Ayelet Rose Gottlieb
Jerusalem-born, Montreal-based composer and vocalist Ayelet Rose Gottlieb is an explorer of sound and seeker of musical adventures. With an early classical background, Ayelet is an improviser rooted in the Jazz and Blues traditions. Singing in Hebrew, English and without words (using her voice as an instrument), Ayelet “blends Middle-Eastern traditions with wide-open abstractions.” (the Vancouver Sun)
Described as an intoxicating performer and a tour de force, Ayelet’s music implies pictures and palettes. She has performed John Zorn’s music at the Metropolitan Museum; Improvised at Carnegie Hall with vocal master Bobby McFerrin; In an ancient cave in the Israeli desert, she performed her Mayim Rabim song cycle, based on erotic biblical poetry; ETHEL string quartet and percussionist Satoshi Takeishi, performed her composition Shiv’a, reflecting on the process of mourning, at NYC’s WinterJazzFest. At the Vancouver International Jazz Festival she sang lullabies for all ages, in duo with pianist Anat Fort; Her newest song-cycle “12 Lunar Meditations: Summoning the Witches” features vocal master Jay Clayton, Turkish violinist Eylem Basaldi, guitarist Aram Bajakian, and a choir of 12 improvising vocalists.
As a teen, her mentor, Arnie Lawrence would take Ayelet and her peers to Ramalla, where he brought together Palestinian and Israeli musicians to converse in the language of jazz. Her upcoming release, “I Carry Your Heart” is a collaboration with his son, saxophonist Erik Lawrence, in tribute to Arnie. It features Ayelet’s most revered musical partners – her three children, 2yo twins and a 7mo baby at the time of the recording. Also coming up this May – Pneuma’s “Who Has Seen the Wind?,” Ayelet’s collaboration with three master clarinetists – Francois Houle, Michael Winograd and James Falzone. The quartet blends turbulent, contemporary electro-acoustic energies with gentler, klezmer-inspired gestures and jazz-infused improvisations, in a poetry fueled set. This release will be her tenth album as a leader or co-leader.
Ayelet has lived in twenty-four apartments, ten cities, five countries, four continents. Finally, she has made a home with her family in Montréal, where she founded “an Orchard of Pomegranates” – a series of house concerts and workshops by Ayelet and guest international artists, held in an intimate salon setting.
I am a Canadian clarinetist who embraces pretty much any music where the clarinet is present, or has a bit of profile or history. Although I am classically trained, I have not followed the traditional career path associated with the kind of classical training I came out of.
I studied at McGill University with Emilio Iacurto (the legendary, long-time principal clarinetist of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra) and at Yale University with Keith Wilson (whose contribution to the clarinet world is unparalleled). I've had the privilege of participating in masterclasses with some of the world's finest clarinet players, including David Shifrin, Richard Stoltzman and Alan Hacker.
It was Alan Hacker who actually opened the door for me to explore new technical and musical possibilities on the clarinet. Having been part of Fires of London and a close collaborator with composers such as Peter Maxwell-Davies, Alan's insatiable curiosity and deep scholarship inspired me to look for my own personal approach. Following a brief visit to his home in the UK in the late 80's I spent some time in Paris practicing and researching clarinet new music repertoire. At that time I still didn't know what I was going to do with my life, except that I had a deep desire to "make it" in the music scene. It was during this period that I discovered the music of Steve Lacy.
Steve Lacy's career actually began as a dixieland clarinetist, eventually shifting to the soprano saxophone, an instrument very few jazz musicians had investigated since the great Sydney Bechet due to its range, smaller embouchure and faulty intonation. Steve dedicated his life to bringing this instrument at the forefront of creative music (legend has it that he turned John Coltrane on to the soprano's expressive qualities). At the time I had one occasion of hearing him play live at the New Morning jazz club, and bought a newly released duo recording called "Paris Blues" (Owl Records, 1987) with the great Gil Evans on piano. Heading back to Canada, that was the only music I could listen to for quite a while, being transfixed by Lacy's and Evan's telepathic playing. It was the first time that I had found a jazz performance that rivalled with the finest chamber music making I was then more familiar with. It was a game changer as far as I was concerned. It opened the door for further exploration and discoveries; Anthony Braxton, John Carter, Jimmy Giuffre, all important figures in the development of creative music on the clarinet. It is interesting and deplorable to note that not once were these names ever mentioned in all my years of university clarinet seminars and lessons. It was only a few years later that he agreed to meet with me for one on one lessons at his Paris apartment. His main advice to me was to stick with the clarinet, and forge ahead with my musical thoughts and ideas, no matter how difficult the road ahead may be.
After a stint at the Banff Centre, where I worked on my technique and practiced improvisation (the centre has a great library with an extensive jazz and creative music collection), I relocated to Vancouver in the winter of 1989, where I began playing on the creative music scene and met many musicians who eventually became fantastic collaborators; Claude Ranger, Roger Baird, Tony Wilson, amongst many others. At the time, the New Orchestra Workshop Society was approaching its golden years, with the founding of the legendary Glass Slipper, the "go to" venue for creative music on the West Coast. The Vancouver Jazz Festival was well on its way to establishing itself as one of the most innovative international music happening, not only programming some of the biggest names in the business, such as Miles Davis and Wynton Marsalis, but also the most creative musicians on the planet; Cecil Taylor, Evan Parker, John Zorn, Dave Douglas, Anthony Braxton, William Parker, and a whole sleuth of European 1st generation of improvisors such as Misha Mengelberg, Han Benning, ICP, AMM, and the Italian Instabile Orchestra. It was at the 1992 Jazz Festival that I had my first high profile gig, my first band "Et Cetera" sharing the bill with the Steve Lacy Sextet!
As I was making my first steps in the improvised community, I also became involved with the contemporary music scene, collaborating with composers such as John Oliver and Paul Dolden, as well as freelancing with established organizations; Vancouver New Music, Vancouver Pro Musica. In 1992 I became a founding member of the Standing Wave ensemble. My activities in both creative music and new music allowed me to forge a strong profile, eventually expanding to collaborations with international musicians, and getting international touring opportunities. Some long standing collaborations were forged during that fruitful period, with luminaries such as Benoît Delbecq and Joëlle Léandre among others.
I have since been constantly involved in the advancement of creative music, pursuing collaborative projects with composers and musicians of all persuasions. My work continues to test the boundaries, looking for new vistas and connections with listeners everywhere.