Avi Wisnia
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Avi Wisnia

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2005 | SELF

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2005
Band Jazz Singer/Songwriter




"WXPN Helen Leicht's Philly Local Pick of the Day: Avi Wisnia"

April 6, 2010; June 11, 2010; October 1, 2010

Philly native, Avi Wisnia, plays his own compositions reminiscent of a Brazilian Bossa Nova. Add in his soothing vocals and poetic lyrics and you’ve got something you’ve never heard before. Playing with acts such as Au Revoir Simone and local legends The Roots, Avi Wisnia has helped put eclectic Philadelphia music on the map. Living between Philadelphia and New York now, Avi has played both The Lincoln Center and World Cafe Live and participated in various music festivals and competitions. - 88.5 WXPN, Helen Leicht

"Indie-Music.com - Editor's Pick"

Clever songs, interesting vocals, hooky melodies!

Order up a cocktail at a swanky lounge in SoHo and tune into the sounds of Avi Wisnia as he and his band bring a clever twist to jazz-flavored bossa nova on his new EP Avi Wisnia Presents:. With piano chops that recall Bruce Hornsby and a voice that is reminiscent of the folk singer David Wilcox, Wisnia offers up seven tracks of witty and introspective cabaret songs.

The songs all have a fits-like-a-glove feeling to them. The grooves create a feeling that the band members are really listening to each other and the tracks have a sense of a live performance without sounding too spontaneous.

I really dug the last track, "Moving" where Wisnia steps out of himself and makes his piano breathe. His voice sings a very mellow and tranquil song while the piano fights against the time and the chords. This track really shows what Wisnia's band and his piano really can do. This is a very fun and witty EP.
- Indie-Music.com, Darryl Gregory

"The Big Takeover review"

January 15, 2009

“Like a cross between Dr. John, Professor Longhair, Ben Folds, Joni Mitchell, and early Billy Joel. But his approach is refracted through the prism of Brazilian bossa nova, occasional acoustic guitar folk forays, and ‘70s singer/songwriter fare—“I Wish That I Could Stop Writing Songs About You” and “The Back of Your Hand” are especially Mitchell-esque, and “Goodnight” sounds like Art Garfunkel doing jazz—then sings with a smoothly smoky voice that recalls Elvis Costello and Joe Pernice both in sound and delivery. Others such as “Sunday Afternoon” have that mellow, rainy-day bossa nova feel with words in the most wistful of English. A nice change of pace.”
- Jack Rabid, senior editor

"Event Pick: Avi Wisnia, Live at Joe's Pub - NYC"

September, 2010

"Jazzy singer-songwriter Avi Wisnia has a Ben Folds-y way of weaving stories into his piano-driven songs." - Time Out New York

"Rebel Spirit Music EP Review"

April 1, 2008

The crux of Avi Wisnia’s sound is familiar melodies and samples of classic lyrics and melodies, and yet his sound is somehow completely refreshing. Combining bossa nova with soul and jazz and adding startlingly clever lyrical turns, Wisnia creates his award-winning (CMJ’s Zig Zag Live competition, for one) sound. On "Something New," Wisnia paradoxically borrows something old, adding new twists to lyrics from the Beatles ("all the lonely people"), and Gloria Gaynor ("go on go, walk out the door"), and sampling the beat from "Girl from Ipanema," all to a toe-tapping beat. The bossa nova sound plays heavily into the stunning "Sunday Afternoon," which perfectly captures the vibe of the lazy weekend hours with its swaying melody and lyrics like "you take my hand and we stroll along / spread the blanket and reach with your eyes to the sky." Wisnia is at his best though on the lyrically brilliant "Rabbit Hole." "I hate the words you feed me / you hate how loud I chew / well it looks like I’m stuck in this rabbit hole with you," Wisnia laments. It’s an ultimately romantic song though, with the final line: "Where do you think I’m going / I’ll give you one clue / I’m going to bring the rest of my things back to this rabbit hole with you." If Wisnia’s sampling of lush, complex songs are any indication of what’s to come, listeners will be waiting eagerly for more. - Alyssa Rashbaum (MTV, SPIN, VIBE)

"Subba-Cultcha EP Review"

Feb, 2008

Gloriously summery jazz-soul fusion, awash with shiny pianos and smooth vocals – a little like an acoustic Maroon 5, but with more Bossa Nova, more attitude, and more talent in his little finger – the band is currently New York based, but expect them to come crashing onto our shores during 2008 – they have the talent to take Radio 2 by storm. And that’s a complement. - Chris Merriman

"Avi Wisnia in Concert - Live Music Review"

"Avi Wisnia specializes in Brazilian Bossa Nova and applying that sound to his own unique songs. This young, creative and good-looking musician brought his talents to The Electric Company stage on September 12, 2009. The Electric Company is obviously a rock and roll establishment--so Avi wasn't kidding when he said "I bet the this place has never had bossa nova played in it before!"

Avi presented a number of tunes from his debut EP "Avi Wisnia Presents:," two cover tunes and a few tunes from his soon-to-be-released full-length studio CD. Only his guitarist Toru Takiguchi was able to travel to Utica to play with him on this occassion, but luck was on his side and he invited up some help from some fellow musicians. He met a man on the street who represented VS Custom Drums, Vince Sperrazza, who came in and played drum on a few songs. He also told us that he had forgotten to bring a kazoo, and Vivian from the following band stepped up and played a kazoo solo for him. Avi played keyboards and a Melodica throughout the set--it all sounded fantastic, along with his terrific vocals. His original tunes offer clever lyrics and fascinating beats. I especially enjoyed "Something New," "I Wish That I Could Writing Songs About You," and "Rabbit Hole" from his first EP. The new songs sounded great--the new album is now at the top of my wish list! The biggest surprise of the set was when he said that he was going to take us back to the songs of the 90's and then launched into TLC's "No Scrubs"--I never knew that it was possible to take a rap song and put it to a bossa nova beat--and it sounded incredible.

I got a chance to sit with Avi, after his set, for a few minutes. He's been honing his craft for a number of years now and he made quite a few new fans at this show. This son of a rabbi from Jersey is destined for good things and a long career!" - Ran Waite Music, Ran Waite

"Synthesis Artist of the Day: Avi Wisnia"

Jan 22, 2008

Avi Wisnia reminds me of when I first started listening to lounge music. This is back just before graduating high school, fresh off a stint with thrash metal, and a bit burned out by its dueling harmonized guitar leads. I yearned for something a bit more mellow; music that showcased the sonorous voice of a veteran stage vamp or mustachioed crooner. Those smoky bar jazz yearnings have been reawakened by a 30-minute listening session with Avi Wisnia, and while my love of dual harmonized guitar leads has since returned, I gotta give it up to those performers who turn their vim and vigor inwards, and suggest where others proclaim.

Geez, that’s a real roundabout way of saying I dig on Avi’s lounge-y, honey-voiced jazz.

While, “Rabbit Hole,” the first song that popped up on Avi’s page, instantly struck me a G. Love & Special Sauce (hold the sauce, please) meets a Jonathan Richman that you can take home to your parents (you know, less bug-eye stare, more witty conversation), with a later-day Elvis Costello delivery. The winking jazz hinted at with that first track comes into full blossom with “Something New” and “Sunday Afternoon,” which drift along in a pleasant haze. I’m digging it. For those in the NYC area, check out his upcoming show dates after the jump. But first, acquire an appreciation for expensive cigars and fine single malts; that might be your best way of preparing for Avi’s music. - synthesis.net, Spencer

"It's a 'No Brainer': Philly Bands Rock for a Cause"

October 24, 2008

When Dov Wisnia, now 29, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2007, it was a scary time for his entire family. But the Wisnias received help and support from family, friends and the Brain Tumor Society in ways they couldn’t imagine.

“The support we received was incredible to see,” said Avi Wisnia, Dov’s brother. Understandably, the family wanted to get involved and give back.

So they decided to contribute with what they know: music. “There’d been an idea of doing a concert for the Brain Tumor Society kicked around for awhile, but it never materialized,” Wisnia said. “But as my family and I started to get more involved, we really took to the idea and wanted to make it happen."

The result is the No Brainer, the first-ever benefit concert in support of the Brain Tumor Society, on Sunday, Oct. 26 at Fuzion (460 N. 2nd St., Philadelphia). The event will serve as a kickoff for the Society’s Race for Hope, a 5k run/walk that will take place on November 2.

The family invited Philly musicians from diverse backgrounds to join Avi Wisnia’s Brazilian bossa nova-influenced band: Josh Joplin, Karen and Amy Jones, Ivy Chanel and Cowmuddy. The genres range from hip-hop to country-tinged rock. Nickelodeon’s Ryan Willard will MC the evening.

While the music is the highlight—and definitely the main attraction—it’s not the only thing. There will also be raffles, a silent auction with goodies from local businesses and opportunities to sign up to participate in the race.

Tickets are $20, and 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the Brain Tumor Society. To reserve yours, visit the No Brainer’s Web site. They’ll also be available the day of the event at the door.

The No Brainer runs from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and if you show up sometime during the first hour, your first beer is free. - NBC10 and DigPhilly.com, Sarah Baicker

"Avi Wisnia Wins Zig-Zag Live"

Nov 13, 2007

Avi Wisnia has won the second round of Zig-Zag Live, receiving a prize package valued at more than $14,000. The New York folkster—who is happy to play anything from a local gig to a wedding—is known to take apart popular hit songs, stripping them down to complement his bossa nova sound. The singer/songwriter, who performs in both English and Portuguese, self-released his debut EP last month and will celebrate it (and his win) at the Bitter End in New York this Friday.
- CMJ, Rachael Darmanin

"Local Artist Finds Original Sound"

March 23, 2009

Singer/songwriter Avi Wisnia is the son of a New Jersey rabbi, but his performances at the second annual Singer-Songwriter of Cape May Conference and Showcase March 27 and 28 will feature the classic sounds of the Brazilian bossa nova with “…pangs of soul, folk, jazz, and pop to create a new sound.”

But no one in Wisnia’s family is Brazilian or Portuguese.

“I just stumbled onto this music,” he said in a recent telephone interview. “I remember hearing ‘The Girl From Epanema’ and I identified with it.”

Wisnia explained that he took the classic Brazilian sound and fused it with music he listened to as he was growing up.
“Artists like Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, and Joni Mitchell,” he noted, “along with some contemporary artists like John Mayer and Norah Jones.”

He’s originally from New Jersey but grew up near Philadelphia. He now lives in New York City where he teaches pre-school music.
“Then I gig around New York and Philly at night,” he said.

He’ll be performing in Philadelphia at Fergie’s Pub, 1214 Sansom St. May 2. While in Cape May, he’ll be solo at The Brown Room Friday, March 27 at 7 p.m., and with his full band at The Boiler Room, Saturday, March 28 at 8:30 p.m.

Wisnia is the lead vocalist, and plays piano and xylophone. He studied music at NYU, and intended to compose and score music for movies.

“But I got into bossa nova,” he said. “I just dove right in on my own while at NYU.”
When he’s not working on his own compositions, he likes to listen to the classics, like Jobim, Joao Gilberto (husband of Astrid, lead singer on ‘The Girl from Epanema’) and their daughter, Bebel.

Most of what you’ll hear at his Cape May venues will be his original creations, since, as he noted, “That’s the nature of the festival. But I will perform some new twists on popular songs, too.”

When composing, Wisnia said he starts with a “taste of an idea.”

“The writing process is different from writer to writer,” he said, “and sometime from song to song. The really good ones haunt you. Sometimes I have to consciously sit at the piano and work it out, while other times, I can’t sleep because the melody and words just keep coming.
“One song—Rabbit Hole—wrote itself that way.”

His band will be recording and releasing their first studio album in the future, and if you want to get a preview of what you can hear live in Cape May at the festival, just log on to aviwisnia.com, where you can listen, purchase, and get a schedule of his appearances.

Not bad, for a sound he just stumbled onto.
- Cape May County Herald, Jim Vanore


Sky Blue Sky - Single (2015)
Maoz Tsur (Rock of Ages) - Single (2011)
Something New - LP (2010)
Avi Wisnia Presents - EP (2007)



Singer/Songwriter Avi Wisnia presents an eclectic mix of refreshingly original songs, finding inspiration in classic Brazilian bossa nova, acoustic American folk, 1950’s west-coast jazz, and contemporary pop. A wordsmith as well as a composer and performer, Avi’s clever lyrics give a knowing nod to those that came before, while his smooth vocals and deft piano skills assure you that this is truly something new.

Fans say it is Avi Wisnia’s live performance that really captures his musical virtuosity, his humor and his energy. Avi showcases his own music with unexpected arrangements, he reinterprets songs from the American song book and Brazilian bossa nova canon and he experiments with contemporary pop tunes from artists like Lauryn Hill, Bjork, Wilco and The Cure, stripping them down, taking them apart and reviving them with a new dynamic spirit.

In the summer of 2007, after earning an enthusiastic following, Avi gathered a few of his band members in the sanctuary of the New Jersey synagogue where his father serves as rabbi to record his debut EP, “Avi Wisnia Presents:”. In 2 days, 7 tracks were recorded. The CD was released in the fall with sold-out shows at The Bitter End in NYC, where Avi lived, and at The Tin Angel in Philadelphia, where he is from.  His debut full-length studio album, “Something New”, showcases him as a formidable talent and a true artist on the rise.  Produced by Grammy-winner Glenn Barratt (Melody Gardot, Amos Lee), the album features Avi’s signature songwriting supported by lush arrangements in a variety of styles.  The album also features prominent local Philadelphia musicians including supporting vocals from fellow songwriter Lizanne Knott.

Avi Wisnia currently lives in the city of Philadelphia. He and his talented ensemble continue to play shows across the country, sharing the stage an eclectic array of artists like The Roots, Ani DiFranco, Arturo Sandoval and Maroon 5, performing at such prestigious venues as The Kennedy Center (DC), The Hammerstein Ballroom (NYC), World Café Live (Philly), and in renown music festivals including SxSW and CMJ. Avi is the winner of several OutMusic Awards (2009, 2010, 2012) and was most recently named Outstanding Keyboard Player of the Year at the MoBucks Music Awards (2013) in Pennsylvania.  Avi has also won CMJ’s Zig Zag Live Competition, was named a finalist in Rolling Rock’s National Band Search, and gave a TED talk about “The Nature and Nurture of Bossa Nova”. The music video for “Rabbit Hole” was honored as an Official Selection at the Florida Indie Film Festival and The Philadelphia Film Festival.  His songs have been featured in movies such as ”All Dressed Up” and “Party on the 49th Floor” in addition to ABC, NBC and MNN TV Shows.

Giving back and creating community through music has always remained a priority. In 2008, Avi created The No Brainer Benefit Concert with his family, which continues to raise funds and awareness for The National Brain Tumor Society. He has organized and hosted events like the annual Make Music New York Festival, The Bent Compass Party (for LGBT artists) and The House of Tribes Fundraiser (for Habitat for Humanity). Avi works with students, from high-schools to pre-schools, encouraging a new enthusiasm for music through discussions, workshops and interactive performances.  Avi is also the creator of and ensemble director for The New York Megaphonic.

For more information, visit www.aviwisnia.com.

Band Members