Mike Turk

Bronx-born Turk began his passion for the harmonica in his early teen years, learning licks off albums by leading Chicago blues harp exponents Paul Butterfield, Little Walter, and James Cotton.

After deciding to take up the life of a professional jazz-and-blues musician, he traveled to Boston in the mid-1970s and became a fixture at many local clubs. Also in this period Turk toured throughout the East Coast and the Mid West States appearing in many concerts, clubs and festivals including New York, Chicago and Minneapolis.

Of late, Turk has performed in Europe and has recorded and toured extensively in Italy.

“Turk's first solo CD project, “Harmonica Salad”, was a brilliant travelogue of blues, jazz, standards, and several points in between, with scenery provided by a constantly changing cast of accompanists. The second,”Turk's Works” is a more singleminded excursion in which Turk has set himself in the middle of a killer quintet and let the tape run. What we get is an inspired, exhilarating, and very live set of sterling jazz. No formulaic drill, no 'theme' concept passed down from the folks in Marketing, no sprint to the finish line." ... Kim Field, author of "Harmonicas, Harps, and Heavy Breathers"

Education being a lifelong process, Turk has continued to learn. An alum of Berklee College of Music (81’), he has also received various National Endowment for The Arts Fellowship Study awards and has been on the faculty at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA.

His trove of expressive riffs and runs has enlivened the soundtracks of many motion pictures, including City of Hope, Dick Tracy, (the latter alongside legendary pianist Jerry Lee Lewis), Lonestar and most recently Honeydripper. Mike has also recorded with artists as diverse as the Temptations, Cincinatti Pops and the Boston Symphony and POPs Orchestras, and supplied his distinctive tones to various Network and Public television productions.

He can now look back on nearly two decades of refining his jazz voice to a point where it is pure and natural. The blues roots are there... "What we get, though, is music where the ideas and the swing are unforced, where everything flows with such assurance that one forgets that Turk plays one of the jazz world's miscellaneous instruments and simply hears his harmonica as a lead voice, comfortable and in-place as the more familiar trumpet or sax."...Bob Blumenthal, Boston Phoenix

Mike Turk’s latest album release for 2008 “The Nature of Things”, features him performing on The Renaissance model chromatic harmonica built fro him by Douglas Tate and Bobbie Giordano.

“On this collection of songs ranging from the well known Mood Indigo to the theme from I Want to Live, a 1955 Susan Hayward movie, he is sympathetically supported by the estimable duo of Jon Wheatley on seven-string guitar and Marshall Wood on upright bass who display their own sensitive musicianship. On the last song, the self-penned and mysteriously titled Pickle in the Bank, Mike switches from his regular chromatic harmonica to the short diatonic harmonica most often used in blues and country music. It is an instrument not really well suited to the rigors and demands of jazz, yet Mike makes it work. He is an unquestioned master.”... Jerry Portnoy

"Mike Turk is a no-nonsense musician and the harmonica is his life. [He is] one of a rare breed who started out with the blues harp and went on to get an enviable technique on the chromatic. His home base is bebop with a healthy swinging approach. He shows familiarity with some interesting melodic scales. [He makes] a harmonica statement that should reach out beyond the harmonica audience. . .Turk is a fiery player. . . . came out of the bluesharp and assimilated the chromatic quite fluently. . . . knows his changes and aims for swing! . . . Go for it Mike!" Toots Thielemans

"Mike Turk has applied the language of the saxophone to the harmonica in a very impressive fashion . . . it amazes me." Jerry Bergonzi

". . . It's not surprising to learn that Mike Turk was originally a blues player and started using chromatic harmonica only afterwards, for the blues is there in every note. His style owes a lot to Toots Thielemans, but it's more somber, also more joyful. This album swings from beginning to end . . ." LeJazz Magazine

Mike Turk


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Mike Turk
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