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“tangy, exotic flavor…”
—All Music Guide
“rhythmically intriguing and virtuosic improvisation”
—Latin Jazz Corner
“flawless sound, amazing technique…intimate yet vivid…a master of his instrument”
Itai Kriss is a dynamic flutist whose musical style encompasses Jazz, Latin and Middle Eastern sounds. Born into a musical household in Israel, to a British father and a South African mother, Itai started playing flute when he was 9. Alongside private lessons, he broadened his knowledge of music in the jazz streams of the Tel Aviv School for the Arts (’90-’94) and the prestigious Telma Yellin High School for the Arts (94-97). At Telma Yellin, an interest in swing, bebop and hard bop, along with his love for local Middle Eastern sounds, led to a period of experimentation in an ensemble of friends that resulted in Itai winning the Jerusalem Municipality competition for young composers. That grant financed the recording and release of his first album, Sababa, in 2000.
In January 2002 Itai toured the United States as part of a unique musical peace expedition headed by renowned saxophonist Arnie Lawrence--an ensemble of leading Jewish and Arab Israeli musicians, performing at various venues in Los Angeles, Miami and New York. Later that month he was again invited to play at New York's Blue Note as a special guest. This successful appearance launched Itai’s New York career.
Itai currently resides in New York where he continues to play with some of the most exciting jazz musicians in town, including Dafnis Prieto, Harry Whitaker, Joe Locke, Gregory Hutchinson, Andy Gonzalez, Omer Avital, Pedro Martinez, Yosvany Terry, Edmar Castaneda, Avishai Cohen, Eric McPherson, Jason Lindner, Alon Yavnai, and Aaron Goldberg, to name a few.
A selected list of venues Itai has performed in includes The Blue Note, Birdland, the Jazz Standard, S.O.B.’s, Carnegie Hall, Zinc Bar, Smalls, Joe’s Pub, Fat Cat, Smoke, Nublu, Nuyorican Poets Café, St Nick's Pub and The Copa Cabana.
In 2008 Itai participated in the prestigious Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead residency program for emerging performers and composers, at the John F. Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts. During the residency, Itai developed and performed new compositions, working closely with such jazz legends as Curtis Fuller, Nathan Davis and Dr. Billy Taylor. Some of these compositions appear on The Shark Itai’s latest album, featuring Aaron Golberg, Omer Avital and Eric McPherson (released in 2011).
Besides working on The Shark, Itai Kriss is currently involved in writing for and playing in a variety of ensembles including The Itai Kriss Quartet, The Salsa All Stars, and La Bola. Itai is also an arranger, producer and musical director for Latin, jazz and pop recordings and shows.