At an early age I was introduced to music, a heritage of my family.
My uncle, Albert Piamenta, was an Israeli saxophonist who became famous for mixing Judeo-Arabic music with jazz. My mother also loved music, so much so that the first piece of furniture she bought for our house in Tel Aviv was a piano. And my older brother, Yosi, was a guitar player who, in the course of his career, created a whole new style – a blend of rock and Israeli compositions, which had a major influence on Jewish music.
I grew up playing piano but, after a time, I discovered the magical sound of the flute and that became my instrument of choice. At age seventeen, I started performing with Yosi, who was then a soldier and playing in an IDF band. I vividly remember joining him for a concert just when the Yom Kippur War broke out in 1973. We performed for the soldiers on the front lines with bombs flying over us.
A year after the war we formed a band – called the Piamenta Band – which became very popular. So much so that when the famed saxophonist, Stan Getz – one of the greatest jazz stylists ever – arrived in Israel in 1976 and heard our music, he invited us to tour and record with him. That was the first time in history that a musician of such caliber collaborated with Israeli musicians, and it caused a media sensation.
As our fame grew, we were sent by the Israeli government to perform throughout the U.S. and Canada at 30th anniversary celebrations of the State of Israel. But, by this time, I had become Torah-observant, and shortly thereafter, I was exposed to the teachings of the Alter Rebbe, the 18th century founder of the Chabad Movement, and I decided to stay in New York to learn Torah and chasidic teachings. I also formed an informal yeshivah of other musicians which I called (more…)