Ali Berkok is a Toronto-based pianist and composer best known for his 2012 chamber score to Battleship Potemkin, and as a founding member of the trio Aurochs, along with Pete Johnston (bass) and Jake Oelrichs (drums). Aurochs's layered, long-form improvisationals can be witnessed every second Tuesday of the month at the Tranzac, and their debut album Rational Animals is available now on iTunes and Bandcamp.
Ali's interest in jazz was ignited as a teenager when he discovered he could disobey the sheet music that he had been trained to follow with accuracy since the age of 8. In almost three decades since then, he has had the privilege of being mentored by/working with Dave Barton, Greg Runions, Mark Eisenman and Don Thompson, and has shared the stage with such jazz icons as Alex Dean, David Buchbinder, Don Palmer, Nick Fraser, Andrew Downing and Mike Murley, to name a few.
After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in music from Queen’s University (Kingston), he relocated to Toronto where he joined the ranks of Josh Grossman's Toronto Jazz Orchestra, accompanying artists such as Jane Bunnett and Kurt Elling.
In 2005, Ali was accepted to the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music under the direction of Dave Douglas. Having there been inspired by Douglas and artists such as Vijay Iyer, Don Byron and Andrew Downing, Ali soon laid the foundation for Arkana, a five piece modern jazz outfit whose albums Hyprovisation (2007) and Kaleidoscope (2009) received critical praise. During this time, Berkok began a lasting collaboration playing piano and keyboards with Mike Smith, whose band Muskox was active in Toronto's weird jazz scene from 2007-2011, playing regularly at the Tranzac and Holy Oak. Muskox released six albums and were voted best jazz band of 2008 by NOW Magazine. Ali continues to work with Smith in the Famous Wildlife Movies project, which was featured in the 2014 Somewhere There Festival.