We still have to overcome the notion that a clarinet squeaks. People need to remember what a beautiful instrument it is, including in popular music.
Clarinet is an incredible instrument. It’s a great, expressive instrument.
The clarinet has always been my baby. I just didn’t know that for a while.
When I play the clarinet, I am 100 percent myself. It is as if it is part of my body. I can play whatever I think. Let me just read a melody and make it as sweet as I can.
I feel like sometimes I get even more goofy onstage than I am offstage. I’m not trying to make the music less than what it is. Even if it’s hard for me and I have to think about a lot of details, it’s none of the audience’s business. I don’t want them to feel that I’m having a hard time.
To me, music is a luminous experience. Whenever I’m immersed in it, life lights up for me, no matter what else is going on.
Whether it’s performing a concert with my quartet or sitting in with my peers, enjoying musical conversations at home with my brothers or hanging and playing choro with my friends – sharing moments in that bright space of music are the happiest times.
I flow between modern and traditional jazz, between samba and choro – all maybe in a week’s time.
There are a lot of Israeli musicians in New York because you want to grow and go onstage, and eventually you have to get out of Israel to do that because there aren’t enough places to play.
I was focusing on sax while at Berklee, but then I started to play Brazilian choro and Colombian music. I was doing more folkloric stuff on the clarinet because it works better. Finally, I realized I was working more on the clarinet than the saxophone, and I started to feel more comfortable on it.
Avishai my brother always says to the audience, ‘If you weren’t here, it would just be a rehearsal.’ So it’s important to me to acknowledge and engage them. I know that they are there for me, and I’m humbled by that.
I could never really figure out why people would live in a kibbutz. I’m such a city girl.
My father knew classical music very well. Driving in the car, listening to the radio, he could name every composer, every movement, what piece it was. I was fascinated by the way he recognized who wrote what.
I have an ambivalent feeling about the Israeli army. Growing up in Tel Aviv, being involved in the arts, the last thing artists want to do is fight.
With cab drivers, I always say I’m from Brazil. I don’t say I’m from Israel. It’s happened more than once that someone is blaming me for the government’s policy. And I say, ‘Listen, I live here. I’m a musician. I don’t call the shots.’
Clarinet is often associated with certain genres, like swing or folk music. I combine the old and new, using the clarinet as an expressive tool and not in one genre. I’m just happy that people are drawn to what I do.
I have two brothers that are musicians. My older brother, Yuval, is a saxophone player. My younger brother, Avishai, is a trumpet player.
I think maybe the only time I think of being a woman… is being on the road and making sure my musicians are fed and they sleep. ‘Are you OK? Do you need some water? Are you hungry? Can I get you a cookie?’ I’m not sure all the men bandleaders do that.
There’s always this joke that I say in Israel: people don’t really have discussions; they just try to convince the other people that they are wrong or they are right – they just try to impose their opinion on the others. Sometimes I think it’s easier to avoid talking about things and just make music.
Sometimes I get off stage, and I almost have no recollection of what happened. It’s almost like a trance; it’s very bizarre.
I’m working really hard to get the clarinet out of that hole, that Benny Goodman thing.
The clarinet chose me more than I chose the clarinet.
The best part about living in New York is that you are able to play with different people in different styles in the same week. It’s really part of who I am as a musical person. I try to incorporate everything that I encounter.
When I got into high school, clarinet was not really in fashion. Everybody had electric bands.
My younger brother Avishai was my first influence. He picked up the trumpet, and I listened to him. The way he played – with the half valves and the smears – made me want to play like him.
The clarinet is not so dominant in Israeli music as it is in klezmer. I heard klezmer when I was growing up, but for some reason I avoided it. I listened to Louis Armstrong instead. But the sense of melody is the connection between jazz and klezmer.
I definitely see myself as an international musician. When I play, I respect the source of the music, whether it’s Cuban, Brazilian or Israeli. I try to bring that to all of the music I play. Music has no borders and no flags.
My everyday life is not just walking around on clouds. But you have to give the really special things in life importance and not let the temporary things roll you off the road.
My parents never said to me, ‘Why don’t you go and get a real profession?’ And that really helped.
Influences at home, including classical music, were not all specifically jazz, but the family radio was always on… So there was always some connection to American culture, to American music.
My father had lived in the States in the 1960s for a while and came to love American Songbook material. Even today, he sometimes recognizes singers that I never even heard of, which is beautiful and inspiring.
Boston was incredible. I had some of the best experiences of my life there at Berklee because I met a bunch of other people who were at the exact same stage in life and interest as me. There were American and international students all wrapped up in the Berklee environment, where you basically did nothing but music 24/7.
My initial training was on the keyboard – mainly the great American songbook. In junior high, during the day, I was a classical clarinetist, but after school, I played New Orleans jazz and big-band music.
I focused on the saxophone ever since high school. It wasn’t until my album ‘Poetica,’ which I recorded in 2006, that I went back to the clarinet. It felt like it was waiting for me!
I prefer to solve conflict with kindness. That’s my first approach. If that doesn’t work, there’s always the alternative. I’m from Israel. I can tell a person what I think if I have to!
I’m helping people think the clarinet is cool.
I’ve always been attracted to multicultural music. It’s where the world is going.
Israel is a mishmash of other cultures. It’s like New Orleans; it’s a meltdown of other cultures.
I think music is one of the clearest ways to connect between people of all differences.
I like to listen to African music; I like to listen to Brazilian music that’s not just Choro. I love to listen to Radiohead, I like to listen to James Brown – any music.
Some old people, they remember that they used to play clarinet, and they remember the squeaks of the clarinet. But I don’t play like that.