Amir Segall is a prominent Israeli jazz ambassador pianist, composer, arranger and band leader. Since he arrived to New York, he has gained recognition as a unique and exciting pianists in New York City’s jazz scene, as he has already collaborated with renowned jazz musicians such as John Hebert, Ofer Ganor, Shay Zelman, Naama Gheber and many great others. Amir’s style draws inspirations from free improvisation, classical music, folk and jazz. He is known for his lovely lyrical phrasing as well as his unique harmonic concepts and shapes.
What or who inspired you to want to be an artist?
I can not recall a specific moment of telling myself “I’m going to be an artist!”. The more I got into music, the more I was inspired. The world of music, and especially jazz, is an endless ocean to dive into. There are so many ways to express yourself when improvising, which is why every musician sounds different even if they come from similar inspirational backgrounds.
In that context, i’ve reached the conclusion that music is a unique language. I mean, even if you don’t understand it, you can still communicate through it and this means a lot to me, motivating and inspiring me to work as a creative artist.
What was your creative journey that has brought you to where you are in your career today?
At some point in the process I’ve realized that my style is shaping itself in the form of a long-term piano trio of piano, bass and drums. When a group is playing, the music becomes a conversation rather than each player performing a specific role.
Through this type of work, I have been playing with bands and musicians that share the spirit of making music together. My band, ‘Sound Ambience’ has been working hard to play together with this state of mind, so that what each of us brings to the table will blend together. Our repertoire consists of my original compositions, free improvised material or tunes we adapt to the sound of our band.
I am pleased with the fact I have the opportunity to lead other projects, such as ‘Sound Ambience’, ‘Zzajeerf’, ‘Amir Segall Quartet’ and others, where I can perform my original music in acclaimed venues.
What do you need as an artist today?
Musicians today actually work as their own managers, booking agents and promoters, all at the same time. It is time and energy consuming, taking from the creative process and making it a struggle to remain a high-level, professional musician. Funds and support are things we all need.
What creative project are you currently working on?
I’m mainly focusing these days on writing new music for my trio, ‘Sound Ambience’. We are planning to record next month, after working on our upcoming album for the past year. It will consists of free improvised music, that is more inspired by nature, colors and stories. We also added some folk songs and pieces by Carla Bley to our repertoire. I like how they add contrast and musical possibilities to the band.
Recently I also started composing music for a quintet of saxophone, guitar, piano, bass and drums, as well as for a new solo piano project I started to compose and arrange music for.
What does it mean for you to have an organization like the AICF supporting artists and culture?
I know how difficult it is to get selected to receive an AICF’s scholarship. As an Israeli musician living in the U.S., this kind of support means a lot. It provides an incredible platform to support artists, and raise awareness about live music events and arts in both Israel and the world.