Photo of Art "Turk" Burton and his conga drums

‘Renaissance Man,’ an expression of rank and degree however well worn, displaced by a generation of modern technology and time is certainly applicable to Art “Turk” Burton. Musician, scholar, husband and roustabout artist extraordinaire “Turk” as he is know by friends & family worldwide is the consummate ‘Renaissance Man.’

Establishing himself as one of the most important rhythmic improvisers of our era, Turk has gone on to conquer as a vital conga and bongo drummer in many varied musical traditions from pop; R&B; Latin and mainstream jazz. Proving himself night after night on the bandstand, in the neighborhood festivals to the concert halls, his music always lends itself a freshness only top players of distinction can imagine much less realize. – cdBaby

SpiritsSpirits: Then & Now – Art “Turk” Burton and Congo Square

There’s important history behind the existence of Art “Turk” Burton and Congo Square, out with a superbly crafted jazz album in the realm of “African Classical Music,” as the conga player describes it.

Spirits: Then & Now featuring Burton on conga drums and saxophonist Ari Brown — among many other original artists — came out earlier this month. While the album offers a spare eight tracks total, the wealth of stories on a distinctively indigenous, ancient beat more than makes up.

Carol Banks Weber Contributor | Oct. 29, 2015



Musical Instrument

Bongo Drums and Conga Drums and miscellaneous percussion – self taught.


Mongo Santamaria, Carlos ‘Patato’ Valdes, Carlos Vidal, Armando Peraza, Tata Guines, Candido Camero, Ray Barretto, Big Black, Henry Gibson, Jose Mangual Sr., Percy James, Babatunde Olatunji, Willie Bobo, Sabu Martinez, Montego Joe, Riche ‘Pablo’ Landrum, Sunni Morgan, Yeyito Iglesias, John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner.


  • Treasurer, AACM 2014 –
  • Chairman, AACM, 2011- 2012
  • Member, Chicago Jazz Institute
  • Leader, Congo Square Artistic Ensemble, an AACM music group.
  • Member of the AACM Great Black Music Ensemble, AACM Experimental Band, Fenix Percussion Ensemble, Renee
  • Baker and the Chicago Modern Orchestra Project, Chicago South Side Big Band.

Former Affiliations

Member of Nicole Mitchell’s Black Earth Ensemble, Chicago guitarist Byron Gregory’s studio band, Kelan Phil Cohran Workshop Ensemble, Muhal Richard Abrams Big Band, (Muhal has recently been inducted as a NEA Jazz Master) Joseph Jarman Big Band, AACM Big Band, Vandy Harris and the Front Burners, The Black Artist Group of Chicago, Shanta Nurullah Ensemble and The Umojian Ensemble and leader of Conjunto Bembe Percussion Ensemble. Leader of a rhythm and blues band named the Soul Naturals, which in 1969 won the Illinois State Battle of the Bands and finished second in the National Battle of the Bands Final in Raleigh, NC that year.


  • Great Black Music Ensemble – “Live in Umbria”
  • Nicole Mitchell – “Hope, Future, Destiny”
  • Ari Brown – “Venus”
  • Tanya Reed – “Live”
  • Vandy Harris – “Pure Fire”
  • Saalik Zayid’s Five After Seven Project – “Live at the Velvet Lounge”
  • Participated in various rhythm and blues group recordings at Chess Studios, Chicago in the early 1970s.

Performed with:

Dizzy Gillespie, Elvin, Jones, Kenny Barron, Randy Weston, Ari Brown, Sonny Stitt, Jimmy Forrest. Lou Donaldson, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Lester Bowie, Ira Sullivan, Ken McIntyre, Anthony Braxton, Don Cherry, Luba Raashiek, Phil Cohran, Kalaparusha, Kenny Barron, Mickey Roker, Freddie Waits, Wilbur Campbell, Kahil El Zabar, Ernest Dawkins, Ed Wilkerson, Joseph Jarman, Don Moye, Roscoe Mitchell, Wilbur Campbell, Jodie Christian, Rufus Reid, Chico Freeman, George Freeman, Henry Threadgill, Malachi Favors, Harrison Bankhead, Jerry Gonzalez, Sammy Torres, Ken Chaney, Michael Rhamlee Davis, Kwame Steve Cobb, Tom Tom Washington and others.