STORY WRITTEN BY ROB NAGY
For Digital First Media
“Who Gives A Funk” is the latest album release from Israeli born guitar virtuoso Oz Noy. The ten-song release offers a diverse and captivating musical adventure of original compositions and interpretations of works by James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Charles Mingus and Thelonius Monk.
One of Noy’s finest albums, a powerful and masterfully executed blend of jazz, funk, rock, blues and R&B, with a touch of big band, brings the infectious sounds of the 60’s and 70’s into the present.
Featured are guest appearances by Joe Bonamassa, Robben Ford, Randy Brecker, Dweezil Zappa, Chris Potter, Fred Weasley, Corey Glover, John Medeski and members of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Double Trouble.
“My mission was to write stuff that was simple, soulful and catchy, which is by far the hardest thing to do,” says Noy, while on tour in Europe. “That was quite the challenge. It’s much easier to write complicated music than simple music! It’s Jazz. It just doesn’t sound like it.”
“When you’re in the studio, you’re trying to be as free and relaxed as you are when you play live,” adds Noy. “But it’s a different state of mind, ‘cause everything is so microscopic in the studio. It takes time to get used to it. It’s very challenging and takes years and years of experience.”
A prodigy determined to make music his life’s work, Noy recalls his earliest lure to music.
“I was drawn to drums first, and a friend of mine was studying guitar and took me to see a lesson and that was that,” recalls Noy. “I have no idea why I was attracted to it. I was really into the Beatles and, once a friend of my brother started to come to our house and play Beatles songs, I was hooked.”
“I wasn’t a sensation. I was just really young when I started to play professionally,” recalls Noy. “I was doing recording sessions and playing with well known artists since (I was) about 14-15 years old.”
“I don’t know how to do anything else and never really thought about it, “adds Noy. “Its’ just a natural thing that you start doing when you’re young, and it becomes your life. I really never thought about it. I just always did it. Playing definitely takes you to another place. It’s kind of a healing thing in a way to your body, mind (and) soul.”
Playing professionally at age 13, Noy had a visible passion for experimentation in a variety of genres. By his mid-teens his skills on the guitar were in demand by some of Israel’s most notable performers. A decade later, by now established as one of his country’s most treasured musicians, Noy set his sights on America.
Arriving with guitar in hand in New York City in 1996, Noy’s dreams were realized. Performing, touring and recording with an impressive roster of musicians, including Chris Botti, Harry Belafonte, Cyndi Lauper, John Patitucci, The East Village Opera Company, Roger Glover, Warren Haynes, Gov’t Mule, The Allman Brothers, Allen Toussaint and Eric Johnson, among others, Noy’s talents remain consistently in demand.
Performing on commercial and film soundtracks such as “Auto Focus,” “Undefeated” and “Queer as Folk” (HBO) and “The Drug Years” (VH1), Noy also composed the soundtrack for the critically acclaimed documentary “A/K/A Tommy Chong” in 2006.
“I was very excited to come here,” recalls Noy. “The level of musicianship was very high! Much higher than what I was used to in Israel, which is the main reason why I moved to New York City. Playing with some of my idols and becoming friends with them is a whole other trip. I love that part! “
“I never felt any pressure ever. I just studied, practiced and tried to get better and just did what I was supposed to do whether there where expectations or not. Making good music and being around good people that are also good musicians is the reward.”
Noy released his debut album “Oz Live,” recorded at NYC’s legendary Bitter End, in 2003. A year later he signed with Magna Carta Records (Japan) and released the highly anticipated “HA!” album in 2005, featuring his all-star band Anton Fig, Keith Carlock, Will Lee and James Genus plus special guests Mike Stern and George Whitty.
Readers of Guitar Player Magazine paid homage to Noy voting him “Best guitar riff on a record” (2007), “Best new talent” (2008), and “Best out there guitar player” (2013).
A sought after instructor that thrives on sharing his artistry, Noy conducts master classes at The Collective School of Music in New York City, and the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles. He has released a series of acclaimed instructional DVD’s and videos, “Guitar Improvisational Workout,” “Play Along Workout,” “Improv Wizard,” “Neck” and “Blues, Bends and Beyond.”
“The curiosity to try something new and love for music continues to drive me,” says Noy. “I never had many expectations other than being a musician, hopefully a really good one. I still love it as much as when I started 30 years ago! I just wanted to play good music with good musicians and have a good life… that’s not much to ask, I think.”
Currently on tour in support of “Who Gives A Funk,” Noy will bring his power trio to the Philadelphia area when he invades the Sellersville Theater in mid April.
“We’ll play music from all my records. I have 8 out including the new record. We’ll be focusing on the new album a bit more,” says Noy. “The band, Dave Weckl and Jimmy Haslip, are fantastic!”
“I would like people to go away with my new record in their hands,” adds Noy. “Also I would love it if they enjoy the experience and have a good time — with joy, fun, love, all the good feelings. As long as it’s a positive feeling I did my job. Music is about making people feel good. The world needs good music.”