Tamir Hendelman and his trio bring jazz, classical, blues, standard, Israeli and Brazilian influences to Ravenscroft Hall.
For Hendelman, now among jazz’s top musicians, playing the piano has become a ticket to tour the world, from Israel to Los Angeles, from Japan to Thailand – and on April 16 at the new Ravenscroft Hall, 8445 E. Hartford Drive, Scottsdale for a 7:30 p.m. concert with his trio, presented by Lakeshore Music.
Hendleman was not particularly impressed the first time he heard a piano. Of course, he was an old out-of-tune spruce from his school in Israel and Tamir Hendelman wasn’t quite 6 years old.
“It wasn’t a very exciting thing for me,” Hendelman said.
This changed almost by chance.
“One of my earliest gaming memories was walking down a street in Tel Aviv and passing a music store,” Hendelman said. “When I walked by, the store clerk was playing a medley of songs on an electric organ. It sounded like an orchestra or a big band to me. I asked my mother to buy me one of these instruments and that’s how I started.
Hendelman played for years with a long list of big names, including Barbara Streisand, Diana Krall, Gladys Knight, Natalie Cole, the Jeff Hamilton Trio, Teddy Edwards, Jeff Clayton, John Clayton and Barbara Morrison, before forming his own trio. , in which he explores standards, Brazilian music, the blues, his Israeli roots and The Great American Songbook.
His Lakeshore Music audience will get a taste of it all on his set list, says Hendelman.
“Tamir is one of the greatest jazz pianists on the international stage today,” said Woody Wilson, Founder, President and Executive Producer of Lakeshore Music. “For me, the essence and elegance of jazz is the piano trio, and no one does it better than Tamir Hendelman.”
After beginning his keyboard studies at the age of 6 in Tel Aviv, Hendelman moved to the United States at the age of 12 and won Yamaha’s national keyboard competition two years later with a composition original. Concerts in Japan and at the Kennedy Center soon followed.
He then studied at the Tanglewood Institute in 1988 at the age of 16 and graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Classical Composition from the Eastman School of Music in 1993. He became the youngest music director of the Lovewell Institute, a national organization arts education nonprofit.
Most recently, Hendelman joined Graham Dechter on guitar, Jeff Hamilton on drums and John Clayton on bass on the album Major Influence, released fall 2021.
Hendelman’s rhythmic and lyrical music mixes jazz, world and classical influences with passionate and heartfelt creativity. Although he is classically trained and plays almost every genre, it’s jazz that really appeals to him, he says.
“It’s the immediacy, the sense of surprise, the collective of the group, being able to feed off each other,” Hendelman said. “It’s being able to take songs that have been made for decades and decades and invent something new with them.”
Two tunes, in particular, have resonated with Hendelman since his youth.
“My grandmother liked to sing in the house and she would sing old Jewish melodies and jazz standards,” he said. “I remember seeing American musicals on television when we met at her house on Friday nights, Singin’ in the Rain or My Fair Lady. Every Friday night we had a nice family meal. She used to collect trinkets and souvenirs from her travels. From a trip to Europe, there would be a plate she bought there. Always something. She even had babushkas.
“So I was in Alaska, a small town, and they had these little babushkas. It reminded me of growing up and seeing these things from his travels, and now I’m the one who travels to places that collects memories. ‘Babushka’ is also another name for ‘grandmother.’ So I wrote him a song called “Babouchka.” We’re going to play that.
Before he and his wife were married, Hendelman took her to Israel.
“I wanted her to get an idea of the northern area, the more pastoral area, with its little kibbutzim, its little villages,” he said. “We hiked and got lost. We made it through the moon howling coyotes and found a way back to the village. Everything was closed at the time and we needed a little help. I knocked on a stranger’s door, and they ended up inviting us to join their holiday dinner and spend the night. So I wrote a little song about the benevolent spirit and open-mindedness of northern people, “Israeli Waltz”. We will play that too.
Hendelman’s trio includes bassist Alex Frank and drummer Dean Koba.
“We are very excited to come to the new venue (Ravenscroft Hall),” Hendelman said. “We hear a lot about it from Tierney (Sutton, who performed the Lakeshore gig in February) and other people who have been there.”
Tickets are $60 (all seats reserved) and are available at theravenscroft.com. Students 50% discount (must present student card).
Coming May 21: Five-time Grammy winner Billy Childs, one of today’s most acclaimed jazz pianists/composers.