By Chris Walker, L.A Jazz Scene
Educators, parents, child psychologists and musicians have overwhelming emphasized the importance of exposing children to music at an early age. One musician who’s in the trenches doing the work is reedist Oran Etkin. He was born in Israel and grew up in Boston, where as a teenager he studied with Yusef Lateef and George Garzone before going getting a BA at Brandeis University and MA at the Manhattan School of Music. Shortly afterwards he became a teacher and developed Timbalooloo, a unique way of teaching music to children. Etkin has presented his method all over the world, been nominated for several Grammy’s and was invited by Herbie Hancock to perform in Paris for UNESCO’s International Jazz Day. Additionally, he’s a captivating jazz and world music performer, and Voted #1 Rising Star Clarinetist in Downbeat Critics’ Poll.
At McCabes, Etkin and his group Timbalooloo (piano/vocals, drums and tuba) did a special children’s participatory concert that focused on a special friend, Clara-Net. She was sleeping until the bandleader and audience woke and assembled her. Speaking gradually she called for her mama, a tuba that came from the hallway into the performing area. Etkin and the children through song asked the tuba to come out and play, while the musicians reeled out some New Orleans trad and Dizzy Gillespie’s “Salt Peanuts.” Vera a kalimba also wanted to play and had the young attendees singing and dancing to a festive song from Zimbabwe.
Another friend, a balalaika (triangular shaped guitar) from Russia came out for a folk waltz sung in Yiddish with African rhythms and questions in English. The children were fascinated with the international musical travels that included singing about cherry blossoms in Japan, the queen of Roma music in the Czech Republic, and putting Clara-Net to sleep in Turkey. Ending the fast-paced hour-long show was a funky klezmer dance groove. For more info go to: www.timbalooloo.com