...Breakneck improvisations and rhythms that bounce
across the dance floor...
New York Times, March 17, 2000
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
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
Tom Laskin, Isthmus, March 17, 2000 Madison WI
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,
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
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,”
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
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
...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
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,
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