wrote this song thinking of Elif. He recorded it and sent to her to see what she thought about it "I loved the song so much, it's so beautiful," says Elif. "Way afterwards he told me he wrote it thinking of me." Paul originally recorded with a quintent. For U-LAB's White Sessions, the couple made a special arrangement for oboe and trumpet duo.

'Había una vez' (White Sessions)


This song was written by Paul and Elif during a summer they were separated for a month before reuniting in Turkey and then in Ecuador to meet each other's families for the first time. The track was then finished back in Boston, and tells that journey throughout. "The second part of the song is more a little insane, represents the time we were separated," says Elif. "The last part of the song has the most beautiful melody - we were reunited".


Hear more about Elif and Paul and their immigration experience in America as musicians

Next week, we'll present the next White Sessions artist, Tali Rubinstein.

RELACIONADOS:Ulab SessionsFlamencoUforia Music

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