Sarel River

Sarel River


Sarel River is a versatile jazz composer and a spirited performer.spanning the jazz oeuvre from Bebop to latin, ballads to the avant garde, Mr. River has taken his cultural diversity, his education and his brilliant tallent and recorded two cds which includ all original composition.


Mr. River’s love affair with music began in his childhood home in Haifa, Israel, where he was surrounded by European classical music and opera, the most prevalent influences on Israeli listeners in the early 1960’s. Sarel learned to play the violin and spent every minute possible gleaning information from the recordings and radio to which he had access. When the pop revolution started to filter onto Israeli radio from England, Sarel began buying the new music and soon became a Beatles fanatic, captivated and motivated by their simplicity and lyricism. His interest broadened to include nearly every type of music that he could find, and he learned to play the

guitar at the age of eighteen. It was after his mandatory military service in the Israeli army that he was introduced to jazz by his first teacher. That fortuitous event instantly determined Sarel River’s musical path. Says River, “After that, it was all jazz, all the time.” River decided to leave Israel in 1989 to enter Boston’s Berklee College of Music, one of the world’s most prestigious musical laboratories. His move to the U.S. was prompted by Sarel’s belief that if you want to learn something, you have to go to the source. At Berklee, Sarel began an intensive collaboration with professor Jerry Bergonzi, the private teacher who encouraged and honed Sarel’s improvisational skills. He describes Bergonzi as “an unbelievable player and personality.” River would often show up early to class just so he could listen discreetly to what Bergonzi was saying to other students. Bergonzi’s influence, along with that of Larry Bione and Sarel’s other teachers, laid the foundation for Rivers’ philosophy as a performer, and a teacher. Says River, “What I learned at Berklee, which was almost more important than anything else, was that music is a language which evokes a mood. You have to create sentences, which in music are phrases with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Fancy licks are earned by masters like Scofield and Montgomery because the fundamentals of phrasing and melody are the basis of their vocabulary. “
River began to step out professionally while still a student at Berklee, soloing in concerts with The Boston Afro-American Artist Association Festival in Copley Square, and at the Lawrence and Alma Berk Recital Hall. After graduating in 1994, Sarel moved to Budapest with his wife while she attended medical school. In Eastern Europe, the jazz scene was just emerging from underground after the relatively recent demise of the Berlin Wall. At the time, people spoke little English, but Budapest was slowly emerging as a musical destination for the festival crowd. During the cold, bleak winter of 1995, Sarel began to teach, play sessions and write. One result of that experience is his unusual composition, “Budapest in 95,” which appears on 2 In One. Sarel returned to Boston after a year and within months, he relocated to NYC to pursue his career, while his wife remained abroad to complete her degree. River quickly became sought after on the Manhattan jazz scene, gigging on every session and live date that came his way, paid or unpaid. He has held fast to his commitment of showcasing his original compositions, playing gigs at Small’s and The Garage Café among other clubs .
In 2001, River contributed big band arrangements for the tribute to saxophone legend James Spaulding presented by The Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. Now an established performer looking back on his first decade in New York, he stresses the ideas he feels are essential to an artist’s development. Says River, “Everyone has to eat, but if you turn music into a grind, playing things you don’t want to play, with people who don’t interest you, you might as well be a plumber. You will lose, or never even develop, your edge. You have to free your mind from forms and limitations. You have to notate ideas and develop them. The most important thing is to find your own voice, to infuse your playing with your own personality, and to practice. Not to learn fancy licks, but to expand ideas. I like the challenge of taking a line and seeing how far I can go, how many variations I can create.”
When reflecting on the jazz he encountered and wrote in Budapest, River stated that everyone’s personal expression is influenced by his environment and experiences. Sarel River can make that statement with a bittersweet confidence about his newest release, Mr. Blue Eyes. The Mr. Blue Eyes of the title refers to Sarel and Daphne Sack River’s baby boy Ethan, who passed away from cancer in June of 2004, at the age of eight months. The idea for the title song came just two weeks before the baby’s sudden illness and death, as Sarel was looking into his son’s eyes one day, understanding for the first time in his life the meaning of “unconditional love.” In the grief and shock that followed, Sarel was unable to touch his guitar for several months. When he finally did, his project became a dedication to his f


I have relesed tow cds which was brodcast all over the east cost
1) Two In One
2) Mr. Blue Eyes

Set List

I can do 2 or 3 set 50-60 min each set most of yhe set include my original compositions I might do one cover song each set
the composition include
# Mount Judah On My Mind
# Stormy Tuesday
# Main Street Fugue
# Mr. Blue Eyes
# Waltz For E.J.
# The Power Of Your Smile
# Short Visit
# I-95
# Back Home
# Budapest In 95
# Song For Gary
# Home Alone
# Serenity
# CM
# Misery
# Two In One
# Moving
cover song include jazz stundard