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Yaron Stavi: Profoundly Bassist

Sammy Stein By

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Within a few years of taking up the bass, Stavi began to perform. He began when he was 16, performing with school friends, but his first professional performances came shortly after he met a man who was to become a friend and remain one of the influential people in Stavi's life— saxophonist Gilad Atzmon. "My real professional performances were at the age of 17." Says Stavi. "It was at that age when I met Atzmon and started playing with him. Today, more than twenty years later we are still playing together and I am so happy about it. When I met Atzmon, he was already an established musician in Israel and I was a young boy that was just about to finish high school. It was Atmon's guitarist at the time, Yossi Levy, who was on the jury at my music final recital exam in high school that heard me and recommended me to Atzmon. My first gig with Atzmon, with our band Spiel, was at the Red Sea Jazz Festival." This is a four day jazz festival held in Eilat, Israel featuring jam sessions, workshops and concerts. Stavi continues, "It was a dream come true for me to play on a big stage with incredible musicians in a big international festival. I will never forget it. After that I played a lot in the Israeli jazz scene and also took part in some rock productions and worked with Israeli singers. However, I always wanted to go away from Israel and live in Europe and at the age of twenty-one, I finally did it." When he plays, Stavi says it is difficult to put into words how he feels. but says he will try. He says, "For me, music is about communication between you and yourself, you and the other musicians, you and the audience and you and the music. There could be lots of emotions involved. In general I feel great playing music. It is an incredible feeling to play and communicate with people. When I perform I get a very special buzz which I only feel when playing. When it really happens, when the music grooves, when the communication between the musicians and the audience really works, it is so great. In these moments I feel that something beyond 'us' is happening. Some people call it spiritual. You can give it all sorts of names. What is clear is that the music itself takes over and we, the musicians, become its channel. We don't need to do it but more like let it happen and enjoy the moment."

Now that we had touched on the spiritual side, I asked Stavi about his take on life—if he had a philosophy. He said, "Well, that's a serious question. I guess that 'live and let live' is quite a basic thing. I wish more people would connect to that. I try to be positive about life and about music. It is not always the easiest thing but I guess it is the better option. I believe that life without art and therefore obviously music is not really worth living. I think that music is an incredible gift that we, musicians and music lovers, can enjoy endlessly. I believe in love, peace and communication. I think that if people would communicate more with each other the world would be a better place to live in. When it comes to music, I think that more than anything, our aim as musicians is to create beauty. I believe that we should find the way to express ourselves and play what we feel and what sounds best to us, and at the same time connect to the audience, excite them, give them a good time and something to enjoy. After all, art is there for us to enjoy and celebrate."

Stavi has played all over the world and in all sorts of venues, from tiny jazz clubs in rural parts of Britain to large concert halls. I asked him where the most appreciative audiences were. Stavi says, "I really can't complain at all and must say that I have been playing to great audiences in the UK and abroad for many years. I believe that there is no bad audience, but sometimes the artist is not good enough. I think that if you give a good show the audience responds. I'm not trying to be diplomatic here. I have really experienced great audiences in the UK, Europe, Asia and America. If you really push me I would say that audiences in Germany and Japan might just come in first place.

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