There’s nothing typical about how saxman Shay Salhov approaches his craft. He has one foot planted firmly in the future of modern jazz and the other paying homage to the past giants of the genre.
“We play mostly original music,” Salhov says. “When we do play standards, we all try to break the mold, to change things up. It’s not just traditional jazz.”
The result is a fluid sonic environment which sounds simultaneously minimalistic and full-bodied – one moment displaying rapidfire jazz runs a la Charlie Parker, then suddenly becoming angular and sparse, not unlike a modern avant-garde classical piece.
The Israeli-born windman’s parents were music lovers, and steered him to piano lessons at age 7, but by fourth grade he had already added sax to his musical arsenal. Jazz didn’t come until later.
“I never really got into jazz in the beginning,” Salhov remembers. “My big aha moment was much later on.”
That came when he was introduced to the music of John Coltrane, Wynton Marsalis and Michael Brecker. “It suddenly just felt natural,” he adds. “I remember liking the sound, color and feel of jazz and so I started studying improvisation.”
Salhov came to the U.S. to study at the acclaimed Berklee School of Music in Boston in 2000, then lived in New York before moving to Boulder Creek in 2009, where he still resides. His early years in the U.S. still influence his work.
“Berklee was completely inspiring,” he says. “It’s immersive. Non-stop music all day and all night. And there’s nothing like the music scene in New York. I’m still very much influenced and inspired by what I learned on the East Coast.”
SHAY SALHOV QUARTET 5pm Sunday, Aug. 18. East Village Coffee Lounge, 498 Washington St., Monterey. $10. 373-5601.