An innovative blend of jazz virtuosity
and Mediterranean flavors
“Riding Alone” is the culmination of a year-long project by founding members Assaf Gleizner (piano/melodic), Koby Hayon (Bass/Guitar/Oud) and Nadav Snir-Zelniker (Drums/Percussion). The result is a striking blend of Jazz, World Music, and Jewish Folk Music, exuding an aural representation of a Middle Eastern landscape.
Highlights of the album include the title track, “Riding Alone”; a composition by pianist Assaf Glizner. According to the group, this deliberate and meditative piece reflects the journey through which Trio Shalva came to be. “Contrary to our individual projects and our work as sidemen, this trio serves as an intersection of our individual paths,” says Guitarist Koby Hayon, “The places we grew up in, the music we were influenced by, our professional careers as musicians in Israel and New York, the year we worked together as a group: These all are key elements in the unique sound this trio has developed.”
Born and raised in Israel, each of the musicians eventually found themselves in the heart of New York, where they spent years developing their individual style and technique. In 2009, Assaf, Koby and Nadav came together for their first gig, in which they performed original compositions and arrangements of traditional Israeli repertoire. It only took one show for them to understand the serendipitous connection that was underway. In result, the three musicians moved forward as Trio Shalva, choosing the name for its representation of the Hebrew word for “serenity”.Trio Shalva has shared their music at renowned venues such as The Belleayre Music Festival in Highmount, NY and Caffe Vivaldi in New York City. The Trio is available for concert performances as well as presentations at festivals, synagogues, community centers and non-profits. Visit www.trioshalva.com to preview songs and to view upcoming shows.
Enjoy the ride.
Please contact us with questions and booking inquiries.
- Riding Alone on EjazzNews.com by Edward Blanco
Pianist Assaf Gleizner, bassist and guitarist Koby Hayon and drummer Nadav Snir Zeinker share many things in common: all Israeli-born, all eventually relocate to, and are now part of, New York and its vibrant jazz scene, and finally, together, they are Trio Shalva (the Hebrew word for “Serenity”). Riding Alone is their recording debut exploring a landscape that blends a touch of World and the Jewish Folk influence with a strong jazz foundation. The result of course is, a non-traditional session of music that nevertheless, draws you in with a measure of curiosity, unquestioned musicianship and pure charm. The jazz elements of the music come brightly through from the opening “Shir Ahava Bedoui,” (A Bedouin Love Song), an Israeli classic nicely arranged by Gleizner, midway through the piece the music changes and becomes a hard-driving number with exploding chords from the pianist accompanied with firm stick work and a dotting bass line to finish the tune. In quite contrast, “1-3-4-8” is a gorgeous straight jazz piece of music drawn from the first Waltz bassist Hayon composed in 2008. Though eventually accompanied by his band mates, the classical-bent title piece is for the most part, a solo effort from the pianist who also composed the tune. The World music influences come to bare on “Misirlou” (“Egyptian Girl” in Greek) as the arrangements enhance the Mediterranean rhythms while “Pizmon La Yakinton” (A Song for the Hyacinth), a famous Israeli lullaby is transformed into a delicious slice of contemporary jazz thanks to the drummer’s arrangement—who by the way includes a terrific drum solo here. The Israeli influence is also experienced on the last two pieces, “Sova” and Erev Shel Shoshanim” featuring Hayon on the Nylon string guitar and the pianist on the Melodica. The Israeli-born group taps heavily into their proud heritage in producing Riding Alone, yet this is definitely a jazz album of a unique nature as is Trio Shalva—a jazz trio with a flair for the music of the World.
- Riding Alone on AllAboutJazz.com by Dan Bilawsky This threesome tackles originals and reinvents Middle Eastern music of various styles in enthusiastic fashion. "Shir Ahava Bedoui" is born anew with a bouncy groove and funky piano solo, twisted rhythmic turns in the melodic line of "Kvar Avru HaShanim" keep everybody on their toes, and the traded melodic phrases between Gleizner's piano and Hayon's bass keeps things interesting as the odd-metered "Sova" takes off. They even manage to reinvent the Israeli folk song "Erev Shel Shoshanim" as the reinvent themselves, switching instruments to work in a guitar, melodica and frame drum format, but their mid-album performance of "Misirlou," which frees the song from the shackles of surf music serfdom and leaves it to roam in an arid musical desert, may ultimately take the cake.
- Riding Alone on JazzReview.com On “Misirlou,” the trio embraces tango and Latin music. Trio Shalva’s performance on this track, which at the start just begs for a belly dancer, begins as a waltz with Gleizner’s “Bolero”-type playing before everyone builds in momentum where his Latin jazz-flavored solo is propelled by Zelniker’s shifting, speedier accompaniment. As the solo continues building, the trio shows how they can also flat-out swing when needed.
- Riding Alone by Corey Hall Jazz Magazine Another nod to a jazz standard, “Without a Song” is made by Hayon on “Kvar Avru HaShanim.” Here, Trio Shalva strives for and reaches dramatic heights as Gleizner assumes a contemplative role while Hayon takes the lead. When Gleizner returns to the lead, this song/story-for-the-mind intensifies via a vigorous conflict of wills/eventual decision where his solo is elevated by Zelniker, whose maneuvers on the cymbals are at their most assertive. This performance reaches a total resolution when Gleizner’s solo ends and the ensemble transitions into a triumphant release. Zelniker then lowers the heat by switching to a relaxed backbeat.
- Scott Rowe blues-and-jazz-piano.com To me, at least, the test of a really good jazz pianist is whether or not they can keep my interest for a whole album's worth of material with just a trio. I can only think of a few: Earl Hines, Bill Evans, Bud Powell, Chick Corea and Kenny Barron all come to mind. I know I can't do it-the very thought of being the only "solo" instrument in a band gives me panic attacks. I am not the kind of player who likes being in the spotlight all the time and I have nothing but admiration for those who are comfortable with that and who can do it without boring everyone to death or seeming like insufferable egomaniacs. Assaf Gleizner, the pianist of Trio Shalva fills that role admirably. His playing is virtuoistic when it needs to be, simple and sparse when that is appropriate. Koby Hayon (Bass, Guitar) and Nadav Snir Zeiniker (Drums) provide a fluid, empathetic support to Assaf's piano while performing with plenty of passion and fire when their respective turns to shine come. The musicianship shown by this group is outstanding. What really makes this album interesting (besides the top notch playing) is the choice of material. Most of the tunes are of Israeli or Middle Eastern origin, including a Chick Coreaesque version of "Miserlou", the same tune made famous by Dick Dale and the movie "Pulp Fiction". The original tunes are also in the same vein and show a distinct Middle Eastern influence. Nothing too radical or far out as far as the soloing goes. You hear the usual Jarrett/Evans/Corea influences that are so predominant these days which is fine with me as I personally dislike playing that stays "outside" for too long. Gleizner plays clean and with clarity, he seems to know exactly where he is going. His solos are logical and make sense. He goes "outside" just enough to make me pay attention and want keep listening closely so I can see where it all winds up. The use of the Middle Eastern motifs is interesting and I would like to see more of it in the future. I have listened a little to Iranian, Turkish, and Egyptian classical music and see a lot of potential for jazz treatments of this type of music. It is a pity that the art of improvisation has been lost to Western Classical Music for the most part. It does not make a lot of sense when one sees that it is such a vital and dominant force in the music of other cultures. The marriage of Middle Eastern music and jazz makes total sense because there are so many similarities, both tonally and philosophically. Riding Alone is good, solid, highly listenable album that will satisfy both the hard core jazz buff and the casual listener. The balance of accessibility versus edge and virtuosity is well worked out here-I hope these guys achieve both the artistic and commercial success they deserve.
- Adam Baruch - JazzIs - Trio Shalva consists of three Israeli Jazz musicians living in the US: pianist Assaf Gleizner, guitarist Koby Hayon and drummer Nadav Snir Zelniker. This is their debut recording as a trio, presenting a tribute to Israeli music, which is an integral part of their cultural heritage. Of the nine tracks present on the album, six are Israeli standards / evergreens and three are originals (two by Hayon and the title track by Gleizner). In contrast to Hayon's excellent debut album "Gemini" released a year earlier, on this album he plays mostly bass guitar (with a few acoustic guitar parts), which basically makes Trio Shalva a piano trio with the pianist naturally being the main soloist. But the trio works as a close-knit unit with a lot of mutual respect, listening and complimenting each other. The approach is basically mellow, with emphasis on melody, but the improvisations are interesting and the level of musicianship excellent at all times. Most importantly they manage to avoid being trivial, which is always the greatest danger, when playing standards. The album is appealing both to relatively inexperienced Jazz listeners, who can follow the melodic lines, and the connoisseurs, who can enjoy the sophisticated arrangement and the intricate tricks of the trade. The sound and recording quality are also excellent. Overall this is a very aesthetically pleasing album, which only gets better with repeated listening. Warmly recommended!
- MARC FERRIS - THE WHITE PLAINS PATCH - The musical group Trio Shalva obviously consists of three pieces. The term Shalva, however, means serenity in Hebrew. Consisting of Israeli-born musicians, the band will perform on Saturday night [April 16] at the Westchester Conservatory of Music to mark the release of their new disc “Riding Alone.” “Playing Israeli roots music puts us into a serene state of mind,” said drummer Nadav Snir Zelniker. “We’re from the same heritage so we enjoy coming together to play things we have in common.” Jazz is so popular in Israel that an offshoot of the genre, called “Falafel Jazz,” or “Hummus Jazz,” has sprouted. “Israelis are attached to the element of freedom in jazz,” said Snir Zelniker. “It’s a tense society with social conflicts, so we relate to the freedom and self-expression. Younger and younger generations in Israel are developing their talents in jazz.” Jews have contributed to jazz since the music bubbled out of New Orleans in the early 1900’s, including Mezz Mezzrow, George Gershwin, Benny Goodman, Stan Getz, the Brecker Brothers, Kenny G and new guitar sensation Oz Noy. The trio members’ families hail from different parts of the world: Snir Zelnikov from eastern Europe, bass player Koby Hayon from northern Africa and pianist Assaf Gleizner from Argentina and Slovakia. Some of their original arrangements rework Bedouin melodies, Hebrew folk and pop songs for piano, bass and drums. On their new disc, the musical motif of the song “Sova” is obviously not Western, while “Pizmon LaYakinton” sounds a lot more like jazz than the Israeli lullaby that inspired it. They also enjoy picking up different instruments. Bass player Koby Hayon plays the oud, a string instrument popular in Arab music. Pianist Assaf Gleizner plays the melodica, a wind instrument with keys that reggae artist Augustus Pablo built his sound around. And Snir Zelniker picks up a frame drum covered in goat skin and a doumbek, from Pakistan, a goblet-shaped metal drum that contains a tambourine inside just underneath the head. "Piano players are jealous of horn players because they can hold notes, or be so expressive with notes, so this is my way of playing a keyboard instrument like a horn,” said Gleizner. The three musicians attended SUNY Purchase College. With just a handful of other Israeli jazz musicians in the county, who also teach music and Hebrew within the community—it wasn’t long they eventually found each other and put the group together two years ago. These seasoned jazz musicians can be downright serene and mellow, lulling listeners into a trance, but they’re experts at dynamics and can bring songs from a simmer to a boil in an organic build up that can be jarring in its effortlessness. Due perhaps to their common heritage, they gel well, handing off parts and solos seamlessly. Their lush ensemble sound is greater than the sum of its parts and they kept their endings tight. At a recent performance at the Watercolor Café in Larchmont, Gleizner hunched over the keys and played several percussive solos. He pounded out a beat with his pinkies and thumbs extended, hitting the keys like he was playing the bongos and pecking out notes in sustained runs up and down the length of the keyboard. Hayon played a few melodic solos that worked the upper registers on his electric bass. His song “1-3-4-8” featured a Latin feel to the soaring piano solo and Snir Zelniker worked the dynamics, shifting from a backbeat into a syncopated rhythm when appropriate. In “The Years Have Passed,” a Sephardic song drawing from the Jewish heritage in Spain, the scales and meters threw Western ears a curve ball and at one point, just to keep it interesting, Gleizner played a note drawn from the minor scale. When they pulled out the acoustic instruments on “Erev Shel Shoshanim,” the group picked up speed after an extended oud opening. As the speed and the eerie melodica melody droned, Snir Zelniker tapped out sophisticated rhythms with his fingers on the doumbeck hitting the middle of the head to get deep sounds and playing the rim to produce higher pitched beats. In the final number, “Misirlou,” Gleizner did some heavy lifting as a soloist, slapping at the keys with an open palm on his right hand as if he were playing with a kitten and hitting the same note with four different fingers, coaxing a slightly different tone with each stroke. At song’s end, he pounded out a ragtime-flavored solo just before the band stopped on a dime. Just about every musician wants to “make it,” usually defined as becoming famous or making a living playing music. Trio Shalva knows that as Israelis, they can bring things to a higher level. “A lot can be achieved through the arts,” said Snir Zelniker. “I am constantly asked for my take on the situation in the Middle East or my take on the Palestinians. Everywhere I go, I’m an ambassador for my country and the music gives it another layer.”