60 seconds with ... Yaron Herman

Blue Note Records artist Yaron Herman appeared at the 2016 Hampstead Arts & EFG London Jazz Festivals with his musical alter ego, drummer Ziv Ravitz.

You started your career as a basketball player but then things changed, can you tell us what happened and how you came to be a musician?  
I got injured during a match when I was 16 and had to let go of my dream of becoming a professional athlete.  I wanted to learn how to play the piano because there was a piano in my classroom at school and since I couldn't run and play basketball or football and had to spend a lot of time immobilized, I thought it could be a good way of passing time.  I then started looking for a teacher and was fortunate to have found the right one who opened my mind and my heart to the power and creativity of music, and my life changed from that moment on.

Who has influenced your career most and why?
My first teacher influenced me a great deal but I guess so many things influence me, ranging from my family's history to reading philosophy, psychology, alchemy, history of religion, math, traveling and just trying to be empathetic with the world.

What has been your favourite venue to have performed in, in your career to date, and why?
There's no favourites, it's all a part of a whole. Even though I have to confess that having a beautiful instrument in a wonderfully designed hall with great acoustics does help.  

What is the greatest challenge you have had to overcome in your life thus far?
Myself.  Music, like many other disciplines which require a high level of concentration, perseverance and dedication has an inner game that is being constantly played in the mind. Vicious cycles are never far away. Finding the courage to get over fear, laziness, ego etc.  It's a never ending journey in which music is sometime a means for a goal.  A tool for connecting with inspiration or if you may, something larger than oneself.

You’ve recorded a song by Radiohead. What fascinated you about their music and are there some "jazzy" vibes hidden inside of it? (Question borrowed from Jazz Dimensions)
I think what attracted me to it is that it didn't have any jazzy vibes about it! Radiohead is probably one of the most inspiring bands today. Lots of jazz musicians love their music and are inspired by it. I just think that "No Surprises" is a fantastic song with a great emotional power. Which is very important to me when I choose to play a song.

Outside of music, what are you passionate about and how do you include these in your day-to-day life?   
I'm passionate about learning and that works out pretty well with music. The more one learns about oneself and the world the more we can understand it. Passion is the key to learning.

How would you describe and rate the music scene of the city you are currently living in and how important is it in terms of your musical creativity? 
Paris has a very vibrant live music scene.  Jazz has always been a part of Paris since the 50's with the likes of Bud Powell, Kenny Clark, Dexter Gordon, Johnny griffin.  Today it's one of the top 3 cities in the world for jazz in my opinion and it's becoming more and more international.

Which actor would you like to play you in a story of your life? 
I never thought about that really.  I would be curious to see Dustin Hoffman give it a shot.

Tell us one fun fact about yourself which people may find surprising. 
I'm a huge Monty Python fan and can really play ping pong! (I have a lethal spin on the backhand). 

What unrealised ambitions do you still have?
Well, I just want to stay in good health and make people happy with my music. That's already great!