Ori Kaplan (October 1, 1969) is a jazz saxophonist from Tel Aviv, Israel. He moved to the United States in 1991. He has worked with Tom Abbs and the Balkan Beat Box.
In the last decade in NYC, Ori recorded 5 releases as a leader for NY's premier downtown new music labels while playing with some of the best NYC bands as a collaborator. Kaplan received the Jerome award for Young Jazz Composers 2001. He joined the acclaimed band Gogol Bordello. Self described as Gypsy Punk Cabaret, Gogol has spearheaded the Eastern European cultural revolution taking place in NYC . He plays with Firewater since '98.The band is led by ex Cop Shoot Cop front man Tod A. He has also collaborated and recorded with: Susie Ibarra KFW(284) (Kaplan/Ibarra featured at the Whitney Museum Soundcheck series) Speedball Baby, Big Lazy, J.U.F., Victoria Hanna, John Zorn, Vision Orchestra, William Parker, and many others. He formed his Shaat'nez Band joined with Andrew Bemkey, Geoff Mann, Adam Roberts , Marcus Rojas on Tuba and Tamir Muskat (Big Lazy) on Drums. The band explores Jewish, Middle Eastern, and Gypsy traditions through a contemporary looking glass (Le Magus - Knitting Factory Works 307 KFW). the Shaat'nez evolved into the more electric Shot'nez - a collective with Stephen Ulrich (guitar) and Tamir Muskat - drums (both of Big Lazy) and Itamar Ziegler- Bass - Shot'nez' singular sound of film noire, Middle Eastern and southern blues has been described as "one foot in the swamp and the other in the desert" "an amazing sonic experience".
In a duo collaboration with Tamir Muskat Called Balkan Beat Box, Muskat and Kaplan dig into the new fresh possibilities of electronic music mixed with hard core folk music from north Africa, Middle East and the Balkans. They collaborate with great talents from these countries in an ever expanding creative exchange. Kaplan performs with the above projects around the world constantly in the last decade.
The first band that Kaplan played for was DXM, an underground sampler-driven group in Tel Aviv. He chose playing for DXM instead of taking clarinet lessons.
He stayed in Israel until 1991, which is when he immigrated to the U.S. After getting a degree from Mannes College in 1996, Kaplan formed a group with Tom Abbs and Geoff Mann called Trio Plus. The Trio became a quartet in 1997 when Steve Swell joined.
In the same year, Kaplan also joined a lot of jazz projects related to the Knitting Factory.
Kaplan joined the rock band Firewater in 1998 and toured both the U.S. and Europe. He also formed his Ori Kaplan Percussion Ensemble, with Susie Ibarra, Geoff Mann, and Andrew Bemkey.