© Alex Lacombe
“Hearing the Shai Maestro Trio is like awakening to a new world: a world of wonders,excitement, beauty, and uncertainty. Sounds of intrigue, expressions of joy, introspective thoughts, and heightened intensity all come to the fore at one time or another as Maestro,bassist Jorge Roeder, and drummer Ziv Ravitz open up and share themselves through the music . . . these stories are all gripping, exhilarating, and gorgeous in their own way.” Dan Bilawsky, AllAboutJazz.com
Pianist Shai Maestro was born in Israel on February 5th 1987. He began playing classical piano at the age of 5 under the instruction of Ms. Irena Krivatz. His first exposure to Jazz music was at the age of 8 while listening to Oscar Peterson’s records and particularly “The Gershwin Songbook”. “I couldn’t stop listening to that album. There was something about Oscar’s playing there… The combination of his light – crystal touch, Gershwin’s incredibly beautiful songs and the way the band swung got me completely captivated” says Maestro.
Maestro enrolled to the Thelma – Yellin High School of Performing Arts in Givataim, Israel, graduating with honors. While taking extended literature classes, Shai was one of the few students combining a major both in the jazz and classical departments along with his regular studies. Maestro later on continued his classical piano studies with Prof. Benjamin Oren of the Music Academy in Jerusalem.
After winning the National Jazz Ensembles Competition “Jazz Signs” in 2002 and 2003 and receiving excellency scholarships 2004-2010 from the America-Israel Cultural Fund for jazz piano, Maestro attended Berklee College of Music’s ‘5 week Summer Program’ in Boston where he was awarded a full scholarship to attend the full time (4 years) program.
Maestro never took this offer.
“Receiving this scholarship was a great honor, but some inner voice told me that it was not the right thing for me.. I began feeling the urge to either move to New York or to go to India and study Indian Classical music, which I had already started doing in Israel with master (Sanjey Kumar) Sharma. I felt that it wasn’t right for me to go to school at the time.. I felt like I wouldn’t find my place there”
A few weeks later, Maestro received a phone call from bassist Avishai Cohen (known for his long time collaboration with Chick Corea as well as for his successful band leading career) offering him to start collaborating together. Maestro joined Avishai Cohen’s Trio together with drummer Mark Guiliana where he played for 5 years around the globe.
“Since I was a kid, I have had this ‘sponge-like’ character. I absorb everything that’s around me… Being a part of Avishai’s group was the best school I could have hoped for”
Playing with Mr. Cohen from 2006 to 2011, they recorded four albums together (“Gently Disturbed, Aurora, Sensitive Hours and Seven Seas”) two of which are for Blue Note records. They toured the world intensely, playing at some of the world’s most known venues and festivals such as the The Olympia Hall, Salle Pleyel, the Bataclan Theater, Jazz á Vienne, Marciac Jazz festival, Cork Jazz Festival, Yoshi’s, Madrid Jazz Festival, Blue Note in NY, Ronnie Scott’s, Vienna’s and Berlin Concert houses to name a few.
At 2009, still during his time with Cohen, Maestro relocated to New York, where he currently resides. “The abundance of incredibly great, hard working and dedicated musicians that live and create in NY is overwhelming. There is so much to learn. The fact that you can share the stage with these musicians is the best school one can hope for and that’s what makes the difference for me”.
Since his move to New York, Maestro keeps a busy schedule, he can be found performing and recording with international artists such as John Patitucci, Theo Bleckmann, Jorge Rossy, Mark Guiliana, Donny McCaslin, Ben Wendel, Anat Cohen, Marcus Gilmore, Antonio Sanchez, Avishai Cohen, (trumpet), Avishai Cohen (Bass), Scott Colley, Ari Hoenig, Gerald Clayton, Justin Brown, Keith Carlock, Gilad Hekselman, Johnathan Blake, Camila Meza, Clarence Penn, Antonio Hart, Matt Penman, Harish Raghavan, Julian Lage, Jorge Roeder, Matisyahu, Kenrick Scott, Nate Smith, Nir Felder, Nate Wood, Jo Lawry, Will Vinson, Linda Oh, Joe Sanders among many others. Maestro and has recently recorded on Theo Bleckmann‘s upcoming album for German label ECM in collaboration with legendary producer Manfred Eicher as well as well as on Mark Guiliana‘s Jazz Quartet’s album “Family First” (Beat Music productions). He is a regular member in the groups of Mr. Bleckmann’s, Mr. Guiliana’s as well as Mr. Ari Hoenig. In 2011, Maestro left Cohen’s group to pursue his own career as a band leader. “It was the right time. I felt this burning energy inside that led me to continue my road and to take this difficult leap towards becoming a band leader”
SHAI MAESTRO TRIO
“… You owe it to yourself to discover the beauty that Maestro, Roeder and Ravitz make.” Peter Hum, The Ottawa Citizen
Shai Maestro Trio was formed in July 2010 in Brooklyn after a music session at Maestro’s practice studio. The trio members are Peruvian bassist Jorge Roeder and Israeli drummer Ziv Ravitz. All reside in Brooklyn. “Ziv organized a home session with Jorge, saying that he felt we all have to try to play together. And indeed, that session had this magic, this ’click’ that you rarely feel – the very basic feeling of deep mutual understanding”
This session marked the beginning of the Shai Maestro Trio.
Only a few months later the trio went into the studio to record their first album simply named “Shai Maestro Trio” for the French label Laborie Jazz. The album was received incredibly well by the public, media and peers. Intense tours followed immediately and the trio began traveling the world, playing 60-80 concerts a year. Sharing stages with Chick Corea’s group, Tigran Hamasyan’s quintet, Esperanza Spalding’s group and Diana Krall’s band, the band made a real impact everywhere they played.
“… As if to prove that the piano trio remains one of the most versatile and exciting formats for jazz today Israeli pianist Shai Maestro lit up the Halle 2 stage for a late-night set on Saturday that showed just how much he’s grown as a solo artist since his formative days alongside Avishai Cohen. While the rhythmic complexity of his former boss’s music remains, Maestro’s shimmering chords and dynamic build ups – always capped by whizzing piano and drum cross-currents from Ziv Ravitz – highlighted the pianist’s impassioned, emotionally rich compositions…” Mike Flynn, Jazzwise Magazine (April 2014)
“…Shai Maestro, obsessed with pacing, offers us dynamic music. The notes scroll in a continuous burst, his dialogue with his drummer is explosive, going from a ballad to offensive punk. Carefully avoiding engaging a riot of immature virtuosity, aptly named, Maestro imposes his style on the this thin line, sometimes romantic, but never in excess.” Louis Michaud, Les Inrockuptibles (June 2012)
In 2012 the trio released it’s second album – “The Road to Ithaca” also for French Label – Laborie Jazz, receiving rave reviews.
“The trio is constantly evolving. The music that we play is a reflection of who we are as human beings. Our mission is to blur the differences between life and music, and to try to express the rawest form of our being. I keep learning that music can contain everything: the beauty of our being, and also our “ugly” side. For me, it’s about presenting a full picture of the musician, unfiltered. I don’t wish to develop a career of presenting only beautiful pre-meditated music to the audience on the way to success. The three of us, Ziv, Jorge and myself are more interested in exploring the essence of our being, and to present that. Unedited, raw”. says Maestro.
Following that line of thought Maestro’s trio has released it’s 3rd and most recent album “Untold Stories” in October 2014. Received in open arms by listeners and the media (Notably by Downbeat Magazine, NPR and WBGO’s – The Checkout among others), the trio presents a combination of live recordings alongside studio work, the trio showcases it’s most mature statement so far. With Untold Stories, the third album from his trio, Maestro has turned the page and entered a new phase, taking time, fearing less, daring more, accepting the occasional stumble, and allowing the music to organically unfold. Constantly composing, arranging, exploring and discovering, Maestro will soon release his 4th album which will be his most ambitious project yet, featuring an extended group of musicians.
“Even though we have been playing together for quite some time now, it feels like the beginning. I’m very curious to see where the road will take us” says Maestro.