Rotem Sivan Jazz Trio in Concert - 8th April @ Secunderabad Club

Rotem Sivan Trio – The Hindu

The Hindu/Metroplus

Telangana today

Times of India




     Jazz is a music that is partly planned and partly spontaneous. Jazz is a very technical form of music. It is a musical art form.

     The art of a musician in jazz is their ability to play freely and inventively within the rigid structure of the music. Jazz has a disciplined musical structure and uses sophisticated harmonies and progressions in its many styles and genres within which improvisation takes place.

     Good jazz musicians know how to improvise without getting lost in the improvisation. In a band, jazz musicians must together know how to bring each piece of invented music to a fitting conclusion within the chords and rhythmic changes of the tune that they are playing and make a meaningful whole out of it.

Jazz usually, but not always, has a swinging rhythm that characterizes jazz as Jazz. And Jazz musicians also play certain seemingly dissonant notes and harmonies in unusual ways during the course of the music that is typical of jazz.

     So jazz is a very special musical art form that is quite often challenging to the listener. Jazz is also an involving music, and so the listener is better served by being an active listener and by being aware of what they are listening to. Jazz is listening music and so it does require certain intelligence from a listener to relate to it. Jazz therefore is played by highly intelligent, highly proficient, and very technically advanced musicians, and this was indisputably the case with the Rotem Sivan Trio.

     Rotem Sivan, the guitarist, leader, composer and arranger, is originally from Israel but settled in New York, and he has just finished his term on the faculty of   Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music in Chennai.  Mishko M’Ba, the bass player was born in France, but lives in mainly in Pondicherry when not shuttling between France and Reunion. And Karina Colis, Drums and Vocal, is from Mexico, but is based in New York and is now in India as faculty in the Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music in Chennai.

     On listening to the trio, we would never believe that the three musicians met and got together only recently, in India. Yet the music was energetic, entertaining and inventive. The harmonic and rhythmic changes were complex and interestingly created. And all the compositions were tightly arranged and structured. But the Trio was so in-sync that they were in a ‘zone of empathy’. Each musician was ‘in the zone’, mindful and aware of what each was doing; each receiving and despatching secret messages to and from each other to keep the musical ideas flowing. They were so tuned-in to the music that didn’t have to look at each other to have a complete understanding of what each was doing.  

     Rotem Sivan was a musical mastermind, every song, whether it was one of his own compositions like ‘Antidote’, or a jazz standard such as ‘In Walked Bud’ by Thelonius Monk, or a Bob Dylan song ‘Make me feel you r Love’, or a slow Jazz blues ballad like ‘Angel Eyes’, or, any of his other compositions, the arrangements were unique, the harmonies and rhythms, and treatment were always interesting and had his distinctive stamp on them.

       Even Rotem Sivan’s guitar was unique, a Gibson semi hollow body guitar that he had modified to produce the most unique sounds that he hears in his musical imagination, and which he makes come true. Some of the modifications were - an extra pick-up inside the body through which he could get every shade of sound that he could get out of his finger picking or plucking or from his percussive style of playing on the fret board. There was a modification even near the bridge for getting some effect that he had innovated, and even the back of his guitar had a snare from a snare drum, attached to it in case he needed a particular sound while playing percussively on the back. And to top it all Rotem Sivan used every bit of the guitar to produce the most beautiful sounds that he could imagine; and not only that, he produced some most interesting melodies and improvisations one could hear on a guitar. He was a high level improviser, whether his phrases were long or short, they were more often than not, melodious and meaningful.

     And Mishko M’Ba, what and fine musician he is, always in time, always playing the right notes in the right place, always playing perfect harmonics and always being supportive and imaginatively, whether playing along with the lead and drums or soloing. His solos too were always sympathetic, melodious and an empathetic.

     Karina Colis’, drumming was the highlight of the show for this audience. Karina was always listening, and tuned in to the complicated arrangements that Sivan had conjured, and she shifted the rhythms and changed her dynamics to serve the song with real empathy and grace. She was loud and explosive, when needed; responsive to the melody with soft cadences, when needed. Her flexible wrists allowed her to play with the lightness of touch or the heaviness of a rock drummer. But where she won the hearts of the audience was during the Encore, when she sang a most unusual version of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’, Rotem Sivan’s ingenious and interesting arrangement of this old classic, in a clear singing voice that made the audience wish they could hear more songs from her. But the time was up, and the concert had to come to an end.

     The Secunderabad Club, deserves a credit for having the foresight, the heart and the spirit of cultural responsibility to present the city with this opportunity to listen to Jazz, which is a very technical art form. And sponsoring and presenting Jazz is indeed a way to develop and grow musical culture in a society that is in need of a cultural revival.

Before we forget, the Roten Sivan Trio was preceded by another trio, Abhijit Gurjale on Violin, Nicole Connolly Bhatia on Flute and Joe Koster, the multi-purpose man, on piano, these three are teachers at the Hyderabad Western Music Foundation School of Music, performed proficiently on three different classical pieces: Talented Abhijith Gurjale on violin, and the skilful Nicole Connoly Bhatia on flute, displayed their skill as soloists , and then performed along with the competent, multitasking Swiss Knife, Joe Koster, as a trio, showing that the teaching of Western Classical music in the twin cities is in good hands. The Hyderabad Western Music Foundation, The Goethe Zentrum and Secunderabad Club must be jointly thanked for bringing ‘live’ music of such a high standard to the twin cities.

Write-up by Pratap Antony


ROTEM SIVAN is taking the New York City jazz scene by storm. Described by DownBeat Magazine as “a remarkable talent and a welcome new voice on the scene,” he completed his studies in both classical composition and jazz with honors in Tel Aviv & NYC. Sivan tours with his trio most of the year playing in world-renowned festivals and clubs. He has performed in countries such as France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Poland, UK, Slovenia, Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Israel, USA, and Canada, among others, and has given workshops around the world in top universities and schools.

Sivan is a guitarist for the 21st century, with an international background and border-defying interests. He has developed a glowing tone and quicksilver phrasing, as well as a sophisticated sense of rhythm and an openhearted approach to melody. Sivan’s approach to recording is unique and allows for the preservation of the soul and vibe of the jazz creation.

Live in hamburg

Mexican drummer KARINA COLIS, based in New York city, has performed with several projects that rank from Latin, jazz, world jazz, Folk, R&B Funk, to Indian/fusion. Some of her highlight performances include international festivals and venues such as The Blue Note Jazz Festival in New York, US, The Montreux Jazz Festival in Canada, The Kalcutta Jazz Festival in India, International Circuit in Bahrain in the Middle East, Woman in UK, "Vive Latiino” in Mexico city "Fusion Festival" in Germany, "International folk Festival" in Argentina,“Virada Cultural” in Brazil, New Morning in Paris and Babel Fest in France to name a few..

MISHKO M'BA - Among the cream of French bassists, this composer, arranger, producer, bass guitarist, pianist was born in France.

Performed on numerous French and international scenes from the 80s, before joining India (Pondicherry) where he lives for 12 years. A student of western classical music in Toulouse, he later focused on jazz and rock. He was a part of the French Reunion Island band, Ziskakan, the Paris ensemble Elixir with Raoul de Souza. A much 'in demand' bass player he has toured in USA, Europe and Asia regularly for many years. Mishko has worked with renowned artistes such as Ray Charles, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Raul de Souza, Khaled, Didier Lockwood... He currently plays with Emergence, Mystic Vibes, Lucky Ali, “the Jaco Pastorius Tribute Band” (on his own name), UNK (Radha Thomas Ensemble), Refuge, Mangloo (Reunion Island), and other projects...