Call on the old wise

Nitai Hershkovits

With Call on the old Wise Nitai Hershkovits delivers an entrancing solo album. In this largely improvised solo rendering, the pianist draws from broad influences, ranging from his extensive work in jazz contexts and cutting-edge contemporary explorations to his background in classical music. This immaculate balance of idioms gives rise to an abundance of colours and timbres, explored by a pianist, who has successfully forged his very own voice as improviser and shape-designer. With a soft touch, light action and washing harmonies, Nitai’s improvisations unfold like compositions being created in real-time, making Call on the Old Wise a testimony to the pianist’s unique inventiveness as well as an essential addition to ECM’s celebrated line of solo piano recordings. The album, recorded in Lugano in 2022 and produced by Manfred Eicher, follows after his contributions in Oded Tzur’s quartet on the acclaimed recordings Here Be Dragons (2020) and Isabela (2022).
Mit Call on the old Wise legt der israelische Pianist Nitai Hershkovits sein bemerkenswertes Solo-Debüt für ECM vor. In diesem größtenteils improvisierten Programm schöpft der israelische Pianist aus einem breiten Spektrum von Einflüssen, die von seiner umfangreichen Arbeit in Jazzkontexten und experimentellen zeitgenössischen Erkundungen bis zur klassischen Musik reichen. Sein feinfühliger Umgang mit diesen verschiedensten Idiomen ergibt eine einzigartige Spannweite an Klangfarben, die belegen, dass der Pianist längst eine gänzlich eigenständige Stimme als Improvisator und Formgestalter entwickelt hat. Sanften Anschlags, mit leichtfüßig-verspielten Bewegungen über die Tasten und versonnenen Harmonien entfalten sich Nitais Improvisationen wie Kompositionen, die in Echtzeit entstehen. Call on the Old Wise ist ein Zeugnis des einzigartigen Erfindungsreichtums Nitais und eine unverzichtbare Ergänzung der profilierten Serie von Solo-Klavier-Aufnahmen auf ECM. Das Album, 2022 in Lugano aufgenommen und von Manfred Eicher produziert, folgt auf Nitais Beiträge als Teil von Oded Tzurs Quartett auf Here Be Dragons (2020) und Isabela (2022).
Featured Artists Recorded

June 2022, Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI, Lugano

Original Release Date


  • 1The Old Wise
    (Nitai Hershkovits)
  • 2Enough To Say I Will
    (Nitai Hershkovits)
  • 3Mode Antigona
    (Nitai Hershkovits)
  • 4Of Trust And Remorse
    (Nitai Hershkovits)
  • 5Intermezzo No. 3
    (Nitai Hershkovits)
  • 6Majestic Steps Glow Far
    (Nitai Hershkovits)
  • 7Dream Your Dreams
    (Molly Drake)
  • 8Placid In Africansque
    (Nitai Hershkovits)
  • 9Mode Brilliante
    (Nitai Hershkovits)
  • 10Single Petal Of A Rose
    (Duke Ellington)
  • 11A Rooftop Minuet
    (Nitai Hershkovits)
  • 12Late Blossom
    (Nitai Hershkovits)
  • 13Intermezzo No. 4
    (Nitai Hershkovits)
  • 14In Satin
    (Nitai Hershkovits)
  • 15This You Mean To Me
    (Nitai Hershkovits)
  • 16Of Mentorship
    (Nitai Hershkovits)
  • 17For Suzan
    (Nitai Hershkovits)
  • 18River Wash Me
    (Nitai Hershkovits)
A soothing solo piano recording that tugs at the heart strings and journeys deeper the more you listen, ‘Call on the Old Wise,’ recorded in a Lugano studio in 2022 by the Israeli Nitai Hershkovits known for his work with Oded Tzur, is stocked with improvised compositions of the pianist's and so complete and intact they prove too. You'll also find a concise rendering of Duke Ellington's 'Single Petal of a Rose' in the mix. Hershkovits here will just as easily appeal to classical as jazz fans - there are no boundaries in his approach.
Stephen Graham, Marlbank
Der israelische Pianist vom Oded Tzur Quartet, hier solo mit 18 ergreifenden Improvisationen.
Ulrich Stock, Die Zeit
Von wegen, auf dem Klavier wäre alles gespielt, es gäbe kaum Neues zu sagen. Wer das glaubt, sollte sich das neue Solo-Album von Nitai Hershkovits anhören. Wie kaum ein anderer bewegt sich der 1988 in Israel geborene Pianist spieltechnisch versiert wie fantasiereich zwischen den Polen notierter Klassik und improvisiertem Jazz. Ein geistreicher Individualist, der in der Vergangenheit auch seine Teamfähigkeit unter Beweis stellen konnte. Auf ‘Call On The Old Wise’ macht er sein musikalisches Innenleben akustisch zugänglich, zeigt sein Geschick am Instrument, sein Format in der Auswahl von Themen und Farben. Er glänzt introvertiert, mit einem Kosmos sparsamer Verzierungen, deren Sorgfalt und Perfektion begeistern.  […] Die zweite Fremdkomposition stammt aus Duke Ellingtons ‘Queen Suite’: ‘Single Petal Of A Rose’. Nitai Hershkovits macht aus diesem kleinen Werk eine hymnische Ballade, eine beschwörende Formel, umgesetzt mit minimalistischer Insistenz. ‘Call On The Old Wise’ wird nicht zuletzt durch diese Interpretation zu einer berührenden Entdeckung und insgesamt zu einem assoziativen Meisterwerk.
Jörg Konrad, Kultkomplott
This is the latest in the long and illustrious line of solo piano albums from estimable German label ECM – a tradition that stretches back to the astonishing 1970s recordings of Keith Jarrett, whose landmark triple LP, ‘Solo Concerts: Bremen/Lausanne’, has recently been reissued on ‘audiophile vinyl’ to mark its 50th anniversary. On his debut album for the label, the 35-year-old Israeli pianist Nitai Hershkovits adopts, similar to Jarrett, a ‘largely improvised’ approach to the challenge of maintaining colour and momentum over the course of 50 minutes or more. […] Hershkovits, born to a Moroccan mother and a Polish father, is a fascinating and gifted player who has been a vital member of forward-thinking groups led by the bassist Avishai Cohen and the saxophonist Oded Tzur. […] ‘Call on the Old Wise’ leans more firmly on the pianist’s classical inclinations and soundworld; these are exquisitely executed inventions, full of surprise, sensitivity and no small amount of romanticism, that emerge like spontaneous real-time compositions.
Philip Watson, The Irish Times
The ECM catalogue boasts a long line in solo piano recordings, and with ‘Call on the Old Wise,’ it has another impressive album to add to the library. Previously heard on ‘Here Be Dragons’ and ‘Isabela’ with tenor saxophonist Oded Tzur, this is Hershkovits’s debut under his own name for the label in a beguiling and constantly shifting set of pieces that appear to explore multiple ideas and directions simultaneously. In this mostly improvised set of eighteen pieces, none of which exceed four and a half minutes, each appears as a fully formed miniature. All are just the right length; there are no static or dull spots, and even when at their briefest and done in little more than a minute, there is a sense of completeness and that playing anything more would destroy the mood and balance of the composition. […] The music throughout is wide-ranging and leaves Hershkovits free to explore not just his interest in jazz but also his extensive knowledge of classical music. […] An album that has been on repeat since its arrival for review, this is a more than worthy addition to the ECM solo piano catalogue and will delight followers of both the jazz-related releases and New Series recordings of the imprint.
Nick Lea, Jazz Views
‘Call on the Old Wise’ is his ECM solo debut—though he has appeared on two of saxophonist Oded Tzur’s projects. Further, it shows off his ability to craft careful and thoughtful compositions that don’t run away from melodic inclinations. Instead, they have a fluidity to them that also encompasses memorable themes and motifs that also have a rather Claude Debussy sound to them. From the start of Hershkovits’ fifth studio album, the rippling runs mixed with more jagged or syncopated playing sets the style and overall tone […] The French Impressionist style runs through the whole album, giving it a warmth and a delicateness that more free form jazz doesn’t always contain. […] here, the solo piano works its magic and fills the space with lovely, sad, joyous, melancholy and so many more emotions and colors. From one piece to the next, the rhythmic and tonal shifts are never violent. Really, the flow both creates connection and singularity. Each composition is itself but also a part of this whole project. […] Hershkovits hits so many high points that the anticipation for the next album is already bubbling up.
Konstantin N. Rega, Spectrum Culture
À la fois envoûtant et rafraîchissant, envirant et très groovy:  le cinquiéme disque de Nitai Hershkovits, son deuxième en solo, confirme l’étendue du talent du pianiste israélien, la puissance de son inspiration, son sens de la composition aboutie. […] Foisonnant de couleurs et de timbres, cet album de Nitai Hershkovits est un pur ravissment.
Yvan Duvivier, Ouest France Dimanche
C’est avant tout un jeu funambule que propose le pianist Nitai Hershkovits […] ce pianist aux origins multiples s’échappe des évidences standardisées pour explorer des mondes qui se frôlent, celui du jazz, de la musique classique, de la creation contemporaine, du néo-classicisme et pas seulement. La sagesse des anciens que convoque le titre de’l album résonne comme une conscience de l’histoire dans une musique bigarrée […] Les 18 pièces qui font cet album sont un voyage où les questions de style et de genre sont abandonnées au profit d’un syncrétisme naturel et presque naïf  qui réjouit doucement l’oreille. […] Le jeu du pianist est délicat, un peu pointu, à la limite de la fragilité. Il n’y a ni force ni violence: Nitai Hershkovits semble une route musicale, donner la main à l’auditeur mais sans leporter, pour s’autoriser le voyage d’un disque qu’il est conseillé d’ écouterd’un bout à l’autre pour en percevoir les amours multiples.
Pierre Solot, RTBF Musiq 3 (Choix Musical)
Wie Jarrett ist Nitai Hershkovits ein improvisierender Tonmaler, der sich im Jazz ebenso zuhause fühlt wie in der Klassik. Er geht in jede Aufnahmesession mit so wenig vorgefassten Ideen wie möglich, sagt der35jährige. Das ist seinem ECM-Debüt im besten Sinne anzuhören.
Holger True, Hamburger Abendblatt
‘Call on the Old Wise’ may be his first solo recording for ECM, but Hershkovits has impressed hugely with his contributions to Oded Tzur’s wonderful albums ‘Here Be Dragons’, and more recently the incredible ‘Isabela’, one of my picks of the year for 2022. His style and approach is often subtle, yet there is a sense of spiritual energy and timelessness to his playing that I find extremely engaging. […] The music is sublime, with each and every track offering a glimpse of something new and inventive. Some of these glimpses are fleeting, with some being particularly prescient, but the way Hershkovits moves from one idea to another reflects in the nature of the music itself. Each piece is like a beautiful moment in time, never to be repeated, yet always to be savoured. […] ‘Call on the Old Wise’ is a testimony to Nitai Hershkovits’ unique inventiveness as well as being a worthy addition to ECM’s celebrated line of solo piano recordings
Mike Gates, UK Vibe
Mit dem zweiten Solowerk ‘Call On The Old Wise’ evoziert er in Echtzeit komponierend Ravel, Debussy, Skriabin, Schubert. Die ganze reiche Palette an Farben ist da. ‘Dream Your Dreams’ hätte das Zeug zu einer Nationalhymne. Ellingtons ‘Single Petal Of A Rose’ ist von geradezu überirdischer Schönheit. Dann dieser Blues – und Schluss. Wow!
Karl Lippegaus, Fono Forum
Trasparenza e liquidità sono caratteristiche preponderanti di questo album per piano solo. Il musicista israeliano lavora con un tocco pianistico raffinato, facendo dell’improvvisazione tonale quasi un manifesto strutturale, muovendosi soprattutto tra le ombre rimarchevoli di Debussy, Ravel, Rachmaninov, Scriabin. […] – ma racconta la misterica fragranza di un Altrove meditato, compenetrato nel sentimento puro e lirico dell’Autore dai contorni spontaneamente impressionisti. Hershkovits non si cala tanto nel Profondo ma danza elegantemente sulla superficie, riuscendo a mantenere una certa flessibilità espressiva e dando uno sguardo interessato ma fuggevole a ciò che scorre sotto il pelo dell’acqua. Le sue forme sonore, infatti, appaiono talora melodicamente essenziali, sconfinando in toni velatamente fiabeschi ma altre volte sembrano maggiormente dirette alla ricerca di una sostanzialità oltre l’immediato livello percepibile della realtà. E in effetti, al di là del velo dell’apparenza, di fronte a Hershkovits sembrano spalancarsi visioni contemporanee di luoghi e tempi diversi, in un continuo pendolarismo tra vecchio e nuovo, tra dentro e fuori, notte e giorno. […] I brani che riempiono l’album, come sopra detto, sono diciotto, alcuni piuttosto brevi tanto da sembrare note appuntate in cerca di futuro sviluppo, ma in realtà l’ascolto globale di tutti i brani può regalare l’impressione di una certa omogeneità e unità d’intenti, quasi come se l’idea basilare fosse quella di una sola, lunga improvvisazione tematica, un unico boquet di fiori dai diversi profumi.
Riccardo Talamazzi, Offtopic Magazine
Die erste Einspielung des Pianisten Nitai Hershkovits für ECM ist ein echtes Statement. Auf ‘Call On the Old Wise’ präsentiert der Israeli Charakterstücke, die klingen, als wollte er spätromantische Klaviermusik und jazzige Stilistik versöhnen. […] Welch Stilansatz auch immer: Bemerkenswert die melodischen Pointen eines Musikers, der Chick Corea ebenso verinnerlicht hat wie Rachmaninow und Skrjabin.
Ljubiša Tošić, Der Standard
Es gibt Musik, die niemals enden sollte. ’Call On The OldWise’ gehört dazu. Der Pianist Nitai Hershkovits hat sie im Juni 2022 eingespielt, allein im Konzertsaal Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI im schweizerischen Lugano – ein vonECM-Chef und –Produzent Manfred Eicher bevorzugter Raum. Der brilliant detaillierte Flügelklang dieses genialen Albums zeigt, warum. […] Man hört hier viele stilistische Inspirationen von der russischen Spätromantik über skandinavische Albumblätter bis hin zu George Gershwin oder Fred Hersch […] Hinreißend sind auf diesem Album aber nicht nur der motivische Witz und die ebenso schweifende wie kompakte Dramaturgie der musikalischen Energie, sondern auch die Feinheiten seines kraftgenauen Anschlags, die Schattierungen der Akkorde, die sanft kammermusikalische Klammerung des Programms. Ein famoses Werk, ohne Frage.  
Ralf Dombrowski, Audio / Stereoplay
Die 18 Stücke auf dem Album, größtenteils um die zwei Minuten lang, sind markante Miniaturen, versonnen wie ‘Enough To Say I Will’, vital wie ‘Mode Antigona’, launig wie ‘Dream your dreams’. Manchmal blitzt Debussys Impressionismus auf, ein andermal die als Kargheit getarnte Intelligenz Saties oder die kosmische Einsamkeit Skrjabins. Hershkovits improvisiert über deutlich konturierten Ideen, seine pianistische Poesie hat Hand und Fuß.  Dann aber überschreitet er Grenzen, zieht in harmonische Fernen, erweist sich als in vielen Gangarten versierter Weltenwanderer wie einst Mozart oder später Gulda.   
Jens-Uwe Sommerschuh, Sächsische Zeitung
Il risultato rapisce in una dimensione onirica, dalla quale non si esce, se non quando l’ultima nota di pianoforte è stata suonata. Il suo tocco morbido ha la capacità di impreziosire le note come fossero perle e il suo gusto per la melodia corre su linee interiori e sentite. Il riferimento di Hershkovits è certamente il Chick Corea solista, nella dimensione più vicina all’impressionismo, all’introspezione giocata su armonie fluide. La chiave della sua ricerca, quasi un’autoanalisi in musica e insieme un sogno romantico, lo porta verso vette di lirismo e di fraseggio dal forte sapore classicheggiante, cui non è estraneo l’influsso di Sergej Rachmaninov e di Claude Debussy.
Raffaello Carabini, Spettakolo
Obwohl von der Musik auf seinem aktuellen Album nur wenig im herkömmlichen Sinne komponiert und das Meiste improvisiert ist, tritt er nicht wie ein Jazzmusiker auf. Seine Improvisationen perlen nicht assoziativ dahin, grooven kaum, steuern nicht auf dynamisch-rhythmische Zuspitzungen los. Sie entwickeln sich aus formalen, harmonischen oder melodischen Keimzellen, aus mehrdeutigen musikalische Gedanken, die er in aller Knappheit weiter denkt. Präludien, Themen, Durchführungen gibt es nicht. Nichts wirkt rhetorisch, nichts ufert aus. Widersprüche werden formuliert, aber nur kurz. Sie verhalten sich enorm produktiv, ohne die Form zu verletzen.
Hans-Jürgen Linke, Frankfurter Rundschau
The format is unusual, with 18 short tracks of solo piano, mostly improvised. The ambience is inward and searching. As his thoughts and feelings flow, Hershkovits again and again comes upon unfamiliar iterations of beauty. The format imposes its own limitations; five tracks are under two minutes and six more are under three. Sometimes these miniatures only have space for one idea, one gesture. But they never sound random or slight. From free air – in the moment – Hershkovits snatches complete songs.    
Thomas Conrad, Stereophile
Hershkovits’ glasklares Spiel sowie die Unvorhersehbarkeit seiner Melodien machen das Album zu einem interessanten und anregenden Hörerlebnis. Hershkovits’ Musik klingt sowohl tiefgründig und nachdenklich als auch verspielt und tänzelnd und mutet manchmal wie ein Selbstgespräch an – vielleicht sogar mit den ‘alten Weisen’.
Katharina Osztovic, Concerto
Klar hörbar ist der Einfluss des Pianisten Bill Evans. Gleich wie er setzt er auf leise Töne, auf nicht zu viele Noten und auf Introspektion. Alle Stücke sind kurz, wirken wie hingetupft und sind von dunkler Schönheit. Hershkovits improvisiert mit verblüffender Leichtigkeit, unangestrengt und entspannt. Er will mit nach innen gerichteter Expressivität zum Kern seiner Stücke vordringen, was ihm auf diesem herausragenden Abum überzeugend gelingt.
Richard Butz, Jazz’n’more
Call on the Old Wise is Nitai Hershkovits’ first record for ECM, presenting his powerful pianistic ingenuity in a largely improvised solo setting. Nitai’s improvisations unfold like compositions being created in real-time: “It’s like I’m playing with several periods of music at once, but in a sort of augmented-reality-environment,” states Nitai. “To me the album is like a journey taking you through multiple varying experiences in the blink of an eye. Like jumping through frames holding different pictures or looking through windows to different worlds.” Call on the Old Wise follows Isabela and Here Be Dragons, where Nitai has been heard as a member of Oded Tzur’s quartet.
The album is partially dedicated to Nitai’s former piano teacher Suzan Cohen, with whom he studied in Jerusalem and who according to Nitai is the mentor to whom the term ‘wise’ in the record’s title alludes. The pieces “The Old Wise”, “Of Mentorship” and “For Suzan” refer directly to her. But Nitai draws from wide-reaching influences, ranging from his work in jazz contexts and cutting-edge contemporary explorations to his background in classical music. This immaculate balance of idioms gives rise to an abundance of colours and timbres, explored by a pianist, who has successfully forged his very own voice as improviser and shape-designer.
In his approach to improvisation, he notes, shapes and textures set the direction for the development of material: “I don’t want to be confined to any specific key or time signature, but rather leave the freedom to continually re-evaluate things in real-time and see them from a new perspective over and over again. That’s also why I tried to go into the session with as few preconceived ideas as possible.” In light of this spontaneous sense of creation, it is striking how completely formed many of the miniaturesque designs on the album unfurl. Nitai mentions inspirations as seemingly disparate as Chick Corea and Russian composers Rachmaninoff and Scriabin guiding him in the process.
Recorded at the Auditorio Stelio Molo in Lugano in 2022, the specific acoustic properties of the studio too play into the fabric of Nitai’s musical developments, as did his exchanges with producer Manfred Eicher. Nitai: “In the studio very few words are spoken. With Manfred, it’s like there’s another musician in the room, reflecting, reacting and reshaping the music in the moment.” Call on the Old Wise is a testimony to Nitai Hershkovits’s unique inventiveness as well as an essential addition to ECM’s celebrated line of solo piano recordings.
Born to a Moroccan mother and a Polish father, Nitai originally started out his musical path on clarinet before switching to the piano at age 15. Jazz and improvised music were the focal point of his musical investigations throughout his teens, with a particularly strong interest for the idiosyncrasies of Sonny Rollins. In this period, Nitai won several jazz competitions in the Tel Aviv area, before his deepened interest in classical music took shape, leading to studies in both jazz – with Omer vital and bassist Avishai Cohen i.a. – and classical piano, with Menahem Weisenberg and Amir Pedorovits. After a five year-spell in Avishai Cohen’s trio (2011-2016), Nitai moved to New York, where he played in numerous groups, among them Oded Tzur’s quartet, of which he continues to be part today. He has recently moved back to Israel, where he is involved with a variety of musical projects, including collaborations with electronic musician Yuvi Havkin aka Rejoicer and drummer Amir Bresler, who can be heard on their joint venture Apifera.
2024 September 06 Halle 424 Hamburg, Germany
2024 September 08 Ems Jazz Festival Greven, Germany
2024 October 09 Flagey Brussels, Belgium
2024 October 10 Beethovenhaus Bonn, Germany
2024 October 11 Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore Bergamo, Italy
2024 October 13 La Marotte Affoltern, Switzerland
2024 October 14 Stadthaus Ulm, Germany
2024 October 15 30CC Leuven, Belgium
2024 October 16 CC Het Spoor Harelbeke, Belgium
2024 October 18 Jazz & The City Festival Salzburg, Austria
2024 October 19 Paliesius Manor Paliesius, Lithuania
2024 October 20 Weltmusikfestival Grenzenlos Murnau, Germany
2024 October 27 Triskel Arts Centre Cork, Ireland