Five minutes...with Ari Hoenig

Five minutes...with Ari Hoenig

How did you get into playing the drums and become interested in jazz?

I started with classical piano when I was eight and did that for maybe five or six years. But I didn’t really enjoy it. I would try to learn everything by ear and instead of by reading it. I guess the lessons were too stringent for me, especially at that young age. So I ended up quitting piano, and when I was twelve my parents let me choose my own instrument. So I chose to play the drums. Rhythm was something that attracted me. As a little kid I was always banging on things. I have a picture of myself when I was three or four playing a little conga drum, which I still have. Anyway, when I was thirteen, I was basically figuring out how to play with the sticks, just getting started. I was listening to a lot of rock`n’roll and Top 40 stuff on the radio, which was a cool revelation. Then just before high school. I began attending a youth music program at the Clef Club, where I began learning jazz standards and began playing with other kids my age. That really got me interested in playing jazz.

You’ve developed a melodic approach to an incredibly high level on your two solo drum records. Does this approach come out in a live situation?

Sure. Some of the stuff is worked out ahead of time, but mostly it’s improvised.  And sometimes I’ll go out on a limb and not know where the pitches are, and I’ll just fall totally on my ass, which is fine. That does happen once in a while because I play a lot of rental drumsets when I’m out on tour. So often I’ll just tap the drums to know where they’re at pitch-wise before I go into a solo. It’s almost like being a timpani player in an orchestra.

Five minutes...with Ari Hoenig

Tell us about your trio? and how the line up came about?

Well, I met Or [Bareket] because he was a private student of mine from the New School. A few years after he graduated we were still playing together here and there and he told me about Nitai [Hershkovits] - who had just moved to town.  We started playing some sessions together and boom a band was formed.

Who are you listening to right now?

Billy Childs, Joao Bosco, traditional music from Reunion Island

What do you do to unwind?

Boating, kayaking and canoeing, and hanging out with my kids watching silent movies.

What has been your career highlight thus far?

Probably playing with Herbie Hancock at Carnegie Hall, although it was years ago.

What are you most looking forward to about coming to Melbourne?

Just being able to hang in one place for a while and have some laughs. Also looking forward to all the great Asian food there.

The Ari Hoenig Trio performs on:
Sunday 4 June
7pm and 9:30pm
The Toff in Town

You may also be interested in:
Monash University Jazz Futures feat. Ari Hoenig Trio
Tuesday 6 June, 6pm Melbourne Recital Centre, Salon

Artist Workshop: Ari Hoenig Trio
Friday 2 June, 1pm
Monash University Music Auditorium

Ari Hoenig appears courtesy of Monash University, Yamaha, and the Embassy of Israel.

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