Take Five With Koby Hayon

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Koby Hayon:

Koby Hayon was born and raised in Jerusalem, Israel. While studying at the Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music in Tel Aviv, Hayon gathered experience as a guitarist with the DGK Trio and other notable groups.

In 2001, Koby moved to the United States, where he would earn his BM in jazz studies at SUNY, Purchase. There, as a recipient of the Ullendorff Memorial Foundation scholarship, Westchester Art Council, New York State Art Council, he studied with jazz greats John Abercrombie, Hal Galper, Todd Coolman, and Jon Faddis.

Hayon has since played in a number of venues throughout the tri-state area as the leader of a jazz trio, duo, and quartet. His renditions of jazz standards as well as his own compositions have earned him acclaim along with several weekly gigs in the New York area. As a sideman, he performed and toured throughout western New York and Canada, and can be heard regularly at the 55bar, Cornelia St. Cafe, Watercolor Cafe, DeTour, and other reputable New York clubs.

Most recently, Hayon has formed the Jazz Trio. Here, he fuses his heritage with his vast musical training by performing classic Israeli songs in a jazz setting. This combines two of the many facets of Hayon's musicality: a cultural legacy along with his malleable and innovative jazz technique. Hayon is about to record a new album in the Spring of 2009, with his original compositions, along with his acclaimed trio (with David Ruffels on bass, and Jerome Morris on drums).

As a sideman, Hayon played in countless bands, from Beatles rock cover band, and Dixieland to Swing Band, led by legendary Sol Yaged. The Sol Yaged Swing Band is about to release an Album, featuring Mr. Hayon on guitar.


Guitar, bass.

Teachers and/or influences?

So many, but the first three that come in mind are: Keith Jarrett, John Abercrombie, Bill Frisell.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

When I decided I didn't want to be a millionaire.

Your dream band:

I was fortunate to work with a lot of amazing musicians, and my ideal band, would be to keep one band as long as possible. A band feeling is reached only when the band is playing together for a while, and the longer the better.

Road story: Your best or worst experience:

Going to gig in NYC on a very laid back day, I was an hour early, (7:00pm, the gig starts at 8:00pm). I found the perfect parking spot in front of the club, (you can park starting 7:00pm), only, I forgot my guitar. Since there is no lack of guitarist in the city, I made it on time with a borrowed guitar.

Favorite venue:

55 bar, Sarah Lawrence College, and colleges in general.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

Gemini—first, because I just got it out. All the original songs but one ("All Around") were written since I arrived in New York (2001), and they all represent to me my NY experience. Every song has its own story, but all of them are a result of my New York encounters, and influences. This ranges from many people I played with, jazz masters I studied with and any other musical experience I was part of, in many different styles. I have more unrecorded music, but all the songs I recorded fitted in to one sound, along with the two cover songs.

"Norwegian Wood" is a song that I play in shows frequently, in a similar arrangement, but once I played it with this trio, it fitted the rest of the songs which ended up on this album, which is great, because John Lennon is one of my favorites.

The other cover song—"Galbi," was written by Aharon Amram, who is an Israeli composer (born in Yemen). This composition was written to the poem of Yemenite Rabbi Shalom Shabazi, and I performed in in 2009 in Nigunim Festival with Rabbi Jonathan Blake.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

Well this was a while ago, but without guidance, some of my first albums (which I randomly picked at a store) were Question and Answer by Pat Metheny, and Michael Brecker's self-titled 1980s debut. Those two were quite good luck, which I can't say on the third one, so, I will avoid naming.

Did you know...

I am talking a lot, so if I didn't say anything by now, is because I don't want you to know it.

CDs you are listening to now:

John Zorn Masada String Trio.

Desert Island picks:

The Beatles, Abbey Road;

Led Zeppelin, The Song Remain The Same.

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

Getting cheaper and cheaper.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

Form a unity between the musicians, not necessarily union.

What is in the near future?

Tour with my album Gemini, record another trio album, as well as record with my new coming international band.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:

Just a musician.

Photo Credit

Courtesy of Koby Hayon.

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