Rotem Sivan is a guitarist for the 21st century, with an international background and border-defying interests. From an early age, he has been influenced by a wide range of genres, including Baroque music and classic rock, Indian classical and Middle Eastern music. In New York City, Sivan quickly became an active player and started collaborating with acclaimed musicians such as Peter Bernstein (see this video of Sivan and Bernstein playing duet on “The Way You Look Tonight””), Ari Hoenig, Colin Stranahan, Paul Bollenback and Ziv Ravitz. Sivan was a prize-winner at the Montreux Jazz Festival and performed at the Sonora Jazz Festival in Mexico, the Bern Jazz Festival in Switzerland and numerous others. The Rotem Sivan Trio performs regularly at well-known jazz venues such as Birdland, Smalls, Le Poisson Rouge, the Bar Next Door, Fat Cat and more.
“Rotem Sivan is, with no doubt, the next guitarist of our times. He is a leader and a listener.”
“I am confident in Sivan’s unique abilities to transform the jazz guitar world.”
1. What or who inspired you to want to be an artist?
At first, playing guitar was something that I just did, playing songs around the bonfire. Later on I was exposed to some truly amazing guitar players such as Pat Metheny, John Scofield, and Christian Escoude. That exposure opened a door to a whole universe of sound, and I decided I had to explore it.
2) What was your creative journey that has brought you to where you are in your career today?
As soon as I decided that I wanted to become a professional musician, I knew I had to start from the very core of music – my ears. I started taking lessons in Haifa with Irena Gelfand. Later on I joined the music Academy at Tel Aviv University to complete my B.A in Classical Composition. During that time I started to make my first steps as a creative artist and experimented with classical forms and shapes as well as jazz tunes. Seeking inspiration, I moved to NYC to pursue a career as a jazz performer. I was privileged to receive a very generous scholarship from the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, which functioned as a springboard, helping me reach the local scene. Today I’m performing my own music with my trio in acclaimed clubs in NYC as well as venues and festivals worldwide. Jazz is composition in real time; it functions as a language that people have in common such as bebop, rhythms, and forms. I think that the more we are grounded in terms of our knowledge of these styles, the more we are free to create and explore new territory.
3) What do you need as an artist today?
Mainly, I’m looking for channels to allow me to expand and connect with people and audiences.
4) What creative project are you working on now?
These days I’m releasing my new trio album “For Emotional Use Only” on FreshSound Records. The trio includes bassist Haggai Cohen Milo and drummer Mark McLean. In music there are a lot of crossroads and I feel Haggai and Mark are always choosing the best path for the music.
5) Where do you see yourself and your career in 10 years?
I see myself doing the exact same thing only with more volume: connecting with more people, expanding my global reach, and collaborating with more jazz musicians as well as other worlds of sound.
6) What does it mean to you to be an Israeli artist?
Being Israeli is something I carry with me everywhere I go. The musical exposure we get is very wide and I feel it has a few disciplines within. There is the European classical music we nurture in Israel alongside the Middle Eastern and other pop influences we are exposed to from an early age. Moving to a new country forces you to ask yourself who you are and figure out how to present your artistic persona.
7) What does it mean to you to have an organization like AICF supporting Israeli culture in the past 75 years?
AICF is providing critical support to the Israeli arts. Knowing that AICF is there and happy to help, truly warms my heart. In the world of music and art we need a bit of love and support from our community. I truly see how AICF is making art happen and its help and support is much needed.