Music with and for wide open ears"
Swedish Daily News
"a master player of the Turkish Saz"
Tom Cheney, Billboard magazine
"a thoroughly professionnal saz master"
Turkish "Nokta" newspaper
" Nyofu has made Turkish folklore his own to an astonishing degree"
Turkish "Hurriyet" newspaper
"the best concert I've been to in a long time"
Eldorado Concert Reviews, Swedish Radio
Born in Los Angeles, of African American-Indian-Danish-Lebanese heritage, Nyofu was raised in a musical environment. His father played jazz piano and was an avid listener of many styles of music. Nyofu began playing upright bass as a teenager, starting with local jazz and salsa groups. After studying classical bass, composition and North Indian Ragas at California Institute of the Arts, he traveled to Europe with the intention of going to India to pursue his interest in yoga and Indian music.
Arriving in Turkey for a "short-stay-on-the-way" he quickly made friends with musicians there and was offered a job accompanying a popular folk singer. It was then that he came in contact with the saz, the long necked lute that is the national instrument of Turkey. It was pretty much love at first sound and he began learning the basics by watching the lead saz player (an ex-guitarist who blended guitar techniques with traditional ones) and practicing on his own. He would eventually settle in Sweden, where there was both a vibrant Turkish musical community and an eclectic multicultural scene as well. There, he worked with Turkish drummer Okay Temiz, saz player/singer/ composer Zulfu Livaneli and ney master/ multi instrumentalist Ahmet "Hadji" Tekbilek, all major names in Turkish music. He has toured all over Europe with these artists, leading his own groups in between, playing clubs, festivals, and numerous radio and TV broadcasts, while continuing to visit Turkey periodically. A familiar face in the Turkish music world, Nyofu, who speaks the language fluently, has gained recognition there for his translations into English of popular Turkish folk minstrels and original, yet authentic saz playing.
Nyofu returned to the USA in 1994, where he has collaborated most recently with John Bilezikjian and Omar Faruk Tekbilek. 3 Worlds Music is the fruition of a longtime vision shared with his brother Mark Tyson and friend, musician and multi media master Josef Blocker.
Nyofu has 2 CD's available on # Worlds Music, "Timeless Songs- Turkish Minstrels and Mystics From 13th Century to Present"; and "La Guitarra Turca"- original work blending Mideast, Latin and Jazz in an instrumental vocal mix.
The baglama is a long necked lute made of mulberry and pine, which was brought west from its original home in Central Asia by Turkic nomads, who eventually settled in what is now Turkey. It is commonly known as saz, which means instrument in Turkish. Sazes are made in five primary sizes; starting from the largest, divan, baglama, dambura, bozuk (short neck dambura), and cura. The primary and lead saz played by Nyofu is dambura, with short neck and cura accompaniment on some songs.
The saz is traditionally used to accompany the songs and tales of the bards, known as ashiks, Turkish for "in love". It is only in the last generation that the saz is coming out on its own as an instrument capable of an expanded repertoire. Among the most influential names in this development are: Arif Sag, Talip Ozkan, Orhan Gencebay, and Zulfu Livaneli. Ashik Veysel and Ruhi Su were also very important, not for creating new styles, but for repopularizing the old during the folklore revival of the '70s.
Yunus Emre lived in the late 13th Century. He was a Sufi mystic, and said to have been a disciple or the renowned Persian mystic Rumi. Yunus Emre was the first Sufi poet to write in Turkish instead of Persian. Not only that, he wrote his poetry in the language of the common people. In his poetry, the divine love is expressed in very human, down to earth terms. The Turks are fond of calling him the first humanist.
Pir Sultan Abdal lived in the 17th century. He was poet and "sheik", or spiritual leader. He belonged to the nomadic Alevi tribe, which, during his lifetime was in constant revolt against the Ottomans. His poems are often lamenting, sometimes of martyrdom, but sometimes also humorous.
Ashik Veysel was born in a village close to Sivas in 1894. His mother gave birth to him on the way to milk the sheep. At the age of seven, he became blind in one eye as a result of illness, and shortly thereafter, lost his other eye in an accident. His father was interested in folk traditions, and their home was often visited by ashiks. Noticing young Veysels keen interest, his father got him a saz and taught him folk poetry. He was married at 25, but, after the infant death of their second child, his wife disappeared. He remarried and had seven more kids. He taught saz and folkpoetry for many years, and it was not until his forties that his own work began to take form. His reputation spread slowly, and his fame reached its peak at the dawn of the seventies. He passed away in 1973, his place secure among the greats of Turkish poetry.
Zulfu Livaneli started out as a journalist and publisher, playing saz as a hobby. After recording an album of traditional folksongs with "protest" messages, he left Turkey during the political turmoil of the mid seventies and sought asylum in Europe, settling in Sweden. As his recording reached legendary status, even being banned by the military government, he developed his craft, listening to western pop, and setting his own melodies to contemporary Turkish poets. When democracy was reestablished in Turkey, he returned, and recorded an album of his own compositions with pop rhythm section and orchestral arrangements, which catapulted him to major stardom. Alongside his music, he has directed several films, is a popular newspaper columnist, and currently has a position in UNESCO.