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Straight No Chaser - A Jazz Show

Welcome to Straight No Chaser, the Award-winning Podcast hosted by Jeffrey Siegel

Dec 31, 2023

Following in the footsteps of the giants of solo piano who have recorded for ECM Records, Call on the Old Wise is Nitai Hershkovits first record as a leader for the famous label, presenting his powerful pianistic ingenuity in a largely improvised solo setting. A veteran of Oded Tzur’s quartet (he appears on Isabela and Here Be Dragons), Nitai was also a mainstay of Avishai Cohen’s trio from 2011 to 2016.

The album is partially dedicated to Nitai’s former piano teacher Suzan Cohen, with whom he studied in Jerusalem and who according to Nitai is the mentor to whom the term ‘wise’ in the record’s title alludes. The pieces “The Old Wise,” “Of Mentorship” and “For Suzan” refer directly to her. But Nitai draws from wide-reaching influences, ranging from his work in jazz contexts and innovative contemporary explorations to his background in classical music. This immaculate balance of idioms gives rise to an abundance of colors and timbres, explored by a pianist, who has successfully forged his very own voice as improviser and shape-designer.

Born to a Moroccan mother and a Polish father, Nitai originally started out his musical path on clarinet before switching to the piano at age 15. Jazz and improvised music were the focal point of his musical investigations throughout his teens, with a particularly strong interest for the idiosyncrasies of Sonny Rollins. In this period, Nitai won several jazz competitions in the Tel Aviv area, before his deepened interest in classical music took shape, leading to studies in both jazz and classical piano. He has recently moved back to Israel, where he is involved with a variety of musical projects, including collaborations with electronic musician Yuvi Havkin aka Rejoicer and drummer Amir Bresler, who can be heard on their joint venture Apifera.

Musical selections from Call on the Old Wise include "Of Trust and Remorse" and "This You Mean to Me", both Nitali originals, and Duke Ellington's "Single Petal of a Rose."