Every Friday, Jspace News partners with the America Israel Cultural Foundation to bring you an interview with one of the many Israeli artists they support throughout the world.
Jazz guitarist and composer Assaf Kehati arrived in the US in 2007 and after a short time he has made waves in the jazz scene by working with a host of legendary musicians. He has also performed in such venues as the Blue Note, in New York and the Tel Aviv Museum in Israel.
Kehati has recorded two CDs – A View From My Window (2010) and Flowers and Other Stories (2011). His compositions are inspired by the daily and trivial, yet wonderful, significant experiences of life: from a wintry, snow-laden view of Fenway Park from his apartment porch, to a girl seeking love in a land beyond the oceans.
What or who inspired you to want to be an artist?
I started playing piano when I was 10 years old. After one year of studying piano, I saw many rock bands on MTV and I wanted to switch to guitar. I started playing classical guitar, played it for one year, and then switched to electric guitar. At that time (when I was around 12 years old) I was already following some rock guitar idols like Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Guns & Roses, Metallica, and more.
What was your creative journey that has brought you to where you are in your career today?
I studied music in several places: privately, at my high school’s music department, at Rimon school, and at New England Conservatory in Boston (I got my Master’s there). Other than that, I was, and still am, spending countless of hours at home working on my ideas. On top of that, being able to play my music often for audiences and share the stage with people such as Billy Hart, Victor Lewis, Seamus Blake, Donny MsCaslin, and others, is really inspiring and teaches you a lot.
What do you need as an artist today?
I need to do more of what I’m doing: practicing, touring and playing with people that inspire me.
What creative project are you working on now?
Right now I’m thinking about recording my third album. I have enough original songs and my arrangements of jazz standards that I like to record and I just need to get some free time and start this project.
Where do you see yourself and your career in 10 years?
I see myself living in the USA, where I am located now. There is a very rich and fertile environment for jazz here. I also see myself playing around the world and sharing the love for music with audiences and students.
What does it mean to you to be an Israeli artist?
To be an Israeli is to be part of a great culture for me. A culture of hard working people and very warm and open ones. I feel that being an Israeli is part of my music, both as part of my musical vocabulary, and in my approach in playing music and meeting and working with people.
What does it mean to you to have an organization like AICF available in the art world?
To have an organization like AICF is extremely important to have since it is a serious institute that supports Israeli cultural institutions, Israeli artists and encourages excellence. Also, it is very important since it is a great layout for Israeli musicians to connect anywhere in the world with other artists and with audiences.
.ORG-Connection: The America-Israel Cultural Foundation supports artistic life in Israel. By encouraging Israeli artists and supporting institutions and programs, AICF makes a vital contribution to the cultural foundation of Israel and strengthens her relationship with America. To stay up to date with the AICF and all its events, check out its page on Jspace.