Jazz saxophonist and composer Sagit Zilberman has a concert at Vernissage Restaurant in Brookline this Thursday. On the eve of the concert, which promotes an important cause, we asked Sagit about her work, life, and what she calls her saxophone.
With this concert at Vernissage, you hope to draw attention to GYG (Global Youth Groove). What is GYG, and why did you get involved?
GYG is a non-profit organization in Boston with the purpose of bringing musical instruments and knowledge to Western Kenya, to places where there is no technical and pedagogic ability to study and play music at all right now. Also to bring together young students from Boston and from Kenya, to create an exchange of creative ideas about art, business and production and to help propel the Kenyan music industry.
I went to Kenya last July to meet with Kenyan musicians as a member of the GYG group of Berklee alums, students and high-school students from Newton with the GYG director Mr Sammy Lutomia and his wife. I was fascinated by their culture, hospitality and music, and also sensed the need of music instruments, theoretical knowledge and organized performances. I felt how I could contribute through my musical experience to help them develop their music programs.
I chose to tell about this project at the concert so more people from Boston will know it exists and may want to support GYG and also to inspire people to give back wherever they can. I believe it’s not enough to only do our own thing, especially in the arts. I believe we are a part of something greater, and we need to see each others’ needs and try to help and work collaboratively.
You’ve traveled throughout the world. What was the most challenging venue you’ve ever performed in?
On our trip to Kenya last July, our group performed at a competition of dancing and drumming groups in Western Kenya. It was the hottest, most humid kind of town-hall… there was no air. There were at least a thousand people sitting tightly next to each other in that hut. We had no amplification, we had a violin and acoustic guitar and organ that had lost its battery. The organizers of the group asked me to play a solo piece, and I played “KC Blues” by Charlie Parker. The whole place was quiet… for many of the audience members it was the first time they ever heard a saxophone. They listened to me as if magic comes out of my instrument. That made me realize how much what I’m doing is magical and important. It made a difference for me, and for everyone there. My life changed forever.
Does your sax have a name? A personality?
Hahaha… nope. There is not a big story here. My saxophone is a tool, a magical tool to express life, emotion, conflicts, growth and experience. I try to blow the air through it with the least resistance, and to make us a good team.
Have you ever revised your work during a performance?
Yes, all the time, that’s the meaning of jazz aka improvised music, the whole thing is one huge experiment, every performance is totally different for me and I try to put as much “present” and “presence” into it. Life is now, so I want to feel, enjoy and be an instrument played by the big celebration of creation.
How do you know when your work is done?
Every moment that I make the choice to do what I do with great passion, commitment and enjoyment. It doesn’t feel like work anymore, but a privilege to use my gifts and creative nature to communicate with people on many levels. I don’t want it to be done. 🙂
I’m excited about my summer tour. I’m playing with two European groups, and we will travel Poland, Germany, France. And I hope to make it to Kenya and help with founding the school there. I’ve been trying to raise funds/grants to pay for my ticket and stay. I will also go to Israel to visit my family.
On Thursday, June 14, 2012, 8 PM, Sagit Zilberman will perform at Vernissage Restaurant, where Cale Hawkins (piano), Galen Willett (bass) and Michael Cardone (drums) will join her to present her original music and jazz classics, as well as music inspired by her educational project in Kenya, featuring two upcoming African talents, Mr Bino Mbie (guitar) and Ms Wambura Mitaru (vocals).
Sagit Zilberman (Israel), is an International performing artist as well as a member of an educative project in Kenya, GYG, and a yoga instructor for musicians. She has recorded her debut album ‘Simply Love’ in 2007 with prominent Israeli musicians Omri Mor, Gilad Abro, and Rea Bar-Ness, and played as side-woman on three other albums. She graduated from Berklee College of Music in 2010, and now busy touring with two groups she is a member of: ‘PGR’ (Poland) ‘Caixo Cubo’ (Brazil). In April she appeared at the “Ethno-Jazz” music festival in Lviv, Ukraine and this summer she will appear at the well known “Jazz a Vienne” in France, and “Krakow Jazz Festival” in Poland.
Images: all images courtesy of the artist.