|I started to play the clarinet when I was 12. I received my early formal music education in a conservatory and in junior high school in my hometown of Tel-Aviv. At about age 16, when I decided to pursue a major in Jazz at the “Thelma Yelin” High School For The Arts, I was instructed to “bring your brother’s saxophone or…any horn... but NOT the clarinet”. For the next 15 years I played mainly tenor saxophone and only brought out my clarinet occasionally.
While attending Berklee College of Music in 1996, I met Phil Wilson, a great musician and educator. He encouraged me to play the clarinet because he felt I had my own “voice” on the instrument. After moving to NYC in 1999, I started to play different styles of music in which the clarinet is part of their tradition: Brazilian Choro, Dixieland, Colombian and Venezuelan folk music, among others. For the last seven years, I have played saxophones less and the clarinet more. I am feeling the connection with the instrument I established as a child and enjoying it more than ever.
I decided to make an album to share some of what I have learned about playing the clarinet in various musical contexts. The songs I have chosen are songs I have loved for years. There are some old Israeli songs like “Hofim” (Beaches), “Nigunim” (Melodies) and “Ein Gedi” (a beautiful oasis in Israel), a great song by Israeli singer/songwriter Ariel Zilber called “Japanese Tale” (which has stunning lyrics by Ehud Manor), a beautiful ballad called “Quando Eu Me Chamar Saudade” by the extraordinary Brazilian songwriter Nelson Cavaquinho, a French song by Jacques Brel “La Chanson des Vieux Amants” (Song for Old Lovers - which I would like to dedicate to Yossi Banai, whose version of the song in Hebrew I can only describe as truthful) and song by the great John Coltrane, “Lonnie’s Lament”. There are and two original compositions of mine - “The Purple Piece” and “La Casa del Llano” (a place I ate arepas several times during a visit to Caracas, Venezuela) and Omer Avital’s impressionistic song “Cypresses”.
I have always associated the clarinet with sounds that are flowing, expressive and intimate….i.e…poetic. I made this album, and named it Poetica, to inspire others to share this association with me.