“One of the most gifted pianists of his generation”: Shay Maestro, the acclaimed musician

“One of the most gifted pianists of his generation”: Shay Maestro, the acclaimed musician
“One of the most gifted pianists of his generation”: Shay Maestro, the acclaimed musician

For the jazz pianist Shay Maestro There is a formative musical memory from the age of 4-5, which accompanies him all the way. “I remember myself since sitting in the living room of our house, in Karmi-Yosef, and trying to imitate the sounds of the beautiful forest across the street on the piano,” he recalls. “Actually, I didn’t know how to play yet and I actually improvised sounds like they create music for movies, which is what I do today. In the highs I tried to imitate the rain, in the middle – the sounds of the animals and in the lows – the thunder.”

“That was the basis. About three years after that, I was introduced to jazz, when an album by the pianist Oscar Peterson, one of the greatest jazz pianists, came to us, in which he played some of the unforgettable works of George Gershwin. To my surprise, this album had two pieces with the same name When I thought a mistake had been made, the token fell to me when I realized that it was the same song painted in completely different colors.”

This is how virtuoso piano virtuoso Maestro, 36, began the leap into his international career, during which it was written about him that “he is. He does not get giddy about it, just as he does not get carried away when his name is mentioned in the same breath as the names of two of the jazz piano legends, Keith G. ‘Art and Chick Corea, after he releases his albums on ECM, the record company where the two recorded.

On Wednesdays of the week, Maestro will appear at the “Grey” club in Tel Aviv, for the first time with his New York quartet, which includes with him the American trumpeter Philip Dizak, the Peruvian double bass player Jorge Roeder and the Israeli drummer Ofri Nehemiah, “wonderful musicians with whom every performance is an adventure, During which we are like giving a massage to the music.” At the concert, they will perform excerpts from Human, Maestro’s last album by the hour, which appeared about two years ago alongside excerpts from his new album on the way.

The name of the maestro, whose every performance is a celebration in itself and “no two performances are the same for me”, was identified for years with the lively jazz scene in New York, where he sat for years, until, while visiting a homeland on the brink of the corona virus, he decided on “a moment’s decision “To finally return to Israel and emerge from it for performances around the world.

The journeys of Maestro, the brother of the double bass player Gal Maestro, did not start with music and as the son of a pilot in El Al he saw the world from the dawn of time. Following that Peterson record, he fell in love with American folk music and first and foremost with jazz, a music he delved into during his studies with Thelma Yellin, in a combined track of jazz and classical music. After five years in bassist Avishai Cohen’s acclaimed ensemble, Maestro set out on his independent path.

“I received a full scholarship to study at Berklee, in Boston, but I gave it up to concentrate on playing,” he says. “I’m self-taught by nature and that’s how I recently learned French by myself.”

Maestro released, as mentioned, his last two albums on ECM, “which for me was the fulfillment of a dream that accompanied me since childhood, with a legendary producer like Manfred Eicher, who, among other things, produced the albums of Chick Corea and Pat Metheny and through him I felt that he moved me Like…a ripple in the sea”.

We recently heard your wonderful music in “America”, Ophir-Raoul Greitzer’s acclaimed film.

“As someone whose range of colors in his music is wide, I also started to engage outside of jazz in composing music for films, which is the fulfillment of an old dream since as a child I tried to imitate the sounds of the forest in Keremi-Yosef on the piano. Not only cinema. I hope to compose for theater and dance as well.”

Finally, it is impossible to end a conversation with you without referring to your very obligatory last name.

“Here I was luckier than I was smart. Maestro is my last name, which originates in Spain. As a musician, it doesn’t mean that the name didn’t help me and in terms of my career it’s a kind of bonus.”