Oran Ektin has been described as a “great clarinet player” and “an excellent improviser” by the New York Times music critic Ben Ratliff and a “woodwind maestro” by PRI’s internationally syndicated show, Afropop Worldwide. He has performed around the world with musicians ranging from jazz guitarist Mike Stern to rapper Wyclef Jean. Etkin’s music is featured on a GRAMMY Nominated album, Healthy Food For Thought, alongside tracks by Russell Simmons, Moby and Sweet Honey In The Rock. He is also the creator of Timbalooloo music classes, CDs, live performances and video programing for children, which has been endorsed by Naomi Watts, Liev Schreiber, Edie Falco, Ken Burns, Daphna Kastner Keitel and Harvey Keitel (all of whom enrolled their children in Timbalooloo Music Classes).
Oran Etkin’s album Kelenia (Motema Music), fuses traditional Malian and Jewish music with modern jazz creating what the Boston Globe dubbed a “hypnotic balance between straight-ahead jazz and world music”. Kelenia won “Best World Beat Album” at the Independent Music Awards. The CD features Oran’s working group with Malian griot musicians Balla Kouyate, Makane Kouyate and bassist Joe Sanders as well as guests including vocalist Abdoulaye Diabate, Grammy Award Winning artists Lionel Loueke and John Benitez and even a string quartet on one track. The resulting sound is a reflection of Oran’s musical personality rooted in jazz but shaped by the many musical worlds that Oran is a part of in New York, including African, Jewish, Haitian and New Orleans music. Even before its release, Kelenia debuted at # 10 on the nationwide radio charts and All Music Guide has declared that Oran “sets a new standard for world music in the decade of the 2000s”.
Oran built his foundations studying with George Garzone starting at age 14 and later with Yusef Lateef. He studied classical clarinet and composition as an undergraduate and received a Masters in Jazz Performance at the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with Dave Liebman and Dave Krakauer among others.
Oran continues the tradition of music education through a groundbreaking new method of teaching music called Timbalooloo. The popularity of Etkin’s educational method has spread through word of mouth. His music classes are now offered throughout New York City and have been attended by over 500 students. Etkin has also taken his educational method on tour, enabling families throughout the US to participate in his classes. Etkin is also a faculty member of the Brooklyn Conservatory and Washington Market School.
Harvey Keitel and Daphna Kastner Keitel, who enrolled their son in Etkin’s Timbalooloo Music Classes for three years, remarked that he “makes music from all over the world accessible and fun for children to listen to and learn about. From the age of two, our son was talking about Herbie Hancock, Mozart, Samba, and African music – and he knew the difference.”
After the release of Kelenia, his critically acclaimed album for adults, Oran turned his attention to creating a new CD for children called Wake Up, Clarinet!, which has already won awards from the Parents Choice Foundation, NAPPA and the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal. The CD features Jason Marsalis from New Orleans on drums, Fabian Almazan from Cuba on piano, Curis Fowlkes from Brooklyn on trombone, and Garth Stevenson from Canada on bass. Etkin, who is originally from Israel, plays clarinet, saxophone and sings alongside acclaimed vocalist Charnee Wade. One track, called Little Lamb Jam, was chosen by Putumayo Kids to be released on their compilation entitled Jazz Playground. Etkin is also in the process of adapting his method into a series of children’s books and is in the early stages of developing a pilot for a children’s TV show based on this method.
Oran has performed at the Blue Note, Central Park SummerStage, Joe’s Pub, the United Nations and numerous other venues in the US, Europe, Africa, the Caribbean and the Middle East with musicians including Jason Marsalis, Wycliffe Gordon, Lionel Loueke, Mike Stern, Mandingo Ambassadors, Airto Moreira, Toumani Diabate, Killah Priest (of the Wu-Tang Clan) and Wyclef Jean.