Oct 26, 2019
The Dream Thief is the first ECM release by pianist Shai Maestro as a leader, and it presents the Israeli pianist fronting the latest incarnation of his uncommonly interactive, atmospherically expansive trio. The group now features new drummer Ofri Nehemya, a fellow Israeli, and its bassist from the start, Jorge Roeder, a native of Peru. Beyond the trio, the album also includes several searching solo performances by Maestro.
It seems only appropriate that Shai be part of a major celebration of ECM's 50th anniversary on November 1 and 2. "ECM RECORDS AT 50" which will feature Vjiay Iyer, Bill Frisell, Ehtan Iverson (watch for a podcast interview with him shortly) and many more at the Rose Theater in New York City.
Maestro, who made his first ECM appearance on vocalist Theo Bleckmann’s 2017 album Elegy, made a name for himself playing in Israeli bassist Avishai Cohen’s popular band from 2006 to 2011. A resident of Brooklyn and a dual Israeli and American citizen, the pianist also played in star drummer Mark Guiliana’s quartet and has recently worked in a duo with saxophonist Chris Potter. After four trio albums with Roeder and drummer Ziv Ravitz, Maestro drafted Nehemya into the group, which gathered to record The Dream Thief at the studio in Lugano with ECM’s mastermind, Manfred Eicher.
The result is a quintessentially ECM record – the quiet, probing tones of the group: the intensity of instrumental passages, and use of musical colours to bring across what Shai so aptly calls the musical truth. The solo pieces – most notably his unique takes on the Israeli song “My Second Childhood” and the standard “The Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)” – show the growth Maestro continues to show as an interpreter. His compositions, especially the constantly shifting “New River, New Water”, are open enough to allow the trio room for exploration, but always have a fine sense of melody, recalling ECM’s ubiquitous Keith Jarrett. Bassist Roeder can have his hands full with music that stretches him in a number if different ways, but he always seems more than up to the task.
Podcast 707 is my conversation with Shai Maestro, as we discuss the making of The Dream Thief, what it’s like to record with Manfred Eicher on the ECM label, and what he learned from his tenure with Avishai Cohen, and from his continued association with drummer Mark Guiliana. Musical selections include “What Else Needs to Happen (For Ana)”, a tune dedicated to the memory of saxophonist Jimmy Greene’s daughter, who lost her life in the shootings at Newtown, CT; “Choral”;“New River, New Water”; and “The Foolish Things (Remind Me of You).”
The Shai Maestro Trio appears at the Jazz Standard in New York on October 29-30, 2019 with Special Guest trumpeter Philip Dizack. The group will play two shows each evening, at 7:30 and 9:30.