• Ari Erev

    Jazz Pianist, Composer

    "His touch and intimate feel for the
    melody is absolutely gorgeous.."
    Adam Baruch, jazzis.com

Interview for Ha'aretz "Free Jazz" Internet Blog

By Yotam Ziv, Dec 3, 2019.     English Translation

About two and a half years ago I was exposed to the music of pianist Ari Arav, almost by chance. A small ad in the newspaper noted that he releases his third album, "Flow", at the Givatayim Theater. On stage were Eli Magen (bass), Lenny Sendersky (saxophone) and Gaspar Bartoncelj (drums). From the first note it was clear to everyone in the hall that this was a special pianist. Soft, melodic, and has the wonderful ability to skip among styles and rhythms with rare ease. While playing, we noticed that at one of the front tables, his albums were on sale. It took us less than three tunes of the show to purchase them all. For a few days I have been listening to these three albums more than once. much more...

Around the age of thirty he took a break from professional playing and about ten years later returned passionately to playing and creating music. "I have returned to music with great energy, and since then I have created music for three albums, and am trying to perform as much as possible, especially with original material, both in Israel and abroad. I also collaborate with a number of singers such as Chen Levy, Tami Gerassi, Revital Raviv and Anna Spitz, in jazz and Latin music programs. "

Q: What are your sources of musical inspiration?
A: "Pianists, especially piano trios, but not only... also saxophone players (Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, Pecito D'Rivera). Among pianists, Bill Evans is a great love of mine, and certainly the greatest influence on me during a certain period. And there are, Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Kenny Baron and Fred Hersch, whom I've researched quite a bit, and Mulgrew Millerr and Enrico Pieranunzi (Italy). Among the somewhat younger pianists I like Lyle Mays, Danilo Perez, And Marcin Wasilewski (Poland).
Of course, there is the "Latin department" - Chucho Valdes, Michel Camilo, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, and to a certain extent Michel Petrucciani (and Chick Corea and Danilo Perez have, at least in part, Latin elements in their playing that may have influenced me). Among the Israelis: Avi Adrian, and the younger pianists, Shai Maestro, Omri Mor and Omer Klein, whose music is always fresh and interesting. As an additional influence, which is not classified as Jazz, the Israeli composers - Alexander ("Sasha") Argov, Yoni Rechter and Matti Caspi. "

Q: Ten years, three albums. How did you decide when to release an album?
A: "It was a few years after I returned to active playing and performances, and I felt that this was the right time for me, as well as an opportunity to expose and "reveal to the world" a few original compositions I created at that time, In addition to that, in all albums, I tried to create a complete saying, something that is more than just a collection of individual tunes. In additon, there is the important task of selecting musicians who I believe will serve well my music as I "hear it in my head ".

Q: What is your attitude toward the solo album?
A: "An entire album, which has only piano solo tunes, is a very challenging task. in my opinion. On one hand - in solo playing there is a great deal of freedom to express oneself in a completely personal way as the player does not have to coordinate his playing with the other musicians. On the other hand, he has the full responsibility for the outcome - all the musical functions (melody, rhythm, harmony) and all emotional development. It is much more difficult to perform all these functions very well and throughout the entire album, creating a complete, interesting, moving and stimulating musical statement. In "About Time", my first album, I allowed myself to perform the final piece, Bill Evans's "Turn Out the Stars", as solo piano, but it is still very far from a complete solo album ".

Q: Is a classic background (as you come from it) a "necessary condition" for making jazz musicians a more "complete" artist?
A: "Well, I am not sure... I thought so in the past, but now I do have mixed feeling about it. I see young musicians who have not been classically trained, and they do wonderful, creative, different and interesting things. In general, the way young musicians create their musical taste, and as a result their playing, is so different today, and much more "accelerated", so that such truths such as: "need to play classical music" seem to be questionable. May be it is not a 'Necessary condition' but it certainly has value and can add some depth to the musician. There is also the dimension of the method of training that is unique to he classical piano method: Technique, fingering, how to technically work on a piece and improve... Even today, when I study a new tune that entails some technical difficulty, I find myself using the same exercizing and practice techniques that I learned At the age of six or eight from my first piano teacher."

Q: Do you collaborate, or intend to collaborate with non-jazz musicians?
A: "Naturally, I am drawn to music that has a dimension of improvisation, that is, creating music while playing, but I am definitely open to cooperating with musicians in any style of music that will make me excited about the work and the musical result... It is a combination of the musical style itself with the performance quality of the fellow musicians, and the fact that I feel my (musical) voice affects the result. This may happen to me either when I'm performing by myself, or along with a vocalist performing Israeli songs or a Latin tune, which is not classified as "Jazz". Yes, I am interested in finding such opportunities. "

Q: From your point of view, how do you see the Israeli jazz scene and the Israeli audience?
A: "I guess my point of view is not different from the perspective of most jazz musicians here. There is a wonderful jazz scene in Israel - a lot of great musicians who create and play wonderfully, so it's fun to be able to make good musical connections, and find great partners for the music. On the less positive side - although there is a great audience for Jazz who is manytimes well acquainted with the scene and the music, the audience here is too small, in my opinion, for all the musicians who are looking for opportunities to perform. There are not many places that have a daily Jazz program, and this is probably a direct result of the size of the audience searching for this music.
I am aware that the audience for jazz is diminishing in number all over the world and not only in Israel. But I still think there is a big difference between here and Europe in this respect. I can give an example from the Czech Republic or Austria, where the size of the population is quite similar to Israel's population, and there, there are at least five Jazz clubs playing daily. And this is before you take into account there are other cities that are only 2-3 hours a far in the same or a îeighbor country. Compare this to Tel Aviv, where today there is only one club that plays jazz every night - "Beit Ha-amudim".
It's perfectly clear to me that in today's world, influencing the audience to attend musical performances is a function of my marketing as a single artist, as well as marketing and creating awareness by the whole Jazz community. I'm definitely not naive to expect the audience to fill the venue "automatically" without my/our effort, but when the number of places to play is so little, and a result of small audience potential for this music, this makes the marketing work and finding opportunities for playing somewhat sisyphean. "

Q: As someone who chose to live in Israel on a regular basis, unlike some of your colleagues, is this a move that harms the musical career? A: "It seems to me that it is important, and there are great advantages in playing abroad, at least for a few years. Many of the leading Israeli Jazz musicians have done so, at least at some point in their lives, and they testify that it has contributed immensely - both musically and in terms of contacts they created abroad - allowing some of them to continue playing in various settings abroad. Since I chose to study and work in Israel, it is hard for me to say from personal experience that this is a move that is negative to my career, but can only point to the experience of those musicians who did spend a few years abroad. "

Q: Do you have any advice for Israeli musicians who are just starting out?
A: "From the viewpoint of studying to become a professional musician, there is an excellent infrastructure of excellent schools and teachers in Israel. This, along with a lot of listening to music and a lot of playing with others, in organized groups in schools and in independent frameworks, will certainly bring young musicians to a very good technical level. With respect to the more substantial matter of managing yourself in the music world, and "finding your own voice", I can only suggest to musicians, to always look and opt to "do something" - this can take the form of self-study a new tune, compose a tune, initiate a musical project, which, in turn, will provide a trigger for creating music or a new arrangement for existing music etc. Eventually, it is this 'drive' which, in my opinion, determines one's satisfaction and success in the music world. "


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