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Rotem Sivan | “Dream Louder”

Guitarist Rotem Sivan Shares an Uplifting Message of Family, Love and Humanity on Dream Louder,

His Most Potent and Emotionally Resonant Project to Date

Featuring Bassist Hamish Smith and Drummer

Miguel Russell

Available January 12, 2024 via Sonder House

Album-Release Concert at Nublu, New York City

7 p.m., Friday, January 19

“An artist to be reckoned with in the crowded modern jazz guitar scene. He possesses prodigious technique and talent, fortified by a sense of adventure and heady sophistication — but also savors a moving melody and an infectious groove.” — DownBeat

“Guitarist Rotem Sivan’s Dream Louder is more than a forum for his impressive virtuosity and succeeds on multiple levels… Here, he showcases his chops, but they are balanced by compositional skill, leadership and a cohesive dynamic that results in a unified celebration of familial and musical connections.” — New York City Jazz Record

Described by Downbeat magazine as “a remarkable talent and a welcome new voice on the scene,” Israeli-born guitarist Rotem Sivan has been turning heads since arriving in New York City. Lauded for his energy, ideas and virtuosic chops, Sivan has racked up an impressive list of recordings as a leader, beginning with 2013’s Enchanted Sun and continuing with such stellar outings as 2014’s For Emotional Use Only, 2015’s A New Dance, 2017’s Antidote, 2018’s My Favorite Monster, 2019’s Same Way Home and 2021’s Far From Shore. With Dream Louder, Sivan has realized his most potent and emotionally resonant project to date.

A musical love letter to his wife Lore (they met randomly through the online dating site Bumble five years ago and were married during the summer of 2022) and her immediate family, Dream Louder finds the guitarist-composer exploring the meaning of family, love and humanity in 10 inspired tracks. “I really like the idea of articulating our dreams and wishes,” said Sivan. “And I think by articulating them and even making them louder, we can hopefully manifest them.”

Along with the outstanding New Zealand-born bassist Hamish Smith and drumming phenom Miguel Russell, and featuring significant contributions from vocalist Sami Stevens and virtuoso whistler Luke Krafka, Sivan and his like-minded cohorts weave compelling rhythms and plaintive melodies on affecting numbers like “The Tree — For Hilde” (Lore’s mother), the light and lyrical “Anneleen” (Lore’s sister), the hard-hitting “Luc” (Lore’s father) and the fiery drum ’n’ bass-fueled blowing vehicle, “Dragon. “Lore Luv,” named for his wife, shifts from a sparse minor key ode to a grinding, distortion-laced bridge (“That’s for when she gets ‘hangry,’” he laughed. “She’s pretty good at that.”). “Magis” (Anneleen’s husband) is a slamming trio number that has the leader unleashing some pyrotechnics on the fretboard. “I wrote different songs for different people in Lore’s family, so it was really meaningful for me,” Sivan explained. “I was just in Europe for a tour and I stayed with them for a week at their place in Belgium, and it was great to hang with them. They were all there in the audience for one of my concerts and they were just so happy to hear their songs.”

“The Hamish,” named for the big-toned bassist, is a loping, blues-tinged groover with some playful call-and-response between Sivan’s singing guitar lines and Stevens’ frisky wordless vocals. The program is filled out by three well-chosen covers — a masterful acoustic guitar rendering of The Beatles’ “Blackbird,” a somber take on Jean Ritchie’s mournful Appalachian folk tune, “West Virginia Mine Disaster,” and a joyful interpretation of “Mack the Knife”(from Kurt Weill-Bertolt Brecht’s Three Penny Opera and later popularized by Louis Armstrong) that shifts from a distinctive “Poinciana” beat to mid-tempo swing section to joyful New Orleans second line parade beat, while showcasing Sivan’s signature chops along the way.

Sivan has high praise for his young sidemen on Dream Louder: 26-year-old Smith, who moved from New Zealand and graduated from the Manhattan School of Music three years ago. “He’s an amazing musician and an incredibly great guy. We first connected in a session then started playing some gigs and eventually doing some tours together. He’s so relaxed and it’s just super fun playing with him,” Sivan said.

Russell is just 21 but he’s been playing professionally for 17 years. “Believe it or not, he played his first paying gig at age three,” Sivan said. “His perception of music is so deep. I was showing him this very difficult tune of mine where the groove is in 11 on top of 4, and he picked it up in about 35 seconds, literally. Both of these cats are so musical and they grab music so fast. I think they are going to be a very integral part of the music scene for years to come.”

Stevens’ wordless vocals provide an ethereal quality throughout Dream Louder as she deftly doubles melody lines on “The Tree — For Hilde,” “Anneleen,” “Lore Luv” and “West Virginia Mine Disaster.” “We recorded the vocal parts in my little home studio,” Sivan explained. “I basically played her the lines that I wanted her to double and she picked right up on it. I did send her the music ahead of the session to check out some of the more intricate lines, but she did it on the spot and just killed it.”

Krafka, who is actually an accomplished classical cellist, enhances several tracks with his distinctive whistling skills, lending a lonesome Ennio Morricone spaghetti western quality to tunes like “The Tree — For Hilde,” “Anneleen,” “Lore Luv” and “West Virginia Mine Disaster.” “He’s just a super talented individual who also happens to be a very good whistler,” said Sivan. “Somebody hired us for a session a while ago. We were in the studio together and he just randomly started whistling. And I thought to myself, ‘Wow, he’s really good.’ When I was contemplating using a whistler on this recording, I gave him a call. He stopped by my place and we hung out. He listened to the lines I had written out, and what you hear on the record was all done on the spot. It was a couple of hours of him just doubling guitar lines. And he nailed it.”

A labor of love that will pull at the heartstrings as it impresses guitar aficionados, Sivan’s Dream Louder is his crowning achievement to date.



February 16 – Zinc, NYC feat. Matt Penman


April 2 – Jazzatlan Capital

April 3 – Papagedes

April 4 – Mosser

April 5 – Zico Jazz Club

April 6/7 – Polanco Jazz Festival


April 15 – Pizza Express (London)

April 16 – Jazz Institute Workshop (Berlin)

April 16 – A Train (Berlin)

April 18 – Duc de Lombards (Paris)

April 19 – KASK Workshop & Show (Gent)

April 20 – Sounds Jazz Club (Brussels)

April 21 – Domicil (Dortmund)

photo by Dani Barbieri

Rotem Sivan · Dream Louder

Sonder House · Release Date: January 12, 2024

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