Ali Berkok - Piano
Ali Berkok is a pianist, improviser and composer based in Toronto. His electro-acoustic quartet Aurochs can be witnessed monthly at the Tranzac club. Aurochs’ second album “Another Helpful Medicine” will be released in Fall 2016 on the All-Set! imprint. Berkok’s solo piano music, is a diverse array of re-imagined jazz standards, original compositions and purely improvised pieces, all of which seek to explore fully the inner workings of the piano.
Ali Berkok’s compositions include a score for Eisenstein’s 1925 silent film Battleship Potemkin, for which he assembled a twelve-piece chamber ensemble at Toronto’s Beit Zeitoun, where over two sold-out nights they performed the score live with a screening of the film. Arkana, a quintet consisting of Berkok (piano), Mark Laver (saxophone), Tom Richards (trombone), Gord Mowat (bass) and Jake Oelrichs (drums) have released two albums: Hyprovisation and Kaleidoscope, which feature music for improvising jazz quintet. Arkana’s third album, featuring a brand new quartet of Berkok, Andrew Miller (drums), Karen Ng (saxophone) and Erika Nielsen (cello), is workshopping towards a recording in Spring 2017.
In addition to his projects as a creative leader, Ali maintains longstanding collaborations with those in his immediate musical family: Mike Smith Company (formerly Muskox, who released six albums and were voted best jazz band of the year by NOW Magazine), and Tova Kardonne.
Ali is a multi-grant winning artist (Canada Council, Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council) and is a recipient of the Canada Graduate Scholarship SSHRC for his Master’s research. Currently, he pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Toronto, where he researches multidimensional musical time, or, music with overt or implied periods of two or more simultaneous tempos – like when your radio and windshield wipers are in and then out of sync.
Ali volunteers as an organizer for Somewhere There Creative Music Presentations who run a regular series including local Toronto improvisers and international luminaries. Somewhere There’s annual festival has received significant funding from the Canada Council of the Arts and has become a fixture in Toronto’s DIY music scene.
Ali is looking forward to his eleventh year at the Music Studio. Students can expect an emphasis on sight-reading, as well as a strong ear-based approach to rhythm. Though knowledge of piano literature is an important goal, Ali is always eager to find the most appropriate middle ground between a classical and more jazz/popular music approach.
For more information, please visit https://www.aliberkok.com