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Subtly sailing along in a way that elicits an all-over feel-goodism, the title track for Yaniv Taubenhouse’s new CD, “Perpetuation – Moments in Trio Volume 2,” glows like a welcomed candle in the dark. Taubenhouse (trained in several instruments but ultimately drawn to piano) has written songs that melt away the anxieties and uncertainties of daily life. The CD was just released by Fresh Sound Records.

Slightly bouncy in a nod to the old-school head (perhaps borrowing some DNA from “Satin Doll”), Taubenhouse’s “Introspection” is generous and breezy, growing stronger in the second half until releasing a big sigh to wrap things up. “Pigeon House Blues” (cover your pate!) has the energy of an abundance of pigeons that inhabit his hometown of New York City. One can imagine the grey/sometimes white birds skittering, hopping on sidewalks, resting on city benches. The instrumentation is particularly phenomenal in this track as if the three are one. And even if you’ve heard “Brother Can You Spare A Dime?” enough to last a lifetime, it’s still amazing to listen to a really tight ensemble like this pull it off honoring its heirloom personality while adding a special sizzle that brings it into the present day.

How has your classical background informed your jazz playing AND composition today?

Playing classical music has brought me to paying closer attention to details and nuances in music. It has also influenced my jazz playing and composition in the way I approach harmony, polyphony, motif development, textures, dynamics, form, and shape.  

When did you form your trio and why did you choose these musicians?

The first time Rick Rosato and I played together was in 2010 and I was immediately blown away by his musicality and command of the instrument.

In 2013, after spending a couple of years in Arkansas and recording my debut album “Here from There,” I moved to New York and started playing with Rick regularly. A few months later I met Jerad Lippi through a mutual friend, and we played a session together. I was completely taken by Jerad’s incredible playing and his unique voice on the drums. Shortly after, I set up a session with Jerad and Rick and after the three of us played the first song together it was clear that this is the trio.      

Why do you feel you speak best through piano than any other instrument? 

When I was 4 years old, I wanted to be a drummer, so my parents bought me drum sticks and I was playing a drum set that I built out of random items I had in my room. When I turned six, my father, Eyal Taubenhouse, a guitarist and a mentor to me, suggested that I start taking piano lessons, saying it would be good for my musicianship no matter what other instruments I’ll be playing, and so I did. Inevitably, when I turned eight, I also started playing the electric guitar but somehow as the years went on, out of all instruments, I became most enthusiastic about the piano. By the time I was a teenager, I was dedicating all my time to the piano.  

Most fun and amazing collaboration ever?

One of the reasons I love living in New York City is that I get to collaborate with some of the greatest and most experienced jazz musicians in the world, learn from them, and listen to their timeless stories. Among many incredible musicians I’ve had the privilege to collaborate with, I truly cherish the time I’ve spent with trombonist Roswell Rudd who was such a deep musician and a beautiful human being. I feel very lucky that I had a chance to play with him and get to know him personally.  

Best time playing a huge venue or festival?

It’s always special to play at venues that have strong history behind them. One of the concert halls I had the privilege to perform is Salle Cortot in Paris, which was built and dedicated to one of the greatest pianists and piano pedagogues of the 20th Century, Maestro Alfred Cortot. The venue was built in cooperation with Cortot’s conservatory: Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris.

What are the small clubs you most enjoy where you live?

There are so many great jazz clubs in New York. One of my favorites is the Village Vanguard – the combination of its profound history along with the great sound of the room and vibe are always very inspiring to me.

When you play alone on a stage, is it a trance-like experience?

It depends on the piece I’m performing but there is absolutely something special about playing a solo piano concert. The piano can totally sound like a full ensemble by itself and yet the intimacy of a solo concert makes the communication with the audience very personal. 

How do you know you are “in the pocket” when you are playing as an ensemble?

When the trio becomes one.     

Is there a particular key you most enjoy playing in?

I love the openness and yet dignity of the keys of B, E, Db and Gb.

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How did the title song of your new release, “Perpetuation – Moments in Trio Volume 2,” evolve in your mind from a solo piano piece to you hearing it for trio and recording it that way?

I’ve always heard “Perpetuation” as a through-composed piece with an improvisation section in the middle of it. Arranging it for the trio enabled me to create more dynamic contrast between the different sections which I was looking for.  Also, it allowed me to introduce more textures to support a build-up towards a climax and then having an anticlimax while keeping the continuous/perpetual feel of it.     

How does this CD refer back to Volume One?

The approach and process of making the two volumes was similar as they both present repertoire we performed prior to going into the studio. While recording, the approach was to just let the music happen and capture those moments. We’ve also had the pleasure of having the same sound engineer and mixer, Robert L. Smith, working with us on the two albums, and although each one of them was recorded at a different studio, they both share a similar approach in sound. 

What was the most challenging track to produce?

Each song on this album has its own challenges so it’s hard to say which one was the most challenging. On my albums I always try to pick songs that are significantly different from one another.

Do you have a favorite track?

I have a special sentiment for “Ilaria” and “Fairytale” since I’ve spent the most time composing and tweaking those compositions before recording the album.

How do you honor classics like “Brother Can You Spare A Dime?” while giving it a fresh life?

The melody of “Brother Can You Spare A Dime?” is so strong that even while soloing and creating variations over it, I’m always guided by its core melody.

Where will you tour this CD?

Mostly in Europe and the US.

Best advice for jazz artists just starting out?

Be consistent and play repertoire that you are truly connected to. 

Other comments?

Thank you so much for featuring me on your blog!

For more information, visit http://www.yanivtaubenhouse.com/trio.html.

Photos courtesy of and with permission of Yaniv Taubenhouse. Top photo (c) Art M Altman.
© Debbie Burke 2019

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