Barbaros Erköse - North American Tour

...Breakneck improvisations and rhythms that bounce across the dance floor...

New York Times, March 17, 2000

"Lingo Lingo"
A Review

Let’s face it, the art of rocking out most righteously didn’t begin with three-chord guitar tunes. Virtuosi like Turkish clarinet king Barbaros Erköse can stir the soul with just a single hand drummer for backing. Such is the evocative power of the magical loop-de-loops of melody and rhythm that form the basis of his contemporary urban Gypsy music. And when Serdar Karacay joins in on oud (or Arabic lute), the power of Erköse’s sinuous reed-work increases several fold…Give Erköse and his ensemble a chance, and you’ll be introduced to a passionate, utterly rocking music that careens from melancholy to joy in the space of a couple bars.

Tom Laskin, Isthmus, March 17, 2000 Madison WI

"Lingo Lingo"
A Review

When approaching world music, it’s best to avoid using terms like mesmerizing and beguiling. Too elitist, too cliched. Any yet no two words better convey the wiggy sonic meltdowns detonating throughout Turkish clarinet master Barbaros Erköse’s Lingo Lingo, recorded in one day in 99.

Presenting both classical Turkish music and more chaotic improvisational pieces peculiar to gypsy players, Erköse creates an equilibrium-frying rhythmic patchwork so vivid that you half expect to hear Grand Bazaar carpetbaggers howling in the background. When Erköse lets rip against a violin and oud, resistance is futile.

Rating: NNNNN (Bling, bling!), KH, NOW MARCH 23-29, 2000, Toronto

Clarinet Delight
Turkish musician Barbaros Erköse plays unchained music

African rhythms contribute significantly to what has evolved as jazz music. Eastern Europe has played a great role in that development too, as one can hear while listening to Turkish clarinet master Barbaros Erköse.

Reed instruments such as the saxophone and clarinet have their origins in Eastern European cultures, so it should not be surprising that Lingo Lingo, the 1999 album by the seven-piece Barbaros Erköse Ensemble has more in common with Benny Goodman than with, say, world music dabbler Loreena McKennitt.

Improvisation plays an important role in what Erköse plays — a masterful blend of fasil (light Turkish classical) style favoured by urban Turks. He acknowledges influences from all over Turkey, the Balkans, Azerbaijan, Africa and even American jazz (he has recorded with trombonist Craig Harris).

Concert promoter Ates Temeltas, who emigrated from Turkey about 20 years ago, runs Golden Horn Records in California, but says he was not satisfied merely to distribute discs like Lingo Lingo. Staging a seven-stop North American tour is another achievement altogether. “I feel very successful right now, connecting these musicians with people,” Temeltas relates.

It has been 20 years since Erköse visited the United States. He has never toured in Canada until now. Friday’s concert is presented by the Turkish Embassy in Ottawa.

Erköse does not speak English and Temeltas says he sometimes wonders if music really is the universal language. “I don’t know if it is or if it’s not but his clarinet is able to make people go through different ranges of emotion,” Temeltas says, adding he has seen audience members weep at the melancholy tunes and dance to the joyful ones.

Working for the radio was an achievement; yet, Erköse couldn’t sit still. Although the clarinetist still performs for some radio concerts, he left the salaried position in the mid-1980s in order to tour abroad. “It became a job, like any other job. So for a musician, who wants to reach out, it became a chain,” says Temeltas, who has translated many interviews for Erköse.

John Lyttle, Ottawa X Press, March 23, 2000

Heads up
Turkish Delight

...The Barbaros Erköse Ensemble features the premier reedman of Istanbul and Ankara, an improvising marvel who has played for folk theatres, acrobats, dancers and wedding parties, and spent several years as a staff musician on Turkish national radio. Erköse, 64, has a terrific new CD on a California label - "Lingo Lingo", from Golden Horn Records - that should delight anyone interested in gypsy, Middle Eastern, Balkan, and world jazz sounds...

Tom Surowicz,Minneapolis Tribune, March 18, 2000

Critic’s Choice

Turkish clarinet virtuoso Barbaros Erköse made his reputation playing tzigane, the melancholy, microtonal music of the Turkish Rom people, or Gypsies. But Rom music by its very nature is a blend, shaped by the gradual migration of nomads from India to Europe, and Erköse’s music reflects his own experience as well as that of his ancestors. He was born into a musical family in 1936, and in 1961 he and his brothers Ali (violin) and Selahattin (oud) went to work for the state-owned Radio Istanbul — the most reliable employer of Rom musicians at the time. Together they developed a repertoire of dance, folk, and fasil (light classical) music, gaining popularity at home and abroad; they spent the next several decades recording and touring... Now, with his own seven-member group, he’s twisting it some more. On the new Lingo Lingo (Golden Horn) there’s an original called “Yalvaris,” which was inspired by a North African dance song he heard in a French disco, and some of his dazzling improvisations borrow motifs, rhythmic accents, and intervallic leaps from jazz. Joining him for this rare local performance will be Ucal, cellist Tuncay Erköse (his son), and percussionist Ali Gorgulu.

Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader, March 22, 2000

Barbaros Erköse and band swing around globe

People who think that crossing international borders between musical styles is a modern phenomenon should slide the new album by Barbaros Erköse into their CD players.

It quickly becomes apparent that well before African artists started dropping Western funk licks into their music or American rockers began dabbling in Indian classical styles, this gypsy clarinetist from Turkey was absorbing ’40s and ’50s American jazz in all its swinging, complex glory.

Erköse and his ensemble make their local debut tomorrow night at the Somerville Theatre.

"Barbaros comes from a long line of clarinet players from a gypsy Roman family", explained Ates Temeltas, who is managing the group’s North American tour. "Music is very much in their lives."

"As he grew up, he also listened to a lot of jazz people like Benny Goodman. He didn’t even realize what he was listening to. And his family has roots in Greece so Barbaros also has a tendency toward a Balkans taste in music."

"Lingo Lingo", the most recent disc from Erköse, has a distinct Middle Eastern quality, with the leader’s slinky improvisations winding through the traditional instrumentation of the oud, darbuka, violin, and the Turkish zither known as the kanun.

There’s also more than a touch of adventure in the band’s playing. Erköse likes to experiment, having collaborated with American jazz trombonist Craig Harris, Tunisian oud player Anour Brahem and others.

"Much of what the band plays is called fasil music, which is a 20th century extension of classical music", said Temeltas. "It’s a lot lighter and livelier, a more entertaining kind of music. Then he added in the colors of folk."

Bob Young, Boston Herald, March 17, 2000

The sinuous, virtuoso clarinet work of Turkish-born Gypsy Erköse snakes its way through a heady synthesis of backing stuff. The music has its grounding in a light, classical Turkish style called fasil and traditional Rom (Gypsy) music. Erköse’s sparkling new CD Lingo Lingo (Golden Horn Records) also flirts with more contemporary urban Turkish and Greek sounds, Arabic and North African strains, tango, folk idioms, and improvisation techniques strongly influenced by Western jazz. To Western ears this is exotic, intoxicating music loaded with intricate charm and the kind of insinuating drive that inspires some to leap up on tables and whirl like dervishes.

Rick Mason, City Pages, Minneapolis, March 15, 2000