Guy Mintus about his brand new trio production A GERSHWIN PLAYGROUND:
“After two albums of mainly original music, it felt right to take on the challenge of making a personal artistic statement through a canonic body of work. George Gershwin’s catalogue was a very natural choice as I have known some of the songs on this album since I was 10 years old. I am continuously astounded by how relevant, multi-layered and full of possibilities Gershwin’s music remains. For me, the definitive guideline in creating the interpretations on this album has been the lyrics.
Bringing these songs into my trio’s singular “playground” while telling the stories conveyed through each song in our own musical language has been a real joy. At times, we took a more poppy “singer songwritery“ approach, at other times throwing in some groovy middle-eastern elements or a meditative ”prayer like“ moments. Yet above all, of swing, playfulness and joie de vivre.
The cover of “A Gershwin Playground” was also heavily inspired by the lyrics as we created the playground from objects representing lyrics of different songs (“cotton”, “fish”, “hat”, “tea”, “tomato”, “lamb” and more). Along with those we’ve also incorporated classic game elements as well as objects that signify Gershwin, the trio’s history, past travels and my own personal history (in example the wooden horse I have since 3 years old).
Making a Gershwin album in 2020 as an Israeli musician who spent seven years in New York dedicating my life to the Black American art form called Jazz. In 1935, Gershwin refused to premiere Porgy & Bess at the Metropolitan Opera because the Met would not allow Black performers at the time. That decision by the composer ensured that the opera would only be presented with Black vocalists until this day. To me, this is a form of allyship and advocacy I very much stand behind.
The performance of Rhapsody in Blue is dedicated to the memory of the “Jewish Ex-Concentration Camp Orchestra” at the Displaced Persons Camps of Landsberg and Feldafing. My relationship with the piece is special to me as I have performed it for the first time with Bayerische Philharmonie at a concert commemorating 70 years Leonard Bernstein’s concert with the ”Displaced Person’s Orchestra. Since then, the piece, has become part of my musical DNA as I’ve got to perform it dozens of times in different formations including a solo performance at the salon of Jamie & Nina Bernstein, the daughters of the Maestro Bernstein.“
Israeli pianist and composer Guy Mintus is a true citizen of the world. Coming from a mixed heritage of Iraqi, Moroccan & Polish Jews, he is based between Tel Aviv and New York. He is constantly on the go, having recently performed in Brazil, India, Bulgaria, Switzerland, France, Germany and cities across the US and Canada. Guy is equally at home sharing the stage with jazz legends, composing for classical orchestras, collaborating with masters of traditional music, working with kids or guesting as a soloist with Ska-Punk band Streetlight Manifesto, with whom he performed at a sold out Beacon Theater show.
Guy’s music is a meeting point between different rivers of inspiration flowing freely into each other. He is a trained concert pianist with the energy of a rock-star and a jazz musician’s sense of adventure, and he’s unafraid to throw his native middle-eastern scales and rhythms into the mix. “Guy is a mad scientist, none does it like him” proclaimed Grammy winning artist Arturo O’Farrill, with whom Guy has performed several times at the legendary Apollo Theater.
The Guy Mintus Trio started with a need to create a musical home in which his different identities and influences can co-exist and come together as a unique, unified voice. The electricity between the three musicians is palpable, and has been described as capable of “taking the entire hall’s breath away” (Barka Fabianova, Full Moon Zine Magazine). The trio’s debut record has been selected as DownBeat Magazine’s Editor’s Pick and led to performances of the trio at NY’s Jazz at Lincoln Center, Winter JazzFest and the Montreal Jazz Festival.
The group’s sophomore recording, Connecting the Dots, was recently released on the french label Jazz Family. The album includes guest appearances by Israeli vocalist Sivan Arbel and saxophone legend Dave Liebman (Miles Davis, Elvin Jones). In 2019, the trio had debut shows in Turkey and Kazakhstan, and a European tour celebrating the new album.
A Gershwin Playground is Guy’s 3rd trio release and the first one in which he’s prominently exposed as a vocalist. This past July, the Guy Mintus Trio has presented the Gershwin Global Concert, an International Live Streamed Fundraiser in solidarity and support of Jazz Foundation of America’s COVID-19 Emergency fund. The event received support from leading jazz outlets as DownBeat, JazzTimes, Jazz Corner and Jazziz, reached tens of thousands of people worldwide and raised some very well needed funds as well as awareness to the important work of the Jazz Foundation.
Guy`s awards stretch from the Leonard Bernstein Award by ASCAP and the Bernstein Family Foundation to the Prix du Public of the Montreux Jazz Festival. His own and self distributed debut production A HOME IN BETWEEN was selected by the DownBeat’s Editor and was presented in concerts in the USA, Canada, France, Switzerland, Germany, Khazakstan with great success selling over 1000 copies at concerts. Guys’ sophomore album CONNECTING THE DOTS was recommended in the New York Times and presented at festivals such as the Paris Jazz Festival, Winter Jazz Fest and the Montreal Jazz Festival. Guy was commissioned to write for the American Composers Orchestra, the famous Jerusalem East-West Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and the Israel Chamber Orchestra among others. In 2018 he performed Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the Bayrische Philharmonie and worked in the sold out Jazz club UNTERFAHRT (where he was immediately booked for autumn 2020), and composed music for ‘Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles‘, the new documentary on Fiddler on the Roof by HBO director Max Lewkowicz.
Guy is also a passionate educator having taught workshops in numerous contexts, from the Royal Conservatory of Madrid to mid-western US universities to Refugee Camps around Europe. Most recently he released a semi-viral musical short film called “Can You Tell the Difference?”, shot at various Jewish-Arab primary schools in Israel that support the idea of coexistence.
He intends to concertize all over Europe in Autumn and Winter 2020 if CORONA permits.