"Serkan Cagri had started from the point where I am today." - Giora Feidman
If you've ever watched Serkan Cagri perform with any of the numerous projects he's been associated with through the years, the first word that might occur to you is "effortless." His body swings lightly from side to side, he gives subtle winks to the orchestra to indicate rhythmic breaks and tempo changes, his knees bend as if he's floating in water and his shoulders keep time as if he's dancing from the top down.
Visuals aside, Serkan's musical diversity is well known to anyone who has watched his popular show on the Turkish TRT television channel, where he writes and performs with the top musicians of the day, including his own Rumeli band, which performs Gypsy Balkan music with such energy that you feel like dancing and clapping even if you're just sitting in your living room.
Serkan's collaborations are extensive, reaching into the western classical world (his ethereal modern orchestration of the Concierto de Aranjuez makes you think it was written for clarinet and not guitar). Even in his modern renditions, Serkan never lets you forget his roots as a deeply trained classical musician who is able to cross the boundaries within sections of a piece, uniting Greek, Turkish, Bulgarian and Gypsy styles as if they were born in the same crib.
Jazz and Blues don't phase him either. Playing a Krivo Hora, you'll hear the music slide from Bulgarian rhythmic asymmetries into blues piano then into a solo clarinet taxim without losing a beat. No stranger to Greek music, Serkan can be heard taking a Greek Zeybek and underlaying it with Jazz and Funk harmonies in his "Zeybek-Jazz", which features breathtaking Balkan breaks peppered with harmonies that remind the listener of Miles Davis' Water Babies or the earlier work of Weather Report.
Audiences and musicians alike, love Serkan. Following his reception of the "Best Clarinet Performer" Contest when he was only thirteen, he joined the Grup Lacin, and was featured as a guest artist in Mercan Dede & Secret Tribe, Kardes Tuerkueler and Yarkin Ensemble and many others. The popular icon of Klezmer clarinet, Giora Feidman was quoted as saying, "Serkan Cagri had started from the point where I am today".
In spite of his mastery of the clarinet, Serkan is equally comfortable accompanying vocalists such as the wonderful Yildiz Ibrahimova. Listen also to his work with Melihat Guelses Yildizlarin Altinda and Mavi Ada, where the music seethes with a warm sensuality, transporting the listener into a world of deep thought before oozing into a light, danceable Longa at the same time playful and melancholy.
Serkan Cagri is dedicated to the clarinet and its development, both musically and technically. He has written extensively about it and has even published a teaching manual on the techniques of performing on the G-clarinet, as well as been commissioned to redesign the instrument, leading to a model named after him by the Amatu-Denak company.
If you have the chance to experience Serkan Cagri, you should not miss out. His concerts and recordings will leave you breathless.