yuval amihai - bio

Jazz guitarist, composer and bandleader Yuval Amihai was born in Beer Sheva, Israel. He started learning piano at the age of 8 and switched to the electric guitar at 13. By the age of 16, he was leading his own bands and performing regularly around the country.

At the age of 19, during his mandatory military service, Yuval found great inspiration in classical guitar music and composed a chamber music piece for guitar piano and a string quartet, learning from records and books along the writing process. His music was selected to be featured in a series of concerts by the city of Beer Shava’s municipal symphonic orchestra dedicated to music by young composers from the southern region of Israel of the Negev. Yuval performed his music along with the city’s string quartet in several venues around Israel. Following his participation in this project, Yuval was commissioned to compose another original piece for the city’s string quartet featuring renowned oud and violin player Yair Dalal. 

Seeking to go further in that direction and to broaden his education, Yuval spent the following years focusing mainly on studying classical music, while maintaining an active performing schedule as a jazz guitarist. He attended the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Rimon School of Music, where he was also a finalist in the school’s Jazz player competition, and studied composition, piano, and classical guitar with some of the country's top teachers. 

In 2006, Yuval moved to Paris, France, and quickly became a leading figure in the local jazz scene. He soon formed his quintet, the Yuval Amihai Ensemble, and won two of the most prestigious jazz competitions in France: the Jazz at Saint-Germain-des-Pres Competition, where he won the First Prize (Best Ensemble) and the National Jazz Competition of La Defense, where he won the Grand Prize (Best Ensemble) and Best Composer Prize. The band also won the third prize at the Hoeilaart International Jazz Competition in Belgium. In the following years, they performed regularly in various clubs, venues, and festivals in Paris and throughout France and Europe.

In 2012 Yuval released his first album, YUVAL AMIHAI ENSEMBLE, featuring mostly his original compositions, strongly echoing the sounds and culture he absorbed growing up in Israel. Following the release, Yuval won a full grant from the French Copyright Organization, Sacem. The album received positive reviews in French media and was featured in many national and international playlists and radio shows. In 2014, Yuval started traveling regularly to New York City and found a new source of great inspiration in its culture and its unique and vibrant music scene. While still living in Paris, he started shifting the focus of his work to the more minimalist trio format and formed the Yuval Amihai Trio, which performed regularly in many venues all around France. In the ensuing years, Yuval recorded his next two albums as a leader  LONGING in 2015 (released on French label L'Autre Distribution), and I AIN’T GOT NOTHIN’ BUT THE BLUES in 2018, (Fresh Sound New Talent). Both albums received positive reviews in numerous jazz radio shows, websites, and magazines.

In 2018, Yuval relocated for the second time and moved to New York City. Once again, soon after his arrival he became highly involved in the local jazz scene and started to perform regularly in some of the city’s greatest jazz clubs and venues, sharing the stage with many of the scene's top musicians.