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New York, NY

Artist Bio

Sarpay Özçağatay

Sarpay “SharpEye” is a New York City based flutist, composer and educator among leading international artists of recent years. In addition to frequent performances in the NYC jazz circuit including Blue Note, ShapeShifter Lab, Somethin’ Jazz, Smoke and Zinc, SharpEye has performed countless concerts, festivals and recordings with Grammy Award winning artists and internationally acclaimed musicians. Legends include Ron Carter, Kevin Eubanks, George Garzone, David Fiuczynski, Terri Lyne Carrington, Eric Gould, Greg Osby, Steve Turre, Ed Tomassi and more.

In 2013, SharpEye released his debut album “Unexpectable” which features his own original compositions. It has been recognized and reviewed by the leading jazz critics, blogs and jazz media including the international online stations, newspapers and magazines. As a member of the world’s largest and most prestigious flute association (National Flute Association), SharpEye has been on the panel as a judge for jazz competitions and has given clinics and workshops at the annual convention.


Artist Interview

Sarpay Özçağatay

We had the opportunity to ask Sarpay a few questions. Check out his thoughts on improvising and his typical practice routine, as well as advice for upcoming flutists.


1.  Why did you choose to play the flute?

Since I was born, music has been part of my entire life. I remember being a small child with a toy electronic digital keyboard, trying to play songs I heard from the radio on it. When I started elementary school, I started playing recorder like everybody else. Sometimes a flute player joined the music classes and played for us, which was the first time I experienced the flute and became interested in the instrument.

Eventually, my father who is not a musician but a very good listener, realized that music was something special for me and asked me if I would like to study at the conservatory. He is a dentist and had a patient who had a daughter studying at the conservatory. My father took me to her to see if I had ability for music. After a testing process, she told my father that I had a strong ability and should definitely study music. That moment was the turning point.

After elementary school, I entered auditions for the Hacettepe University State Conservatory. I studied middle school, high school and my BA degree in a major of classical performance there. I was successful and finished by undergraduate degree from university in 3 years.

2. How would you recommend someone wanting to learn how to improvise when all that is offered in their school is classical music programs?

To me, improvising is simply expressing yourself in another way instead of talking. You just talk by using the musical notes through your instrument.  Remember how you learned to speak? Did you practice the same way we approach classical music? I am sure the answer is “no.” This is how I describe improvising. You just speak. Basically, you hear whoever else is “talking” around you and begin imitating what you hear until you grow up and learn to express your own way to speak. I guess it is a way of learning that is not so straightforward as preparing standard flute repertoire.

3. What musician/artist has influenced you the most?

When I was around 14-15 I started listening to Dave Valentine. He is one of the biggest influences for me. His music made my heart beat very fast. Then I heard Steve Kujala, Joe Farrell, Frank Wess, James Moody and of course Hubert Laws. During high school and university I was trying to

speak as they did. At some point I stopped listening to the flute players and got more interested in piano players, bass players, saxophonists, trumpeters and drummers. This gave me a lot of new ideas to speak in different ways on flute. You should definitely try to speak as a piano does or a trumpet does. You will see how joyful it is! Listening to the well-known players will give you a lot of perspective; however, you should definitely try to find out your own voice after a while.

4. What does a typical practice routine look like for you?

Since my practice routine comes from classical discipline, I still use the techniques from it; however, I generated a lot of exercises for jazz purposes. I usually practice 5-6 hours a day. I play to keep everything stable and I really enjoy it.
I usually practice scales, arpeggios, and triads in a lot of different shapes and try to have a different routine every day instead of practicing the same things day after day. I also transcribe to learn how to speak fluently. I highly recommend that any player should have a different practicing schedule for each day to keep things fresh and improve.

5.  What does a typical day look like for you?

Breakfast is a must for me. I never begin my day without a good breakfast! Then, I take my time for a while and begin practicing. Afterwards, I go for a run or a long walk around the city. Walking is meditation for me. I put some music in my music player and walk for 2-3 hours, spend time with my friends when I have time and of course playing gigs. I try to go jam sessions as much I can.

6. Who are the most played artists on your ipod?

Keith Jarrett, Brad Mehldau, Aaron Goldberg, Lee Konitz, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Adam Rogers, Chris Potter, Eric Harland, Mark Turner, Freddie Hubbard, and many more.   Electronic music, Jamiroquai and new generation musicians from the jazz or funk world.  

7.  Do you have any new projects in the works?

My own band “SharpEye Project” is performing my debut album “Unexpectable” in the NYC area (If you would like to get the album, you can find it at (, I am also working as a collaborative musician with a number of jazz albums and bands. This year, I recorded a couple of contemporary jazz albums that are going to be released very soon.  I also formed a new world music quartet. We will be playing Portuguese, Turkish, and Lebanese music as well as some cover music in our own style. I also play with a rock- jazz band that has been performing in the city. I recently joined a gypsy jazz band and it is very fun to play gypsy jazz music with such amazing musicians! We are currently playing at the well-known venues in NYC and planning to play even more.

8. What are your interests/hobbies outside of music?

I love an English billiard game called “Snooker”, table tennis. I used to be a licensed swimmer in middle school so swimming is fun for me. I try to listen to music as much as possible and read a little bit.  I also admit I enjoy video games, sightseeing and cooking.

9. How did you come to choose Miyazawa as your flute of choice?

Before choosing the brand of a flute, I always try to play and feel if the instrument makes me comfortable as well as responding to me. After a long search process, I met my Miyazawa. Even though there are many great flutes, this “lady” made me so comfortable and calm. Now I am just addicted to my instrument!  I would like to take this opportunity to thank you again for creating one of the most amazing instruments in the flute world.

10. If you had one piece of advice to give an upcoming flutist, what would you tell them?

No matter what you do, just love it! No love, no peace!



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