Born into a family of musicians and artists in Ankara, Turkey, Emre moved to the United States when he was nine years old. Soon after, he began to study drums, which led to studying jazz percussion with T. Howard Curtis and receiving his Bachelor’s degree from VCU. He holds an M.A. in jazz performance and composition from New York University and received the Barney Josephson Award in 2003; and he is continuing his D.M.A. studies with Howard Curtis. While in New York, Emre studied with Adam Nussbaum, John Riley, Tony Moreno, Billy Hart, and Jamey Haddad. He has performed and/or recorded with Dena DeRose, Darius Jones, Trevor Dunn, Paul Pieper, John D’earth, Howard Curtis, Mike Richmond, Houston Person and David Liebman.
Emre has toured and performed extensively with the spoken-word, hip-hop group Jazz Poets Society. His first CD as a leader, Perpetual Anxiety, featuring Grammy Award-winning bassist Mike Richmond, is released in Turkey under the Dogan Music label. He performed and recorded with his own quartet Origin, featuring David Liebman, John D’earth, and Howard Curtis. All About Jazz editor John Kelman called Origin “a recording that engages the head and the heart long after it’s over.” He has also performed and recorded for the rock band Brindley Brothers, the electric jazz group “Signals” featuring Paul Pieper, and the trio “Big Girl,” featuring Darius Jones and Trevor Dunn.
As an educator, Kartari worked with the New York Pops Mentors in Music program from 2003 until 2005. In 2009, with the support of the American Embassy in Turkey, he formed Turkey’s first accredited, state-funded jazz program at the Ankara State Conservatory. In 2011 he became the Director of Jazz Studies at Yasar University in Izmir, Turkey, directing the VCU Izmir International Jazz Camp in 2012 and 2013. He formed the group “Sazli-Cazli,” featuring VCU alumni Taylor Barnett and Kevin Simpson, to perform along with Turkish musicians for state-sponsored tours in Turkey in 2015 and 2016. Emre Kartari is an Adjunct Instructor of Jazz at VCU, where he teaches Small Jazz Ensemble.