Oran Etkin

Oran Etkin
Oran Etkin has been described as "ebullient" by the New York Times and "composer of eminent individuality" by the legendary Yusef Lateef. He was voted #1 Rising Star Clarinetist in DownBeat Magazine's 2016 Critics Poll and has been invited several times to Harvard University as a guest lecturer. Etkin's duo concert with Sullivan Fortner in Paris was chosen as one of the Top 6 Musical Highlights of the year by Libération, which described it as "a concert of weightlessness, class, spark, inspiration and sharing."

Oran Etkin began reimagining how touring can become part of the creative process with his Gathering Light project. Flipping the traditional record-then-tour model, he first toured in Indonesia, China, Japan, Israel and West Africa and then let the rhythms and melodies he encountered influence the music he created with his New York based trio of Nasheet Waits and Ben Allison (with guests Lionel Loueke & Curtis Fowlkes). Since then, he has only deepened his concept of gathering light as he tours: taking time off between shows to live with traditional mbira masters in Zimbabwe, building collaborative projects with Roma (Gypsy) musicians in Czech Republic.

Now he has gathered the fruits of these and other global collaborations into a family-friendly album that tells a tale of friendship and understanding told through the eyes of the instruments themselves! The new album, Finding Friends Far From Home: A Journey With Clara Net was recorded and filmed on location in Zimbabwe, China, Czech Republic & Turkey with veritable masters of each country's traditional music and is woven into a playful tale about Clara Net (Etkin's Clarinet) making new instrument friends around the world. Etkin feels a strong responsibility to continue passing the rich musical traditions of this world on to the next generation.

For nearly a decade, Etkin's Timbalooloo program has created a paradigm shift in music education, instilling the idea of music as communication and dialogue by making instruments come alive and talk with each other. Harvey Keitel, who enrolled his son in Timbalooloo for three years remarked "our son was talking about Herbie Hancock, Mozart, Samba and African music - and he knew the difference!".

Etkin's deep passion for music was nurtured from an early age by both formal training and informal mentorship by his elders. By the age of nine, Etkin was playing piano, guitar, violin and saxophone. After falling in love with the music of Louis Armstrong, Etkin's parents took him to visit New Orleans where the legendary Anthony "Tuba Fats" Lacen briefly took the young Etkin under his wing. He continued his studies with jazz saxophone greats such as George Garzone, Dave Liebman and Yusef Lateef, symphonic clarinetists such as Charles Neidich and Tom Martin and traditional griot musicians from West Africa. He received his Masters in Music from Manhattan School of Music.

Now as a touring musician Etkin continues to collaborate with great musicians from many cultures, experiencing firsthand how in every society, the true power of music lies not just in the individual's pursuit of technical mastery but in the joyful and soulful creation of community! 

I strive to make my sound an honest reflection of my soul, open and unafraid of vulnerability.