By: Kate Irwin, Resident Press Corps
In continuation of the Artists of I-House series, I sat down with the very talented Sam Javitch, now in his third year at I-House, to discuss music, upcoming projects, and what it’s like to be a jazz musician.
Where are you from originally?
I was born in NYC and am from the Westchester/Scarsdale/New Rochelle area. I’m not your stereotypical New Yorker though.
What brought you to I-House? School or work?
I was starting at the Manhattan School of Music (MSM, where I just graduated from). I had applied to live there but they were full, and one of the places MSM recommended to me was I-House. I studied jazz piano performance at MSM. I play jazz and sometimes melodica, but my main focus is jazz music.
Can you tell us about how you got into jazz music?
I started when I taught myself the piano—I was around four or five years old. I didn’t like classical music and had been improvising original compositions, so my Mom suggested jazz lessons. I took one lesson and that was it. I loved it, and I knew right then that was what I was going to do for the rest of my life.
Please describe a current project you’re working on.
I just came out with an album of all my original compositions with my quartet. Currently our name is just the Sam Javitch Quartet. We’re doing a CD release show in April. It’ll be at Joe’s Pub hopefully, in NYC down by 14th street. The album is currently on iTunes, Amazon and CDBaby. It’s called “People and Places.”
Are you currently working on other projects besides your quartet?
Yes. I volunteer twice a week at the music therapy program at the Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine—Beth Israel. I play piano for the patients and am assisting with some of the studies and research there. I also teach music—I have one private student who plays classically but wanted to learn jazz. When you’re teaching jazz, improvisation is ultimately what you want people to learn.
What inspires you to write music?
People, places, events, or something I hear in a song. Feelings, things that happen to me too. I think about how it makes me feel—the music has different sounds and you can kind of translate that emotion. It’s 80% subconscious I think, creating music.
Please share any future creative projects you are planning to make in the near future?
My next project isn’t on paper yet, but I’m working on writing some new material. My grandfather is a Holocaust survivor so I want to do an album of music about his story. So that’s the next project.
How has living at I-House influenced you?
It’s my third and final year of living here.
I-House has really opened my eyes to how many different ways of being there are in this world. What I see isn’t the only way of seeing the world—there are so many different viewpoints and people come from a wide a range of cultures with rich histories. I feel like this world just needs to come together more as a human race.
There are so many people at I-House who are doing so many different, incredible things. Living here has really taught me to be accepting of everyone, even more so than I already was before. I-House is a really self-sufficient place too, so I’d say it’s really important to go to the events if you can and try to be involved and spend time in the common spaces to meet other Residents.
Does I-House facilitate opportunities for musicians?
Yes. I’ve had some incredible performance opportunities because of I-House. For example, I performed with Nina Simone’s brother when he was here, I played at a recent open house and I opened up for this amazing clarinet player at the Grand Salon. I’ve been really impressed by the musical opportunities I’ve been given just from being a part of the I-House community. I-House has something good going with music—musicians can audition and after that, you’re looped in on future opportunities. Heather Mangrum at I-House was so supportive and helpful to me—she’s the best! She has done so much to support my music and I really can’t thank her enough for everything.