For a country of some 7.5 million, Israel has a surprisingly large jazz footprint. More and more internationally acclaimed jazz musicians happen to be from the country. [NPR] Twenty-five or so years ago, the Thelma Yellin High School of the Arts based in Giv’atayim, like many arts magnet schools, became known as a jazz incubator. The Rimon School for Jazz and Contemporary Music started up in 1985, and developed an affiliation with Berklee College of Music in Boston. Well known U.S. jazz musician Arnie moved to Israel in 1997, where he founded the International Center for Creative Music, an education facility open to both Jewish and Arab students.
A bit of research went into this post. Click on each artist’s name to play a YouTube sample featuring that artist. See full length clips in the comment section below. Feel free to add your own. Enjoy!
(Click for music)
|Omer Avital||Omer Avital was born in 1971 in Givatayim to Moroccan and Yemeni parents. After spending a year in the Israeli Army Orchestra, he moved to New York in 1992 where he began playing, recording and touring professionally.|
|Or Bareket||Or Bareket grew up in Argentina and Israel, and now lives in Brooklyn, New York. Or was the 1st Prize winner of the 2011 International Society of Bassists’ Jazz Competition. He has worked with Ari Hoenig, Jean-Michel Pilc, The 3 Cohens, Don Friedman, Eliot Zigmund, Billy Hart, Victor Lewis, David Feldman and many others.|
|Roni Ben-Hur||Roni Ben-Hur is an Israeli jazz guitarist who emigrated to the United States in 1985. His parents were originally from Tunisia. His 2004 book, Talk Jazz: Guitar from the Mel Bay Talk Jazz series is now out of print and much sought after by jazz guitarists.|
|Dekel Bor||Dekel Bor started playing guitar at age 15 and moved to Copenhagen at the age of 19. At 21, Bor moved to New York to attend The New School on a full scholarship. Bor was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident in August 2015. All of his scheduled performances and appearances were canceled or postponed at that time, at least until spring 2016.|
|Amir Bresler||Amir Bresler was born in Rishon-Letzion, Israel on November 8th, 1989. He started his musical education at the age of 13, spending three years with teacher Avi Zehavi and has since studied with Eitan Itzkovitch, and others. In 2010 Amir Joined the world renowned bass player, singer and composer Avishai Cohen, in concerts globally.|
|Anat Cohen||In 1996, Anat Cohen studied clarinet and saxophone at the Berklee College of Music. She has also recorded with her brothers Avishai Cohen (trumpeter) and Yuval Cohen (alto and soprano saxophonist). She was voted Clarinetist of the Year in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 by the Jazz Journalists Association|
|Avishai Cohen (Bassist)||One of the better known Israeli jazz artists, Avishai Cohen was born in 1970 in Kibbutz Kabri. He began playing the piano at 9 years old, but changed to the bass guitar at the age of 14. He eventually moved to New York, and in 1996, joined the Chick Corea sextet Origin. He currently performs with his own group, the Avishai Cohen Trio.|
|Avishai Cohen (Trumpet)||Cohen was born in Tel Aviv, Israel. He grew up in a musical family with sister Anat and brother. At the age of eight, he asked his mother for trumpet lessons. As a Teenager Avishai Toured with The Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra. Avishai went to the Berklee jazz school in Boston and now lives in New York.|
|Eli Degibri||Eli Degibri was born in 1978 in Yaffo. Degibri first began playing the mandolin at age 7. In 1994, then 1997, Degibri was selected to receive a full scholarship to attend the Berklee College of Music and moved to the U.S. On August 29, 2013, he released his sixth album, Twelve, featuring Gadi Lehavi, Ofri Nehemya, and Barak Mori.|
|Daniel Dor||Daniel was born 1986 in Tel-Aviv. While Daniel’s first musical lessons were at the piano, he was fascinated with the drum-set from an early age and began taking private lessons at the age of 10. Daniel’s work is featured on Avishai Cohen’s highly acclaimed new record “From Darkness.”|
|Shauli Einav||Shauli was born in 1982 in the countryside of Israel and started playing the violin at the age of 4. At 13 he switched to the saxophone and started playing with many Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv based bands. Einav recently relocated to Paris after 7 fruitful years in the vibrant jazz scene of NYC.|
|Oran Etkin||At age 14, Etkin began his musical studies in Boston with the saxophone. He studied Arabic music in Jerusalem. His exposure to Malian music is also a significant influence, having played in Mali with Toumani Diabaté, Super Rail Band, and Habibe Koité.|
|Anat Fort||Anat Fort was born in 1970 near Tel Aviv. She is an Israeli jazz, pianist and composer who has recorded several acclaimed albums and performed across Europe and the United States. She moved to New York in 1996 to develop her skills in jazz improvisation under the guidance of pianist Paul Bley and study composition with Harold Seletsky.|
|Aaron Goldberg||Aaron Goldberg was born in Boston. He began taking piano lessons at 7, and started playing jazz when he was 14. In November 2014, Goldberg released The Now, a 10-song album of his own compositions, jazz standards, and reworkings of Brazilian songs.|
|Gilad Hekselman||Gilad is the winner of the 2005 Gibson Montreux International Guitar Competition. He has played all major jazz clubs in New York City including the Blue Note, The Jazz Standard, Dizzy’s Club and Smalls.|
|Tamir Hendelman||Tamir moved to the US at age 12 in 1984, winning Yamaha’s national keyboard competition 2 years later at age 14. Concerts in Japan and the Kennedy Center followed. In his own trio, he explores standards, Brazilian music, blues and his Israeli roots.|
|Nitai Hershkovits||Born in Israel to a Morrocan mother and a Polish father, Nitai started playing the clarinet at age 12, only to discover his love for the piano at age 15. Nitai has been collaborating with internationally acclaimed bassist and composer Avishai Cohen.|
|Yaron Herman||Yaron Herman was born in Tel Aviv. He moved to Boston, where he intended to attend the Berklee College of Music but rapidly preferred to start his career in Paris. See my post on Herman’s cover of “Lu Yehi”|
|Ori Kaplan||Ori Kaplan is a jazz saxophonist and a music producer who moved from Israel to the United States in 1991. In 2004 he formed Balkan Beat Box with Tamir Muskat. The band has been touring globally since and has released 4 albums thus far.|
|Assaf Kehati||Jazz guitarist and composer Assaf Kehati arrived to the USA from Israel in 2007. Mr. Kehati has performed at some of the world’s leading venues including the Blue Note; the DC Jazz Festival; MuzEnergo Jazz Festival, Tel Aviv Museum, Barranquilla Jazz Festival; and Toronto Jazz Festival.|
Avi Lebovich was born in Yahud, Israel and began studying classical piano at age 9. When he reached 13, he switched to the trombone and attended the “Thelma Yellin School of Arts”. He moved to New York in 1992, where he attended “New School University” and “Mannes College of Music”.
Pianist Shai Maestro was born in Israel on February 5th 1987. He began playing classical piano at the age of 5. Maestro joined Avishai Cohen’s Trio together with drummer Mark Guiliana where he played for 5 years around the globe. In 2011, Maestro left Cohen’s group to pursue his own career as a band leader.
|Rafi Malkiel||Born in Jerusalem in 1972, Malkiel currently resides in New York where he has established himself as a mainstay on that city’s jazz and Latin music. Malkiel’s critically acclaimed debut album “My Island” features original compositions and his arrangements of popular Latin and jazz classics.|
|Dan Mayo||Dan Mayo was born in Israel in 1990. He is a drummer, composer and educator well known for his playing and composing with TATRAN, a power-trio with Tamuz Dekel on guitar and Offir Benjaminov on the bass.|
|Omri Mor||Omri Mor was born in 1983 and raised in Jerusalem. He studied classical music at the Jerusalem Rubin Academy of Music. He studied Andalousian-style music with Nino “Elmaghribi” Biton. He plays regularly in jazz festivals in Israel and abroad.|
|Ziv Ravitz||Ziv Ravitz was born in Beersheba and focused on percussion at the ripe old age of 13. He lives and works in New York, and recently released the album Everyday with Yaron Herman.|
|Issi Rozen||Issi Rozen is an Israeli-born jazz guitarist currently residing in Boston, Massachusetts. He has been recognized for mixing traditional middle-eastern and straight jazz elements into his music. In 2002, Rozen began teaching guitar and music theory at Berklee College of Music.|
|Harold Rubin||Harold Rubin is a South African-born Israeli visual artist and free jazz clarinettist. He moved to Israel in 1962. Rubin returned to playing jazz in late 1979, having previously given up performance for more than a decade after his emigration from Africa.|
|Yotam Silberstein||Tel Aviv native Yotam Silberstein began playing guitar at age 10. By the age of 21, Silberstein has won the coveted “Israeli Jazz Player of The Year.” Yotam Silberstein moved to New York in 2005. He has won the Sundance Time Warner award for film music.|
|Ofir Shwartz||Ofir Shwartz was born in Haifa. He is an Israeli award-winning jazz pianist, composer, arranger and producer. He is one of the leading Israeli touring musicians.|
|Asaf Sirkis||Asaf was born in 1969 in Petah-Tikva, Israel. At the age of 12 Asaf began drum lessons, while also having a strong interest in playing electric bass. In October 1998, Asaf left Israel and settled in London in April 1999. He soon become part of the UK Jazz and world music scene.|
|Assif Tsahar||Assif Tsahar was born in Israel in 1969. He is a tenor saxophonist and bass clarinetist. He has lived in New York City since 1990. He founded the label Hopscotch Records in 1999. In 2006 he opened the music club Levontin7 with Daniel Sarid in Tel Aviv.|
A Hammond B-3 specialist, keyboardist Sam Yahel is a progressive musician with a bent toward mixing expansive post-bop and cerebral organ trio funk . Since moving to New York City in 1990, Yahel has performed and recorded with a wide array of name musicians.
One of my favorites Sam Yahel pieces