By Bob Jacobson
When leaving military service, most people take time off to decompress and adjust to civilian life. But not Reut Regev.
Discharged from the Israel Defense Forces in 1998, she flew to New York City the very next day. After all, she was 19 and in love, not only with her then-boyfriend, drummer Igal Foni, but with the trombone and improvised music. Foni had gigs already booked for himself and Regev.
Twenty-three years later, Foni and Regev are married and live in Rahway, N.J., with their 10-year-old daughter, Liana. Regev, who performs in Baltimore next week with the all-female jazz group Sheroes, is an extremely active musician, composer, band leader and educator.
Foni and Regev were among the first wave of young Israeli musicians migrating at the turn of the millennium to jazz music’s epicenter, New York City. While many of the Israelis came to attend jazz programs at colleges like The New School, Manhattan School of Music or Berklee College of Music (in Boston), Regev dove into performing right away. She attended Manhattan School of Music briefly but did not like the way they were molding her to sound like other trombonists.
Soon after arriving in the States, Regev and Foni lived in New York City’s East Harlem, where she began playing in salsa bands, often starting at midnight.
“I was always open to learning new genres,” Regev said. “That’s the beauty of living in or near New York City.”
With versatility that is the hallmark of most successful non-classical musicians, Regev also plays in blues, klezmer and avant-garde bands. In addition, Regev and her husband co-lead the band Reut Regev’s R*Time. Since 2009, they have released three CDs.
Regev also plays with Metropolitan Klezmer.
“This was my first exposure to klezmer,” she said. “In Israel, klezmer was the music of Hasidic people. I am secular. Here, klezmer seems to belong to all people.”
Her experience with klezmer has included both traditional and more creative, improvised styles. She has also performed with saxophonist Jessica Lurie, both playing shofars, at a synagogue in Brooklyn and has blown the shofar for services at a synagogue in Montclair, N.J. She occasionally returns to an instrument she began during childhood: accordion.
With her own band and others, Regev has toured much of the world — Europe, Africa and South America — in festivals and other performing formats.
“In her first 10 years, my daughter has been to 30 countries,” Regev proudly said.
Her daughter, Liana, also occasionally appears as a special guest on keyboard with her parents’ jazz trio at a local hotel.
Like many jazz musicians, Regev also teaches. She and Foni began teaching in their daughter’s preschool, but since then, Regev has branched out to teach workshops at universities around the world and private lessons in her studio and online for students of all ages. One aspect of teaching that attracts her is its consistency, “unlike the music business, which is unstable financially, energetically and emotionally,” Regev said.
“It’s also a real nice boost to the confidence when students come back,” she added
About Sheroes, Regev said, “I love all the musicians in the band. One of the beautiful things is that it is mostly straight-ahead jazz. [Band leader Monika Herzig] likes to feature each musician’s compositions. Each Sheroes CD features one of my compositions and at least one is always on our set list.”
The eight-piece, all-female jazz band Sheroes will perform downtown at An die Musik on Nov. 11, with live shows at 7 and 9 p.m. The show will also stream online. Tickets are $10–25 and available at andiemusiklive.com.
Bob Jacobson is a freelance writer.