RIP Brilliant Young Jazz Pianist Shimrit Shoshan at 29

While I always talk about how I love getting to hear so much great music that people share with me, but what is even better is getting to known and chat with so many great artists. People like Jason Parker, Dave Chisholm, and many more are just wonderful people as well as great artists with tremendous creative vision. And so it is with great sadness that I report the passing of one of the kindest and warmest artists I have gotten to know through reviewing music for Gear Diary – Shimrit Shoshan.

In terms of music, Shimmy had released a single album in late 2010, which I featured in a review roundup in early 2011. Here is what I said about my favorite song:

Secret Identity – it is ironic that the video Shimrit Shoshan sent me was of this song, since it was my favorite already – and hearing her duet rehearsal with Eric McPherson only strengthened that feeling. ‘Enigmatic’ is my one-word description for this trio piece. You move from a slightly whimsical introduction to a sort of ‘cat & mouse’ structure, then to a hopeful passage and back to the second structure that has you questioning things again. All the time the trio is playing off each other in syncopated structures. If is fun and interesting, and the contributions are great by everyone.

I had figured it to land near the top of my Top Music of 2011 except that it wasn’t eligible as a 2010 release, so I noted:

So I settled on Jazz and improvised music, started making a mental list of the best stuff I had heard, consulted my reviews from early in the year and … realized that two of my favorites were 2010 releases! So with apologies to the great albums from Shimrit Shoshan and Sam Trapchak (both of which you should REALLY check out, they would have made my 2010 list had I known about them!), they weren’t eligible.

Here is a chunk of her biography from her web site:

Israeli-born pianist and composer Shimrit Shoshan began playing the organ and flute when she was 8 years old. Entirely self-taught, Shimrit attended Israel’s prestigious Thelma Yellin School of the Arts. During her studies, she was drafted into the Israeli army, where Shimrit served as an “Excellent Musician,” a title reserved for a select few, while continuing performing and studying under some of Israel’s top musicians including; Amit Golan, Shai Zalman, Ofer Ganor, Amos Hoffman, Avishai Cohen and Rea Barness.

Eventually she set her mind on New York, “I came to New York for jazz. It’s where everyone comes to learn, and you have to study under someone to be someone – that’s how it works.” She began in 2004 at the Jazz Program of the City College of New York City and continued at The New School Jazz Program in 2006, acquiring numerous scholarships for her performances as well as her compositions.

In 2009, Shimrit was a top finalist in the Mary Lou Williams Women In Jazz Competition and the Thelonious Monk Institute Ensemble Competition. She has appeared at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Kitano, Sweet Rhythm, Cachacha Jazz ‘n’ Samba Club, Fat Cat and Smalls.

In her short time on the New York scene, Shimrit has shared the bandstand with Charlie Persip, Billy Hart, Billy K, David Shniter, Saul Rubin, Ned Gould, Abraham Burton, Nasheet Waits, Ben Street, John Hebert, Eric McPherson and Tarus Mateen, among others. She appears on Eric McPherson’s latest endeavor, “Continuum” (Smalls Records), has composed and recorded the music for poet Carla M. Cherry’s spoken word release, “Gnat Feathers & Butterfly Wings,” and will be featured on the forthcoming trio release from legendary drummer Charlie Persip with bassist Ben Street.

According to NPR’s Blog Supreme

Recently, Shimrit Shoshan suffered a sudden cardiac arrest. After a week in a coma, she was pronounced dead on the afternoon of Sunday, August 19. She was 29.

As I read remembrances such the those here and here … I see person after person refer to her “endlessly friendly and spirited nature”, as a “talented musician and pure spirit” by a journalist who met her last year in Israel, Smalls Jazz club called her “our friend & sister” and is holding a tribute this weekend, and more.

It is clear in the comments on Facebook that many people share the same feeling as me – whomever Shimrit Shoshan touched was left with feeling they had gained a friend; a warm, caring, fun-loving and freely sharing friend. When I was reviewing her album, she took time to record a clip that she shared with me in spite of being in between a variety of major gigs and tours. I got emails when she was in Israel as well as in New York; she always made the time to reach out.

Finally, here is a great video of her playing the classic Monk song Skippy:


Rest in peace Shimrit Shoshan. Your impact will be felt around the world and for a long time; you shared your soul and brightened the life of those around you.

Categories: Music Diary, News