For Israeli native and New York City based guitarist/composer Tal Yahalom, improvisation, communication and storytelling have always been the most satisfying and captivating aspects in music making. Naturally drawn to the unique language of Wayne Shorter, Bill Evans, Jim Hall and Charles Mingus, alongside the works of Bach, Ravel and Debussy, he seeks to develop an organic and personal way to combine composition and improvisation while exploring and expanding the instrumental capabilities of the guitar.
When Tal first picked up the guitar at the age of 12, he was mainly interested in rock and Israeli music but quickly started exploring jazz and improvisation at 15. At 18, he was drafted to his mandatory IDF service as an excelling musician – one of seven in the country in 2010. This distinguished status allowed him to simultaneously start a BFA at the "Center for Jazz Studies" of the Israeli Conservatory of Music, Tel Aviv - his first experience at a jazz education program.
At the time, Tal studied and performed with some of Israel's best musicians, including Gilad Ronen, Yuval Cohen, Omri Mor, Shai Chen and Harel Shachal. He received scholarships for excellent academic achievements and was chosen to perform in prestigious concerts featuring international artists-in-residence Sam Yahel and the late Mulgrew Miller, as well as at the Rostov Jazz Festival, Russia.
Tal led and co-led various bands in performances across the country, building a reputation in the Israeli jazz scene. His groups won the young jazz ensembles competition of the 2013 Red Sea Jazz Festival alongside the 2014 jazz ensembles competition of the Jerusalem Academy of Music.
Before moving to the US, he attended the 2013/2014 Siena Jazz workshops and had the chance to study and perform with Ambrose Akinmusire, the late John Taylor, Jeff Ballard, David Binney, Gilad Hekselman, Lionel Loueke and Stefano Battagllia, among others.
Since his arrival to NYC in summer 2014, Tal has been working on several main projects: KADAWA - a collective experimental-rock-jazz trio performing original compositions influenced by life experiences, cinema and literature; the Sagi Kaufman Trio - an alto, guitar, drums trio playing rubato style, jazz-influenced music, and a Solo Guitar project - exploring the combination of free improvisations with original and classical music, standard jazz forms and songs (more information under "Projects & Media").
In addition, he has been performing regularly across the city with various sideman projects, ranging stylistically from rock and pop to straight-ahead jazz and world music.
Tal recently graduated from the "New School for Jazz & Contemporary Music", earning his BFA with valedictorian honors. During his undergraduate studies he expanded his musical world by studying traditional and modern Brazilian music, M-Base, counterpoint, orchestration and classical composition. Tal was fortunate enough to study with many of his favorite musicians, including Tony Malaby, Miles Okazaki, Dan Weiss, Bill McHenry, Robert Sadin, Andy Milne, Hal Galper, Julian Lage, Rudolph Palmer, Mark Delpriora and Richard Boukas.
Tal is the winner of the 2015 Detroit Jazz Festival Guitar Competition, 3rd place winner of the 2016 Montreux Jazz Festival Guitar Competition and the recipient of the 2014-2015 AICF scholarship award for excellence in jazz performance. He has performed as a leader at the 2015 Detroit Jazz Festival, 2016 Bern Jazz Festival and at well-known venues across New York City and Israel.
"Tal Yahalom is one of the most impressive jazz players of his generation."
- Bill Kirchner, Grammy award winning musician/producer/jazz historian/educator
"Yahalom can really wail, exhibiting impressive dexterity and sense of mood...
[Yahalom] can go straight-ahead jazz but is a marvel to see where that takes him as a mere aural launching pad over the course of a solo."
- Anthony Dean-Harris,
"...reminiscent of a young Bill Frisell or Pat Metheny."
_ Von Rainer Schmidt, 'Neue Westfälisch' (Germany)