Primary Instrument: Percussion
Percussionist Chen Zimbalista is a force of nature. Exhibiting preternatural musical skills since he was a child, this Israeli-born performer has gone on to master over 40 exotic instruments from dozens of countries, and has proven himself equally adept at performing complex Classical compositions as he is at home with World music and jazz.
On stage, Zimbalista is an explosive, riveting presence. His energetic shows are a visceral experience that must be seen, not only heard. His disarming stage manner and raw physicality manage to engage even the most reserved audiences to become active participants in the event. He's an international 'best kept secret' -- about to electrify America....
More from The LA TIMES review: Zimbalista made easy work of Hadas Goldschmidt-Halfon's fascinating new percussion concerto, Knock on Wood, with its difficult two-handed polyrhythms on marimba, bongos, temple blocks and tom-toms and its gently syncopated slow movement on triangles and glockenspiel. And with conductor Noreen Green and orchestra scrambling to keep pace, Zimbalista impishly led everyone, including us, in a frantic Shlomo Gronich scherzo called Go... The Los Angeles Times, By Richard S. Ginell
Zimbalista uses his entire body to coax rhythmic sounds from his fascinating array of instruments, which range from the well-known marimba to the more obscure (and rare) handmade Zilgian Turkish cymbals, to Chinese Crotales Bells, to 15 different tambourines from seven different countries. Here's a sampling of some of the percussive objects Chen brings to life, with brief descriptions by the artist himself:
4 Marimbas- 3 in Israel 1 in Berlin
1. Musser Marimba: This is my first 4 octave marimba, that my parents bought me in 1980 (after my mom sold her car!) I now endorse Musser instruments.
2. Saito: 4,5 octave Japanese marimba that I got from the American Israel Culture Foundation.
3. Two 5 octave Musser that I got about 8 years ago. All marimbas have special rosewood bars that are from Belize in S. America.
4. An African marimba that I got as a present in Angola (after a Peace concert that we played there, in a refugee camp).
5. 2 Musser Vibes: one in Israel, one in Berlin. The one in Israel is very old & special, I bought it in NY, in 1990, from a recording studio, despite being old, it has the best, warmest sound on Earth.
6. Xylophone - my first mallet instrument that my parents bought me at age of 12 (I still use it).
Bells: A small set that I found in an old music shop in Tel Aviv…the store owner got it from the Egyptian Army band after the Six Day War! Amazing set.
Cymbals: 20-25 cymbals
A special set of two 20" Zilgian Istanbul cymbals that were hand made in Turkey before the factory moved to the US, and before they changed the production to machine made.
Gongs: 20 gongs
All different sizes & sounds, as well as a set of tuned gongs from China, Tibet & who knows where else! Sized from 10"-50". Some were found in little markets, in different countries. One gong I bought from a guy in Brooklyn when I was student at the Brooklyn Conservatory. He needed money, and it was a beautiful sounding gong, so I bought from him.
Bells & Crotales: (a bell made of heavier metal, and have different sizes, and are from China): from all over that I usually found in different markets around the globe.
2 concert bass drums
4 Kick bass drums
2 Kodo Chinese Drums
3 Duki (Indian tunable Drums)
5 tom toms (Sonor, Germany)
6 Snare Drums
15-tambourines- from Israel, Egypt, Brazil, Indian, Italia, Buchara, Maroko. Tablas-India
4 Dumbeks- from the Sinai desert & Cairo. I was on vacation in Sinai with my family, and came across a guy who asked to buy my 10 year old daughter, for 3,000 camels. I said no thanks, but I'll take your Dumbek. Then there was much haggling over the cost of the drum. But, I got it for about $120. No camels were exchanged.
20 Temple blocks, cow bells & wood blocks
2 Tympanis that my teacher, Morris Lang, built for me in NY
Around 300 marimba sticks & other percussion sticks