Ali Berkok is a pianist, improviser, composer and sound designer in Toronto. His electro-acoustic quartet Aurochs (with Pete Johnston - bass, Jake Oelrichs - drums, Mike Smith - electronics) can be witnessed monthly at the Tranzac club. Their second album “Another Helpful Medicine” is out 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.
Berkok's sound design credits for theatre include 13 Hands and Omission (Alumnae Theatre).
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 late, great 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 compositions for improvising jazz quintet.
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 (The Thing Is…).
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. He is pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Toronto, where he researches polytemporality, or, music with overt or implied periods of simultaneous tempos – like when your radio and windshield wipers are in and out of sync with each other. His work as a teaching assistant at the University of Toronto is focused on helping students navigate the twisting corridors of jazz theory.
When he is not writing a dissertation or creating music for public consumption, Berkok teaches private piano lessons at home and at The Music Studio in Etobicoke.