Piano Jazz Sessions
Shahin Novrasli / Shai Maestro
Wednesday 2 May 2018, 8.30 p.m.
Since opening, the Fondation Louis Vuitton has hosted an exciting programme of concerts showcasing iconic pianists, both upcoming and established. In 2018, the auditorium is introducing jazz into this mix, with the launch of its Piano Jazz Sessions. Like its classical recitals, it will feature leading pianists in the genre as well as promising newcomers, with an eclectic range of compositional styles and sounds. This series of four concerts will run from the end of April to mid-May, reflecting diverse approaches and featuring both improvised and new works.
Part 1 – Shahin Novrasli
Part 2 - Shai Maestro
First half – Shahin Novrasli
Soon after its birth, jazz grew into an international musical language, carried around the world by radio and vinyl recordings, as well as live performances. Today, new talent is springing up in unexpected places, one example of which is pianist and composer Shahin Novrasli! Born in 1977 into a family of musicians in Azerbaijan, with a father considered to be the founder of “jazz mugham”, Novrasli continues to blend genres, and incorporates classical influences into his compositions. He has become a leading pianist on the jazz scene since the release of his disc "Bayati", recorded with the fellow members of his trio who are at the forefront of the New York club circuit: drummer Hari Hoenig and bassist Nathan Peck. Novrasli enjoys performing solo as well as working with others. For his latest release, “Emanation”, he worked with American, French and Georgian musicians. A performance by Shahin Novrasli takes the audience on an unmissable journey to the four corners of the world, with dexterity, tenderness and sweet sounds!
Second half - Shai Maestro
Propelled to the forefront of the international scene as he approached his twentieth birthday by his Israeli compatriot, bassist Avishai Cohen, Shai Maestro worked tirelessly between 2011 and 2016, constantly recording and performing. In 2009, he moved to New York where he consolidated his reputation on the jazz scene and met the musicians with whom he formed his trio, after leaving Avishai Cohen’s band. This second "family”, as he calls it, is made up of Peruvian bassist Jorge Roeder and Israeli drummer Ziv Ravitz. Having studied classical, jazz and traditional music, Shai is also a composer. Whether playing with his trio or alone, he strives to attain a rhythmic and melodic trance through the repetition of short musical motifs as well as spontaneous inspiration. There will therefore be an important element of surprise to his performance, and the presence of Shai’s colleague Shahin Novrasli in the first half is likely to lead to some emulation by these artists, which the audience will appreciate.
“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”.
© Alexandre Lacombe
Pianist and composer Shahin Novrasli has had the occasion to play some of the most big stages in the world, such as London’s Royal Festival Hall, the Montreux Jazz Festival, the Black Sea Jazz Festival, Prague’s Mezinarodni Piano Festival and numerous clubs and festivals throughout the United States.
Growing up in Azerbaijan, Shahin’s rare talent emerged from his country’s various compositional influences as well as its unusual and rich musical heritage.At the age of five, he began his classical studies at Baku’s notorious Bulbul Music School and then at the Hajibeyoy Academy of Music. At only eleven years old, he performed with the local Symphony Orchestra at the Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Hall.
Elegantly blending his classical knowledge, Azerbaijan’s traditional folk “Mugham” and his jazz influences, Shahin created his own unique and accomplished musical universe, among which he combines eastern and western cultures. A gentle wave of exotic melodies, powerful and sharp harmonies, capricious eastern rhythms struck by an American Jazz lightning, majestic and vigorous.With a solo project, a trio with Ari Hoenig and Nathan Peck, Shahin is today an icon for Azerbaijan Jazz and has received enthusiastic comments from worldwide critics and audiences.