Yamaha Artist Services is pleased to announce the addition of cellists Jacob Szekely and Mike Block and bassist Charley Sabatino to the Yamaha Artist family.
All three are fulfilling their creative musical visions using Yamaha electric string instruments.
Szekely, a cellist, is one of the most active and influential musicians in the creative string community in Los Angeles, which focuses on playing styles that involve improvisation. Block, a Juilliard graduate who lives in Boston, is a longtime member of Yo Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble and is heavily into the electric cello for his compositional work. Sabatino, a seasoned jazz bassist, plays a diverse range of gigs and styles and is based in New York City.
Both Szekely and Block play the Yamaha SVC-210sk Silent Cello, while Sabatino performs on the SLB-200LTD Limited Edition Silent Bass. All three musicians rave about the organic feel and response of their Yamaha instruments.
“It’s the closest thing to an upright bass in sound and feel, it’s just wonderful,” says Sabatino of the SLB-200LTD.
Block talks similarly about the SVC-210sk. “It feels like an acoustic instrument, which is really the exciting thing. Even when a cellist is playing electric music, we’re still often evoking the acoustic sound of a cello.”
“Yamaha has done its homework,” observes Szekely. “They’ve created an instrument that a classically-trained musician—which is what 98 percent of string players are—can sit down and just feel comfortable with, instantly.”
The players all tout the portability of their Yamaha Silent instruments, and how that makes their lives easier. “You can fold it up. You can travel with it. It’s weather proof, as far as playing outdoors,” Szekely says of his SVC-210sk. “I can take it in situations where I would not want to take my regular cello.”
Sabatino, Block and Szekely were also drawn to Yamaha because of its special relationship with its artists. “No company in the world supports their artists like Yamaha,” Szekely says, “I don’t think that’s controversial or debatable.”
When it comes to instrument design, Block is also impressed with the willingness Yamaha demonstrates in seeking input from its artists. “Yamaha has a reputation for meaningful collaboration,” he says, “Which is why their instruments feel so great to play and use.”
All three musicians are heavily involved with music education. Szekely runs String Project Los Angeles, a school dedicated to creative string playing. Block is a professor at Berklee College of Music and runs The Mike Block String Camp. Sabatino has been teaching bass for over 30 years, and now has a worldwide clientele of students via the Internet. They all appreciate the dedication to music education that Yamaha has shown.
“Yamaha is actively involved on the ground level of promoting music education in its many forms,” Block says. “I’m grateful for this opportunity to collaborate with them.”
“It would be hard for me to understate their commitment to music education,” says Szekely. ”I have a unique perspective, because I’m not only an artist and a teacher, but I’m also a school owner. Yamaha is unlike any other company on earth.”
The three artists all have upcoming projects in which their Yamaha instruments will be front and center. Szekely is promoting and playing at the 6th annual L.A. Creative String Festival and recording a new album with his trio. Block is recording a new solo album that’s due out in 2018, and Sabatino be appearing at the Uncool Festival in Switzerland and the Stockholm Jazz Festival with his free-improvised jazz group, The Velocity Duo.
For more information on the Yamaha Artists roster, visit www.yamaha.com/artists/