Nitai Hershkovits

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Israeli pianist and composer Nitai Hershkovits is a stylistically wide-ranging artist whose style combines the post-bop traditions of players like Chick Corea with impressionistic classical and electronic influences. He initially garnered attention in the 2010′s playing with bassist Avishai Cohen, before moving to New York where he recorded with Ari Hoenig and Oded Tzur. His own albums have often showcased his collaborative partnership with producer Yuvi Havkin aka Rejoicer, as on 2016′s I Asked You a Question, 2018′s Lemon the Moon, and 2021′s Overstand. He made his ECM debut in 2023, showcasing his nuanced solo piano skills on Call on the Old Wise. Born in 1988 in Israel, Hershkovits grew up in a multi-cultural family with a Moroccan mother and a Polish father. He initially started playing the clarinet at the age of twelve, before moving to piano at age fifteen; soon after winning the Jazz Signs competition two years in a row. It was around this time that he moved to Tel Aviv to continue his schooling and study privately with noted jazz educators Amit Golan and Yuval Cohen. Along with his classical study, he fell under the sway of artists like John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins. He began improvising and writing arrangements, often working with the Israeli Conservatory in Tel Aviv. More study followed, including classes in music and theory with composer and educator Dr. Menahem Weisenberg and classical piano educator Amir Pedorovits. Accolades came his way, including four scholarships from the Israel-American Music Foundation, a 2009 Chase Scholarship award which he used to pursue his Bachelor’s degree at the Jerusalem Rubin Academy of Music. However, in 2011 he left school to accept a job playing in bassist Avishai Cohen’s trio. Together, they recorded several albums, including 2012′s Duende, 2013′s Almah, and 2015′s From Darkness. While with Cohen, he also began collaborating with producer Yuvi Havkin aka Rejoicer, launching an ongoing series of recordings blending jazz, electronics and sundry world music traditions. In 2016, he moved to New York City where he found a home playing regularly with artists like Ari Hoenig and Oded Tzur. That same year, he released his debut album, I Asked You A Question. Co-produced with Rejoicer, it featured Hershkovits on piano and vocals and included contributions by keyboardist/singer Georgia Anne Muldrow, guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, and others. In 2018, he released his sophomore album, New Place Always (Enja/Yellowbird), largely showcasing his solo piano chops. A year later, he returned the more stylistically cross-pollinated Lemon the Moon, which re-teamed him with Rejoicer, along with drummer Amir Bresler and bassist Or Bareket. Around the same time, he and Rejoicer also collaborated on the equally adventurous eponymous debut from their Time Grove Ensemble. A similar group with Hershkovits, Rejoicer, Bresler, and bassist Yonatan Albalak formed under the name Apifera. Drawing inspiration from composers like Ravel, as well as the space jazz of Sun Ra, they released 2021′s Overstand. Hershkovits took an equally genre-bending approach on his fourth solo album, 2022′s Imajin, again blending jazz, electronics, and classical influences. A year later, he made his ECM debut with the solo piano album, Call on the Old Wise. Recorded at the Auditorio Stelio Molo in Lugano with producer Manfred Eicher, it found him drawing upon his impressionistic classical influences. ~ Matt Collar