World Poetry Celebrates Time Traveler Ehud Asherie from the US!
The World Poetry Café Radio Show was honored to feature the amazing Ehud Asherie on May 5, CFRO, 100.5 FM with hosts Ariadne Sawyer and Neall Ryon plus super tech Victor Schwartzman . Thanks also to Katherine Growdon for her great promotional work! To hear Ehud: CLICK HERE!
Pianist Ehud Asherie is a time-traveler in the jazz galaxies, zipping easily between the past and the future, powered only by his fertile imagination. He is a contemporary musician with deep roots. Some musicians approach historical material by copying early recordings, but on Asherie’s new CD Shuffle Along, devoted to songs from the 1921 musical of the same name, he turns venerable compositions by Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle into new, sprightly improvisations, losing none of their energy. The show “Shuffle Along,” with an all-Black cast, was revolutionary – it can be seen as the beginning of Black Broadway – a musical treating African-Americans as mature characters, not comic caricatures. Asherie honors them in music on this recording which will be released April 8 on Blue Heron Records. http://ehudpiano.com/music/
“Eubie Blake’s songs are amazingly fresh, even though they are almost one hundred years old,” says Asherie. “They are harmonically very open, creating a lot of room for musicians to play in. He was writing before jazz got really codified, so his music has none of the clichés we know. There are so many great tunes, as good as the more common standards, and I’m trying to bring some of them to light.” Although only “I’m Just Wild About Harry” is known in this century, these compositions quickly reveal themselves as the equal of Kern, with long floating lines that stay in the mind.
The Israeli-born Asherie is still in his thirties, but he plays with great maturity, the result of his apprenticeship at the Greenwich Village jazz club Smalls, which he discovered at age fourteen. He spent weekends there studying with jazz masters including Frank Hewitt and Jimmy Lovelace. He is now in demand worldwide as a soloist, sideman, and especially as a sensitive yet whimsical accompanist to singers. Recently, Asherie has studied Brazilian music, and his Friday-night solo recitals at the NYC club Mezzrow on West Tenth Street invariably offer previously unheard Brazilian compositions.
What makes Asherie different is not his superb technique and touch or his flawless swing, but his imagination. His stylistic approach draws on a deep knowledge of ragtime and bebop, and of contemporary piano. It’s a knowledge that emerges in every phrase, as he might hint at Fats Waller and Bud Powell, Art Tatum and Al Haig in a solo (on a piece by Vincent Youmans or Lil Hardin). But Asherie is never simply creating collages. His joyous investigations remind us that jazz is an energized continuum, where blazing stride piano, modern harmonies, and subtle rhythmic shifts coexist happily.
From the first notes of Gypsy Blues, Asherie emerges as a masterful improviser. His progression from phrase to phrase, from chorus to chorus, is always compositionally satisfying. Asherie is essentially playful, but nothing is merely for effect. He can dazzle with speed and dexterity, but he always serves the music. Every note rings, yet his sound is warm, not brittle. His lyrical music welcomes those who love melody, harmony, and swing. He can romp; he can be poignant, hopeful or witty. Whatever the mood, the effect is uplifting. He told jazz critic Tom Reney, “I love the music I play,” and his affectionate reverence comes through in every note – as does his willingness to take chances, the sign of his quirky, inquiring personality. With Shuffle Along he continues to create music that honors its origins but sounds fresh and personal. In 2016, a new production of “Shuffle Along” is scheduled to open on Broadway – a show about a pioneering show – but Ehud Asherie got there first.
“A master of swing and stride” (The New Yorker), Ehud Asherie is a jazz pianist who integrates the venerable New York piano tradition into his inventive style. Born in Israel in 1979, Asherie lived in Italy for six years before his family moved to New York. Though he began playing piano as a child, his passion for jazz came later-with a Thelonious Monk cassette tape and his first visit to Smalls Jazz Club. Largely self-taught, or rather, “old-schooled,” Asherie learned the ropes at Smalls, spending the wee small hours of his early teens becoming a fixture of the late-night jam sessions. Mentored by the late Frank Hewitt, Asherie began to develop “his virtuosity and his ear for clean, crisp lines” (The Star-Ledger). From Smalls to the Rainbow Room, from Lincoln Center to The Village Vanguard, Asherie has since worked with a broad range of musicians including Eric Alexander, Roy Ayers, Peter Bernstein, Jesse Davis, Bobby Durham, Vince Giordano, Wycliffe Gordon, Scott Hamilton, Ryan Kisor, Jane Monheit, Catherine Russell, Ken Peplowski and Clark Terry. Asherie has toured worldwide performing at clubs and festivals in South America, Europe, Asia, the US and elsewhere. His playing can be heard on countless recordings, including the 2010 Grammy Award winning soundtrack of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.
Beyond his dedication to jazz music, Ehud Asherie has also developed a passion for traditional Brazilian music. His appreciation and profound knowledge of the music, language and culture are the foundation of Asherie’s project entitled Bina & Ehud, a duo formed in 2003, with Brazilian guitarist, Bina Coquet. In December 2015 he toured Brazil with singer songwriter Manu Lafer and also performed solo at the ChorandoSemParar Festival in Sao Carlos, Brazil.