Barbaros Erköse Ensemble
North American Tour / March 2000

The nature of the Gypsy is to travel and Gypsy (or Rom) music, with it’s diverse range of influences, reflects these journeys through the cultures of many nations. As our world shrinks, our music and we become increasingly touched and influenced through our travels through the rhythms and melodies of the world. Our ears become open to new sounds as jazz, reggae, world beat, hip-hop and all the many, many old and new musics of the world intermingle. The most open and innovative musicians create new languages out of traditional forms of expression. New vernaculars mingle with ancient idioms crossing cultural boundaries while retaining their original passion and flavor to create some of the most interesting and vibrant music of our times.

Turkish born clarinet virtuoso Barbaros Erköse is among the many skilled performers who are collaborating with other musicians from all over the world to explore new ways to nurture the growth of a world music rooted in many soils. Not content to rest upon his laurels as a respected classical Turkish and Rom musician, Erköse seeks out projects that dissolve the boundaries of nations and genres. His collaboration with New York born and bred jazz trombonist Craig Harris, Istanbul/Craig Harris & The Nation of Imagination featuring Barbaros Erköse (Pozitif Imaj 1998), is his latest journey into a land inhabited by jazz, hip hop, reggae, African and Turkish music (among others).

Erköse, aware of the power of the past, has not abandoned his roots or his love of Gypsy music in his quest for new idioms. He still performs the traditional Turkish folk music (Gypsy or Rom music) that first made him famous. With the Barbaros Erköse Ensemble he has brought the passionate sounds of Gypsy music beyond the borders of Turkey to Europe and North America.

Live, whether sharing the stage with American jazz or traditional Turkish musicians, Erköse embraces and incites the audience with the vitality and passion of Turkish and Gypsy music. He balances out the great celebratory joy of Gypsy music with the melancholy of jazz, euphoria with a touch of the blues. While his passion makes his performances more than energetic enough to keep hips swaying in bacchanalian celebration, his finesse and subtlety makes him capable of holding a concert hall enthralled. Though his roots are Turkish and Rom, Erköse is a citizen of the world and his music speaks a language that captivates people of all cultures.


Gypsy clarinetist Barbaros Erköse grew up steeped in the sounds of Turkish popular and traditional Rom (or Gypsy) music. Born in 1938 into a family of accomplished musicians - his father was the family’s music teacher, his brother Ali played violin and Selahattin played oud - Barbaros found his voice in the clarinet. One of his early teachers was the legendary Saffet Gündeger. Though his first professional performance was at the age of fourteen, it wasn't (according to Barbaros) until he reached the age of twenty-two that his father was truly satisfied with his son’s clarinet playing.

In 1961, after hearing a performance of Gypsy tunes by the three Erköse brothers, the government owned Istanbul Radio offered them jobs. (In Turkey it is common practice for radio stations to hire musicians to play in studio.) The Erköse brothers fast became the favorite musicians of Turkish stars of the time such as Zeki Müren and Gönül Yazar. They recorded for several European and Turkish labels and their tours took them to the US, Europe and the Middle East. Erköse had become, and still is, recognized as a virtuoso Gypsy musician who plays with passion as well as refined technique.

An inquisitive musician intrigued and excited by all forms of music, Erköse became involved in projects that took him on a journey into different styles in the early 1990s. He played with Tunisian oud player Anouar Brahem on Brahem’s 1992 recording Conte de l'incroyable amour (ECM) and became a frequent member of Brahem’s trio, which includes percussionist Lassad Hosni. While performing in Europe, Erköse met German musician Peter Pannke which led to their collaboration on a project related to Heinrich Von Morungen, a German traveler from the 13th Century. This project, which involved seven musicians including Erköse's long-time percussion accompanist Güngör Hosses, resulted in an album called Morungen/Songs from Visionary Musical. Erköse toured with the project, performing in Europe, India, Pakistan and Tunisia.

Last year Erköse’s interest in fusing different forms of music resulted in a recorded collaboration with American jazz trombonist Craig Harris and his Nation of Imagination project. Turkish, Rom, jazz, reggae, funk, hip hop and many more genres fuse in this project which melds old and new musical dialects into a music truly of the world. A world music where the sound of the soul is more important than the tongue in which it speaks. Though Erköse is a highly accomplished musician, he views technical abilities as mere vehicles to carry emotions and that the ability to play soulful music must come from one’s own experiences. Erköse's clarinet speaks volumes as it wraps itself around the emotive tongues of Gypsy music, jazz and the many new musical territories and their languages into which his insatiable musical curiosity leads him.

Reviews Collection




March 17, 2000

New York, NY

World Music Institute

Symphony Space, Broadway at 95th St., New York
(212) 545-7536

March 18, 2000
8 PM

Boston, MA

Somerville Theatre
55 Davis Sq., Somerville

World Music
Telephone: (617) 876-4275
Fax: (617) 876-9170

March 19, 2000

Minneapolis, MN

Cedar Cultural Center

March 21, 2000

Madison, WI

University of Wisconsin
Memorial Union, Great Hall
The Village Dance House
Info: (608) 233-5322

March 22, 2000
7 PM

Chicago, IL

Chicago Cultural Center
Claudia Cassidy Theatre
78 E. Washington St
Chicago, IL 60602

March 24, 2000
8 PM

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

CMC Theatre
Canadian Museum of Civilization
100 Laurier Street
P. O. Box 3100, Station B
Hull, Quebec J8X 4H2
Telephone: (819) 776-7181
Fax: (819) 776-8279
Presented in cooperation the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey.

March 26, 2000
8 PM

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

du Maurier Theatre Centre
231 Queens Quay West
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
(416) 973-4000

For Information:
Alan Davis

Small World Music
Telephone: (416) 536-4769

click to listenLingo Lingo Siseler, from
new album
"Lingo Lingo" - GHP 012-2