Pianist Shai Maestro was born in Israel on February 5th 1987. He began playing classical piano at the age of 5 under the instruction of Ms. Irena Krivatz. His first exposure to Jazz music was at the age of 8 while listening to Oscar Peterson’s records and particularly “The Gershwin Songbook”.
“I couldn’t stop listening to that album. There was something about the way Oscar played the piano on that album. The combination of his light – crystal touch, , Gershwin’s incredibly beautiful songs and the way the band swung got me completely captivated” says Maestro.
“I remember listening to this album over and over again, discovering new details every time. Later on I found out that the track list had… (I think it was) ‘Summertime’ written twice! I thought that they had probably made a mistake there. Then, listening to these 2 tracks I realized they were completely different. They were improvising!! It sounded so different… That’s when I realized that in this music, you can question everything. It was a revelation for me”
Maestro was later accepted to the Thelma – Yellin High School of Performing Arts in Givataim, Israel where he completed his studies with honors. While taking extended literature classes, Shai was one of the few students combining a major both in the jazz and classical departments along with his regular studies.
At that time, Maestro continued his classical piano studies with Prof. Benjamin Oren of the Music Academy in Jerusalem. In 2002 and 2003 Maestro won the National Jazz Ensembles Competition “Jazz Signs” and in the years 2004-2010 he won scholarships from the America-Israel Cultural Fund for jazz piano.