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An extremely thoughtful review of Yotam Silberstein’s “Next Page” CD from Modern Guitar magazine by Dr. Matthew Warnock…

Next Page is the latest release by Israeli-born and New York-based jazz guitarist Yotam Silberstein. The album is a mixture of classic Blue Note-inspired organ trio grooves, Latin and Brazilian rhythms and contemporary jazz harmony that combine to produce an album that is both entertaining and intellectually stimulating. Accompanying Silberstein on the record’s ten tracks are the highly accomplished rhythm section of Sam Yahel on organ and Willie Jones, III on drums. To round out the ensemble, tenor saxophonist Chris Cheek is featured on half of the tracks on the album, adding an extra timbre to the groups classic organ trio sound.

The tunes that Silberstein has chosen for Next Page are a mixture of original compositions and arrangements of jazz and Brazilian standards, including a captivating version of the lesser known Jobim classic “Ligia.” Silberstein’s writing style is a collage that brings together elements of ’60s era organ trio recordings, especially those of George Benson and Kenny Burrell, with a modern Kurt Rosenwinkel-inspired touch flowing through his melody lines and harmonic choices. Silberstein’s writing on tunes such as the opening track “Borsht,” a 5/4 swinger that brings to mind the sounds of a young George Benson playing alongside Lonnie Smith, and the more modern inspired tune “Jalastra,” which floats in and out of the realm of a Rosenwinkel chart, pay homage to these great players while remaining truly original works. There is a fine line that modern composers walk between channeling inspiration from those that have come before them and making an original statement, and Silberstein’s tunes are the perfect balance of both. His ability to draw compositional elements from some of the genre’s great writers and performers, while breathing his own unique harmonic and melodic approach into every melody and chord progression is what makes Next Page stand on its own merit within the catalogue of modern jazz recordings.

Not only is Silberstein a strong writer and arranger, his highly-developed ability as an improviser and accompanist also shines throughout these ten tracks. As an improviser, Silberstein intertwines classic and modern jazz vocabulary, feel and harmonic application in a manner that avoids sounding disjointed or out of place. One of the best examples of Silberstein’s ability to forge the old with the new is during his solo over the Charlie Parker blues “Cheryl,” where the guitarist draws from elements of almost every jazz era from the past 50 years while maintaining his own voice throughout. During the course of Silberstein’s 2:30 solo there are jazz-blues based phrases, hard-bop style lines, chord soloing in both a modern and traditional vernacular and plenty of modern harmony flowing through the guitarist’s lines. While many players invoke these influences in their playing, it is the manner in which Silberstein is able to draw the listener in with a familiar phrase or melody line before leading them into new and uncharted territory that keeps his improvisations sounding fresh and new.

Silberstein’s strong performance is only enhanced by the ensemble of world-class jazz musicians that he has chosen to accompany him on this album. Organist Yahel brings a strong sense of swing and chops to his solos and comping. Though he has the facility to tear up and down the keyboard at will, it is his restraint on tunes such as “Foolin’ Myself” that bring to light his highly developed musical maturity. The tune is taken at a tempo where Yahel could have streamed endless runs of 16th, or even 32nd, notes. Instead, he chooses to focus on developing short melodic phrases that he lays down right in the pocket. This creates a sense that the solo grew out of the tune and was not placed there as an afterthought, an approach that can sometimes be lacking in modern jazz recordings.

The drum duties on the album have been placed in the more than capable hands of the highly adept Willie Jones, III. Jones’ playing is always in the pocket and he possesses the uncanny ability to use a mix of sparse and busy textures while still remaining in full support of the ensemble. Never overbearing, Jones draws upon the full sonic realm of his kit in search of the right groove and timbre for that particular musical moment. Of note is the variety of colors he is able to draw from on the Latin-inspired tune “Ani Eshtagea.” During the tune, Jones lays back on the groove and combines his cymbal and drums in a manner that is never overbearing on the soloists, but that stands out as one of the rhythmic highlights of the album.

Next Page is a strong outing for Silberstein, who was recently honored by being chosen in the top ten finalists of the Thelonious Monk Guitar Competition. Accompanied by a first-rate rhythm section, and a stellar performance by saxophonist Chris Cheek, Silberstein melds elements of the jazz tradition with his own unique perspective on the modern jazz vernacular. The mixture of tradition and innovation, alongside strong ensemble playing and well-written tunes and arrangements, are an invigorating approach to the classic jazz organ trio sound.

Track Listing
1. Borsht
2. Foolin’ Myself
3. Ani Eshtagea
4. Cançáo
5. Blues for 007
6. Weekend in Mizpe
7. If Ever I Would Leave You
8. Jalastra
9. Ligia
10. Cheryl

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Open Secrets: A Triumvirate of Israeli Guitarists

It’s an open secret that Israeli jazz musicians are becoming a force on the New York scene, epitomized by three young guitarists, Gilad HekselmanOren Neiman and Yotam Silberstein. Each was born in the Holy Land, plays a blond Gibson hollowbody and boasts a strong sophomore release.

Hekselman’s Words Unspoken is a trio date with Joe Martin (bass) and Marcus Gilmore (drums), half standards, half originals, augmented on several tracks by Joel Frahm (tenor sax). Using a clean, lightly reverbed tone, his style alternates between glissed legato runs and hard-picked staccato tattoos, with punchy comp chords interjected between phrases, producing varied inflections and subtle contrasts. Playing fast and loose, impatiently pushing ahead, then pausing to catch the pulse, he leaves just enough space within his dense lines for a quick breath. The songs are tastefully harmonized and gently ornamented, aptly orchestrated across the fretboard. “Time After Time” features stop-and-go rhythm section counterpoint, “How Long Has This Been Going On?” is given a “Poinciana” bounce and Hekselman’s own “New York Angels” contains fine chord soloing.

Oren Neiman, at 31, is the ‘old’ man of the triumvirate, but his Frolic and Detour is youthfully original, a guitar-trumpet quartet – featuring Kenny Warren, plus Doug Drewes (bass) and Kenny Shaw (drums) – that mostly avoids traditional jazz idioms in favor of an aesthetic drawing on pan-Mediterranean folk and gypsy musics. In this all-original setlist, “Jerusalem” might be a Spanish funeral march, “Munch’s Child” a gypsy dance, “Points of View” an Italian wedding song, “Unshines” an Eastern European folk tune and “Lijiang” a lilting Congolese soukous. Gross characterizations aside, Neiman’s writing is both eclectic and unified, often featuring Warren’s Old World vibrato, doubled guitar-bass counterlines and unusual rhythmic accent patterns. Neiman’s style, treble-toned and introverted, accentuates singing, unpredictable melodies.

Yotam Silberstein came to New York five years ago and matriculated at The New School. For Next Page he enlisted Sam Yahel (organ), who punches out left-hand basslines as he digs an ever-deeper groove, Chris Cheek (tenor sax), a high-concept player with plenty of natural flow, and Willie Jones III (drums) for a mixed set of originals and covers. Silberstein’s style employs a dark, mid-rangy tone, bluesy bends and a swing-based rhythmic concept – along with out-of-key melodic detours and a penchant for hard-driving odd time signatures. “Borsht” is a soul-jazz ‘waltz’ in 5/4, “Weekend in Mizpe” floats a graceful melody over descending chords in 7/4 and “Jalastra” is moody and postmodernistic. The well-chosen covers include Charlie Parker’s off-kilter blues “Cheryl,” Jobim’s curiously harmonized “Ligia” and “Ani Eshtagea,” a serpentine minor melody in fast 6/8 time.


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Interview with Yotam Silberstein…

Published: 10 July 2009
Yotam Silberstein

A slender, wide-eyed young man entered the back room of an East Village wine bar called 10 Degrees on a recent Tuesday, lugging and unzipping a dark guitar case.

With the burnish on his orange instrument absorbing the soft overhead lights, Yotam Silberstein uncorked a swirl of Hebrew.

“Do my friends have seats in the main room?” asked Silberstein of the bar owner, motioning towards a couple on a nearby couch.

“Maybe in 15 minutes,” replied the owner, also in Hebrew.

“Al tidag” — don’t worry — said one of Silberstein’s seated friends. “We can sit back here.”

A Tel Aviv-born guitarist, Silberstein is one of a growing cadre of Israeli musicians living in the New York area. A soft-spoken resident of Prospect Park in Brooklyn, Silberstein will celebrate the release of his second album, “Next Page,” at the legendary Smalls Jazz Club on July 19.

“Next Page” is the long-awaited follow-up to Silberstein’s first album, “The Arrival,” which came out in 2003.

“The albums are similar, but it’s funny because when I listen to [“Next Page”] I’m very proud of myself. I’ve improved so much and I know that the next record will be even better,” said Silberstein (, who plans to record his next disc in the fall.

The band Silberstein commissioned to play on “Next Page” — saxophonist Chris Cheek, organist Sam Yahel, and drummer Willie Jones III — completed the recording in a single day, despite never having played together before rehearsing for the album.

“It took about five or six hours to record,” said Silberstein. “This band never played or performed together, but I’ve known all the players for a while, and it’s something I had in mind.”

Belying the band’s group inexperience is the disc’s cohesion: Yahel’s organ infuses “Borsht,” the album’s first track, with a warm, casual swing. “Ani Eshtagea” (“I will go crazy”), a Venezuelan standard long ago adopted by Israel, takes its frenetic cues from the cutting cymbal work of the drummer Jones.

The two tracks are call-outs to Silberstein’s heritage. He picked up guitar when he was 10, focusing at first on rock and blues. He gained entry to the Alon High School for the Arts in Ramat HaSharon, where he began the transition to jazz.

“I slowly started to get into it,” Silberstein said. “I had a teacher who got me really interested.” Under renowned instructors Walter Blanding and Amit Golan, Silberstein won a slew of local music competitions.

After high school, Silberstein embarked upon his first stint in New York City. Predictably, he spent most of his time playing and studying jazz, this time under the guidance of luminaries like Barry Harris and Kurt Rosenwinkel.

Before leaving for New York, however, Silberstein had auditioned to serve as a musician in the Israel Defense Forces. At 18, he returned to Israel to enlist for three years as a musical director, arranger, and lead guitarist. A 21-year-old Silberstein placed first in a national jazz competition in 2003, and qualified along with his trio to perform at the Umbria Jazz Festival in Italy.

Later that year, Silberstein released “The Arrival” on Fresh Sound New Talent Records. The album met with critical acclaim, and Silberstein began an extensive tour of Europe and the Middle East.

In 2005, Silberstein received a scholarship to study at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City. In September of that year, he was selected as one of the top 10 guitarists to participate in the semifinals of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Guitar Competition.

In four years of study — Silberstein graduated in May — he developed as a solo act and a sideman, compiling a résumé that boasts supporting roles alongside Roy Hargrove, James Moody, Peter Bernstein, and others.

Like a true lead player, Silberstein’s primary concern is promoting work as a leader.

“The gigs that I would like to get people to come to are my own,” said Silberstein, who speaks with a thick Israeli accent. “I’m trying to promote my [own] thing.”

Ironically, Israel has proven the most difficult place for Silberstein to sell his music. Although he and other Israeli musicians in Brooklyn have long been recording and collaborating, Silberstein has yet to find distribution for “Next Page” in Israel.

Digital copies of the album will be available on Silberstein’s Website, Amazon, iTunes, and eMusic, but fans in his homeland — including his own family — will not be able to buy “Next Page” in stores.

Lining the shelves in Israel, Silberstein said, is a project for another day. As he noted with a long exhale, “It’s hard to take care of so much stuff.”


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Zan Stewart on Yotam Silberstein “Next Page”…

Next Page
Yotam Silberstein
Posi-Tone Records

Israeli-born guitarist and composer Yotam Silberstein’s new CD is part spiffy organ grooves, part smart modern jazz feel. The exemplary organist Sam Yahel, drummer Willie Jones III and creamy-toned tenor saxophonist Chris Cheek are the welcome others. The leader’s “Borsht” is a comely waltz, with Silberstein displaying his warm, gleaming sound and weaving well-constructed lines into flowing musical stories. Yahel and Jones back with aplomb; the organist, especially, is another beguiling improviser.

A dancing lilt underpins Silberstein’s “Blues for 007,” a blues waltz, as well as his pretty “Jalastra.” “Weekend in Mizpe” is tender and sweet, with emotive Silberstein and Cheek; Jobim’s “Ligia” is likewise heartfelt. Charlie Parker’s “Cheryl” shows off the leader’s bebop acumen, and includes some riveting chordal passages.
-Zan Stewart



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A Review of Next Page from

By J Hunter

Next Page has been pegged as an organ trio disc. The problem with that is saxman Chris Cheek appears on five of the disc’s nine cuts. True, keyboardist Sam Yahel never lays out, but to completely dismiss Cheek’s role in Yotam Silberstein’s second release as a leader—even for simplicity’s sake—is to ignore a range of color that helps make Next special.

Simplicity is what this date is all about, as Silberstein’s unadorned hollow-body guitar work freely invites comparisons to releases from the heyday of Blue Note Records. In that light, when Silberstein adds Cheek’s multi-faceted tenor to the mix, one specific Blue Note release springs to mind: Grant Green’s Grantstand (Blue Note, 1961), where Green and then-employer “Brother” Jack McDuff teamed with tenor man Yusef Lateef and drummer Al Harewood to create that contradiction in terms, an underrated classic.

Like fellow countryman Roni Ben-Hur, Silberstein eschews any effects not available before 1965, which makes his waltzing opener “Borsht” an easy doppelganger for a lost track from Green’s prime. Silberstein’s licks have the same elegant, enticing quality that stood Green in good stead until his death in 1978. Willie Jones III keeps the drums minimal, giving his leader plenty of room to move; Yahel is right with Jones in the “Man Who Wasn’t There” contest, fading in just long enough to make a point before retreating into the background. Yahel’s attack isn’t as rich as McDuff’s, but the modern textures Yahel gives “Borsht” (and the entire date) is one factor that makes Next a 21st-century heavyweight, and not a wannabe dreaming of a long-gone 52nd Street.

Another 21st-century factor is Cheek, one of this generation’s more interesting reed players. On the Silberstein original “Jalastra,” Cheek displays the spare, site-specific sound he’s best known for. Between his work and Yahel’s own bubbling contributions, “Jalastra” is the most contemporary track on the date. Cheek’s initial appearance on Peter Tinturin’s “Foolin’ Myself” has an exaggerated quality that could be seen as parody; in actuality, it’s really just a latter-day approach to the piece that lets Silberstein launch a tantalizing counter before the tune’s first solo spot even arrives.

That’s not to say Cheek doesn’t get with the Old School program: With a little more fuzz, his solo on the lush ballad “Canção” could have sprouted from the bell of another Blue Note legend, Dexter Gordon. Yahel’s got a right to play the blues because he does it so darned well, as he demonstrates on the next great action-movie theme song, “Blues for 007,” and he puts a little extra swirl into “Ani Eshtagea,” a song from Silberstein’s childhood in Israel. While Jones seems to relish his support role on Next, he steps out in fine bombastic style on the out section of a sizzling “If Ever I Would Leave You.”

Despite all the Grant Green parallels, Yotam Silberstein isn’t piggy-backing on memories. He’s forging his own path with skill and style, and Next Page could lead to one long, good book.

Track listing: Borsht; Foolin

Personnel: Yotam Silberstein: guitar; Sam Yahel: organ; Willie Jones III: drums; Chris Cheek: tenor sax.

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Another AAJ review for Yotam Silberstein “Next Page”…

Yotam Silberstein began playing guitar when he was 10. His first interests were rock and pop, but five years later he began studying jazz. After he finished high school in Tel Aviv, Silberstein moved to New York City. He continued pursuing jazz and, over the years, has played with Kenny BarronAvishai CohenRoy Hargrove and John Faddis among others. Silberstein made his recording debut with The Arrival (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2004).

Here, Silberstein finds a comfortable niche in mainstream jazz. He has locked into the vocabulary with a well-timed sense of rhythm. His playing is persuasive, his notes eloquent and juicy enough to essay time signatures and shape the music tastefully.

“Borsht” serves up swing. Silberstein keeps the tempo in constant shift, accenting on his single note runs, his chords the shadow of his ruminations. It is a salivating start to the program that is made all the more ripe by Sam Yahel, whose legato lines on the organ stimulate the drive.

Chris Cheek plays with a deep sense of belonging on his solo spots. One of the most effective comes on the ballad “Weekend in Mizpe,” which basks in the glow of his tenor. Silberstein sets up a seamless tangent, biting down and then letting loose a flurry of notes. The parallels between him and Cheek are obtuse, yet convincing.

The hard bop of “Cheryl” sees the band is in its element, never faltering in the blistering pace it sets up. The three-way conversations between Silberstein, Cheek and Yahel are heady as they trade riffs and ideas. Willie Jones III is a crackling rhythm machine, the final cog in a well-oiled machine.

A solid performance from the band, and a mark for Silberstein on his continuing journey.


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CDs of Note: Yotam Silberstein “Next Page”…

Yotam Silberstein, Next Page (Posi-Tone)
Fans of Peter Bernstein and Howard Alden are likely to love this one, from a player of the next generation in the mainstream swing style, enhanced by his modern sense of harmonics and personal sense of phrasing. Yotam Silberstein grew up in Israel and his playing sometimes is colored by his Middle Eastern roots. The New School graduate and Thelonious Monk guitar competition semifinalist (2005) is joined on this session by Sam Yahel on organ, and Willie Jones III on drum, with Chris Cheek on tenor sax on five of the 10 tracks. So it is half organ-guitar trio and half a quartet project.

An array of originals are complemented by fresh takes on two standards, “Foolin’ Myself” and “If Ever I Would Leave You,” as well as “Ani Eshtagea,” a Venezuelan folk song performed by many Israeli singers. The latter tune and Silberstein’s energetic “Borsht” and reflective “Cancao “are standouts. This is a player fast on the rise. I heard him in April with Sylvia Cuenca’s band, and he deserves a close listen, whether with his own band or working with others.

Posted on write-up for “Next Page”….

Next Page is Yotam Silberstein’s debut release on Posi-Tone Records. Quite the smooth player, Silberstein’s guitar work has a creative flare relatable to Les Paul and a misty blues intonation that recalls of Greg Skaff. Born and raised in Tel-Aviv, Israel, Silberstein plays American style jazz as if he acquired it through osmosis. After serving his duty in the Israeli Army where he was a musical director, arranger and lead guitarist for 3 years, and after the release of his laudable debut record The Arrival on the Fresh Sound New Talent label, he received a scholarship to study at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City where he had first-hand access to American jazz music.

He became a regular on the New York jazz scene performing with the likes of James Moody, Roy Hargrove, and Greg Hutchinson to name a few, and the music on Next Page is fraught with these gentlemen’s influences. This is not to say that Silberstein has forsaken his heritage, but his creative talents lean towards a modern approach to making music and Next Page is all about taking jazz music further along its evolution.

In the recording, Silberstein is joined by Sam Yahel on organ, Willie Jones III on drums, and Chris Cheek on tenor saxophone. They are like-minded musicians playing what they like, and constructing harmonic forms that manifest a pleasing aura like the gently rolling frothy topped waves of “Borsht” which have a likeness to the classy swagger of Steve Herberman. The slow rise implemented by the guitar chords is like watching bread rise while baking in the oven. There is some kind of mystical occurrence going on here that keeps the listener’s ears fixated on every incremental movement happening in these tracks. The sensual stride of Cheek’s saxophone solos in “Foolin’ Myself” can bewitch even a savage soul, and the perky shimmies spackling “Ani Eshtagea” will have that savage dancing a tango on the ballroom floor. The Latin-flavored nuances embellish the track beautifully and keep the listener’s mind activated. The soft, foamy drools of the saxophone along “Cancan” whither with a bedtime feel, and the casual stroll of the guitar chords along “Blues For 007” heightens notes with a bluesy sensibility to take flight. The crimped saxophone lines and sprinting of the guitar chords through “If I Would Leave You” and “Cheryl” are inflated with buoyant skips, and the mellow mood of “Ligia” inspires one to take life a bit slower and enjoy the simple surroundings already there.

Yotam Silberstein creates solid American-style jazz in his compositions. Next Page is loaded with happy moods and classically beautiful tones that inspire one to see life is filled with joyful moments which activate the senses to feel positive


Borsht, Foolin’ Myself, Ani Eshtagea, Cancan, Blues For 007, Weekend In Mizpe, If I Would Leave You, Jalastra, Ligia, Cheryl

Artist’s Website:

Reviewed by: Susan Frances



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AAJ review for Yotam Silberstein “Next Page”…

The organ trio approach is one of the more drenched-in-the-tradition formats in jazz. From Wes Montgomery‘s Riverside recordings throughGrant Green‘s Blue Note sets up to Dr. Lonnie Smith‘s innovations, there’s always a feeling of timeless soulfulness to the grouping of guitar, Hammond B3 organ and drums.

Tel Aviv-born guitarist Yotom Silberstein, on Next Page, brings a reverence for that tradition, along with a hint of a Near Eastern tint, a nod to Bossa Nova, and a turn of the page in the American Songbook to go with his vibrant original tunes. Joining Siberstein is drummer Willie Jones III, organist Sam Yahel—who does his part to push the organ trio concept here, as well as on his own recordings and those with saxophonist Joshua Redman—with saxophonist Chris Cheek sitting in a several cuts.

The set opens with Silberstein’s “Borsht,” most certainly the only organ trio tune named after a Russian dish. It’s a relaxed, smooth-flowing and upbeat sound, with Silberstein displaying his clean, succinct notes in front of Yahel’s sweet whispering and Jones’ subtle bustlings, with ensemble gathering energy along the way. Cheek’s beautiful, hollow-toned saxophone joins the proceedings on a tune from Billie Holiday‘s songbook , “Fooling Myself.” The atmosphere here is lighthearted, buoyant and laidback.

Silberstein lifts a tune from his childhood with “Ani Eshtagea,” a Venezuelan folk song adopted by many Israeli singers. It’s a spicy, dance-inciting sound, with some of the guitarist’s hottest playing on the disc. “Cancao” is Silberstein’s tribute to Maurice Ravel, a step away from the organ combo soul into meditative beauty, with inspired blowing by Cheek.

“Blues for 007” opens with a stealthy guitar intro leading into the trio’s tribute to fictional international subterfuge. “Weekend in Mitzpe,” another Silberstein tune, celebrates Mizpe Ramon in the Judea Desert in Israel, and the American Songbook classic, “If Ever I Should Leave You,” gets a zingy, full-speed- ahead trio treatment. “Jalastra” is Silberstein’s dedication to the New York jazz scene, with Cheek’s saxophone singing with a gorgeous resonance.

Next Page, a nicely paced set, is a standout guitar/organ combo effort.