Oran Etkin: New Dwelling


New Dwelling


Oran Etkin (bass clarinet)


Kelenia (Motéma Music MTM 24)

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Oran Etkin (bass clarinet),

Balla Kouyate (balafon), Makane Kouyate (calabash), Joe Sanders (bass), Jesse Marino (cello I and II), Sara Caswell (violin I and II)


Composed by Oran Etkin


Recorded: Brooklyn, New York


Rating: 88/100 (learn more)

Imagine this: a hip hop beat meted out by hand-made percussion, a balafon (a West African wooden xylophone-like instrument), a small string section playing pentatonic scales, and a bass clarinet lurking its way around all this. That only begins to describe Oran Etkin’s one-of-a-kind mosaic of First and Third World cultures. There’s a breakdown section in the middle where Balla Kouyate improvises fluently with Malian sensibilities and not so much a jazz one. Sanders’ bass meanwhile serves superbly as the funky link between the percussion and the string quartet.

“New Dwelling” is where Eric Dolphy, Dr. Dre, the Third Stream, and the music of Mali all collide. Visual collisions are compelling to watch and likewise, this audio collision is compelling to listen to. The notable difference here is that Etkin’s inventive concoction doesn’t leave behind a mess.

Reviewer: S. Victor Aaron


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