36th Vilnius Jazz Festival. 12-16 October, 2022

Shai Maestro Trio


Shai Maestro - p
Barak Mori - db
Ofri Nehemya - dr

This is a true Israel jazz dream team that unites three outstanding talents eagerly awaited around the globe.

Shai Maestro, one of the most promising and talented pianists of his generation, formed his own trio with Peruvian bassist Jorge Roeder and Israeli drummer Ziv Ravitz in 2010. The trio recorded four critically acclaimed albums, toured the world playing up to 80 concerts a year, earned the reputation of one of the most interesting jazz groups of today.

However, Shai Maestro introduces different line-up of his trio to Vilnius Jazz audience. Prior to European tour the new team recorded The Dream Thief with which Maestro debuts in the famed label ECM. In this album the pianist collaborated with Israeli drummer Ofri Nehemya, who will side the pianist on Vilnius Jazz stage. Peruvian bassist Jorge Roeder will be replaced by Barak Mori, Israeli bassist – one of the New York jazz scene’s most sought after musicians.

Besides Lithuania, the trio’s tour itinerary involves Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Italy, France and Switzerland.

Pianist and composer Shai Maestro began playing classical piano at age five. He has graduated with honours from the Thelma Yellin High School of Performing Arts in Israel. In 2004–2010, he received an academic excellence scholarship from the America–Israel Cultural Fund for jazz piano studies. In 2002 and 2003, the pianist won the National Jazz Ensembles Competition Jazz Signs.

Maestro attended Berklee College of Music’s Five-Week Summer Performance Program in Boston, where he was awarded a full scholarship to attend Berklee full-time—an offer Maestro ultimately declined. Maestro’s intuitions proved right: just a few weeks later, the bassist Avishai Cohen, a long-time stage partner of Chick Corea, invited Maestro to join the Avishai Cohen Trio.

Maestro recorded four albums with the Avishai Cohen Trio, toured the world and played at some of the world’s most renowned venues and festivals, including Olympia Hall in Paris and the Vienna and Berlin Concert Houses, to name but a few.

At that time Maestro formed his own trio – a vehicle for his prompt progress and looming aspirations. “Hearing the Shai Maestro Trio is like awakening to a new world: a world of wonders, excitement, beauty, and uncertainty. Sounds of intrigue, expressions of joy, introspective thoughts, and heightened intensity all come to the fore (...) these stories are all gripping, exhilarating, and gorgeous in their own way” wrote All About Jazz.

“Even though we have been playing together for quite some time now, it feels like the beginning. I’m very curious to see where the road will take us,” said Maestro after the recording of the latest album.

Besides his trio, Maestro recorded for vocalist Theo Bleckmann’s upcoming album (ECM). Maestro has also received critical acclaim appearing on drummer Mark Guiliana’s Jazz Quartet’s album.

Today, Shai Maestro is included in the list of famous jazz pianists who have a lasting influence on jazz music, such as Keith Jarrett, Paul Bley and Chick Corea. In his virtuoso and melodious compositions Maestro mixes jazz with various influences, including those from his native Israel.

Bassist and composer Barak Mori has come to be known as one of the most exceptional and dependable sidemen in the business. By the age of 13 he was playing jazz on the guitar and electric bass. At age 15, Mori began his classical training on the acoustic bass.

By the time Mori had graduated from the Thelma Yellin High School of the Arts he had already played professionally at the world renowned Red Sea Jazz Festival, and toured internationally with the Young Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra. 

In 1996, Mori joined Israel’s most prestigious jazz band led by saxophonist Walter Blanding. Two years later, he received a scholarship to study at the New School University in New York.

Mori started touring in the USA with Eric Reed’s band. With it he played on an international Japan tour and the Cuba Jazz Festival, recorded two albums. 

Later on, Mori joined Peter Cincotti group. The group played festivals and venues around the world including The North Sea Jazz Festival and the Olympia Theatre in Paris, recorded two albums.

Since 2008, the bassist has been touring with renowned singer Madeleine Peyroux. Together they have performed at some prestigious festivals and venues across the globe including Nice Jazz Festival and The North Sea Jazz Festival, Queen Elizabeth hall in London, Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Olympia Theatre in Paris, the Opera House in Tel Aviv, etc.

Yet another stage partner of the bassist is the celebrated Israeli saxophonist Eli Degibri. With his quartet Mori recorded a number of albums and performed all over the world. The two continue to grow and flourish musically today.

The bass virtuoso has collaborated with Paula West, Jeremy Manasia, Peter Bernstein, David Hazeltine, Marcus Printup, Anat Cohen, Yotam Silberstein, Sam Yahel, Benny Green, Kenny Washington, Jim Rotondi to name but a few jazz luminaries.

Currently, Mori is working on releasing his debut recording as a leader.

Drummer Ofri Nehemya, the youngest member of the trio, picked up the drumsticks for the first time around the age of 3. Before long he became a diligent pupil of his father, a drummer.

Nehemya started taking classical and jazz piano lessons that gave him the basics of harmony and composition. At the age of 15, he entered Thelma-Yellin High School’s Jazz Department. From that moment he was mostly playing jazz music. At the same time, he was actively involved in the department’s jazz combos and the big band.

At the age of 16 he started playing with some of the leading jazz musicians in Israel including Erez Barnoy, Daniel Zamir, Ofer Ganor, Omri Mor, Amit Friedman, Amos Hoffman and many others. Soon he joined saxophonist Eli Degibri Quartet, where he sided Aaron Goldberg and Reuben Rogers.

However, by a curious twist of fate he moved to the USA. Following Berklee’s summer workshop he won a Full Ride scholarship for 4 more study years in Boston. Currently, he lives in New York.
In 2013, Nehemya started touring with a bass player Avishai Cohen, later joined bassist Omer Avital’s band and has worked with him ever since. He also collaborates with many leading musicians on New York jazz scene.

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