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Take Five With Yotam Silberstein

Meet Yotam Silberstein:
Yotam Silberstein was born and raised in Tel-Aviv, Israel. He started playing guitar at the age of 10, focusing mostly on rock and blues.

At the age of 15 Yotam was accepted to the prestigious Alon high school for the arts where he studied jazz with such great teachers as Walter Blanding and Amit Golan. During his high school years Yotam won many local competitions and was heralded as a very promising young guitarist.

After finishing high school he relocated to New York City performing regularly and studying with jazz greats Barry Harris and Kurt Rosenwinkel.

At the age of 18, Yotam served his country by joining the IDF (Israel’s Army) where he served as a musical director, arranger and lead guitarist for 3 years. During his military service he gained recognition and began playing with many of Israel’s top jazz musicians

At 21 Yotam won the prestigious “Israeli jazz player of the year” competition with his trio, and was asked to perform in Italy at the renowned Umbria Jazz Festival.

The same year Yotam released his debut record on the Fresh Sound New Talent record label called, The Arrival. The success of his highly acclaimed album enabled him to extensively tour throughout Europe and the Middle East.

In August of 2005 Yotam received a scholarship to study at the New School for jazz and contemporary music in New York City. Yotam is a regular on the jazz scene performing in many of the city’s great venues with great artists like: James Moody, Curtis Fuller, Louis Hayes, Jimmy Heath, Frank Wess, Junior Mance, James Spaulding, Roy Hargrove, Pat Martino, Jorge Rossy, John Faddis, Greg Hutchinson, Antonio Hart, Slide Hampton, Avishai Cohen, Kenny Barron, Peter Bernstein, to name a few.

In September of 2005 Yotam was selected as one of 10 top guitar players to participate in the semi finals of the distinguished Thelonious Monk guitar competition.

In 2009 Yotam released his new album Next Page on Posi-Tone Records, featuring Chris Cheek on saxophone, Sam Yahel on Hammond B3 and Willie Jones III on drums.




Teachers and/or influences?
J.S Bach, Charlie Parker, Chico Buarque, James Moody, BB King, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Stevie Wonder, Keith Jarrett, Clare Fischer, Joao Gilberto, Guinga, Sonny Rollins, Chopin, Herbie Hancock, Maurice Ravel, Matti Caspi, Ryiad Al Sunbaty, Sasha Argov, Shlomo Artzi, Astor Piazzolla.


I knew I wanted to be a musician when…
I got my first guitar and started playing around with it. It all seemed so magical. Since then I’ve been unable to stop.


Your teaching approach:
It must be fun. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it.


Your dream band:
I really want to play with Stevie Wonder.


Favorite venue:
Playing in different venues in Russia has always been a very pleasant experience. People there are very appreciative of music and art. Also, playing in Israel, my homeland, is always special for me.


Your favorite recording in your discography and why?
I definitely feel very connected to my new album, Next Step, because it represents where I am now, and the band sounds great.


The first Jazz album I bought was:
Grant Green, Grantstand (Blue Note). I still love this record so much.


What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?
That’s for others to say.


CDs you are listening to now:
Albert King, Born Under a Bad Sign;
Chico Buarque, Uma Palavra;
Django Reinhardt, Classic Early Recordings;
Eddie Harris, With Jimmy Smith;
Farid El Atrache, King of the Oud.


Desert Island picks:
Changes all the time:
Antonio Carlos Jobim, Inedito;
Riyad Al Sunbaty, Ashwaq;
Sonny Rollins, A Night at the Village Vanguard;
Chico Buarque, Paratodos;
BB King and Bobby Bland, Together.


What is in the near future?
Working on a new record, performing with my band. I’m featured on a new recording to be released soon with the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni Big Band.


By Day:
Practicing, composing, gigging, reading, yoga, listening to music, cooking, watching movies, hanging out with friends, and mostly trying to figure out how to be a better musician/person.