picture of Sam Yahel
Sam Yahel
One of the more distinctive voices among a new breed of Hammond B-3 organ players on the jazz scene, Sam Yahel has earned the top spot in Down Beat's annual International Critics Poll as a Talent Deserving Of Recognition for the past four consecutive years. Since moving to New York in 1990, Yahel has worked with a string of notable jazz artists including tenor saxophonists Joshua Redman and Eric Alexander, former James Brown sideman and alto sax great Maceo Parker, guitarists Peter Bernstein and Bill Frisell, trumpeters Ryan Kisor and Jim Rotondi as well as having played on Norah Jones' Grammy-winning Come Away With Me as well as on recordings vocalists Lizz Wright and Madeleine Peyroux. But it has been as a solo artist in his own right that Yahel has made his most personal statements as both composer and player.
 
Originally a pianist, Yahel had his organ epiphany back in 1990 while studying jazz at the New School. As he recalls: "A friend of mine needed to rent an organ for an upcoming gig and he invited me to come down to SIR studios to tag along while he picked one out. Up to that point I had never even seen a real Hammond. So I went over there and we got into the room where they had a B3 set up, and it just immediately hit me. Before my friend had even played a note I was completely captivated by this thing. It was mammoth and made out of this beautiful wood, the Leslie speaker was humming and the motor was spinning and the horn inside the Leslie was rotating slowly. And when once I actually heard it, my first thought was 'I have to have one of these.'"
 
Within a month of that initial encounter with the hulking Hammond B-3, Yahel had bought his first organ, a portable variety, and shortly after began playing gigs with it. Since then Yahel has been able to scope out his own direction on the instrument. Yahel's approach to the organ is distinctive in that it is not rooted in the greasy B3 tradition of pioneering players like Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff and Jack McDuff. "A lot of the B3 history comes from the church, so there is an exuberance there and a kind of praising element there, which is a wonderful part of the tradition of the B3. And that's definitely a part of what I do but I wouldn't say that it's the overall defining characteristic of what I do. I find that the B3 is capable of enormous subtlety and traditionally it's not really been used in that way all the time. But I tend to lean towards that more subtle approach in my own playing."
contact: sam@samyahel.com
homepage: www.samyahel.com
on tour Click on the logo to see Sam's tour dates.

 

Discography
Searchin'
Naxos 86004-2
recorded April 1996 in New York City/USA
Sam Yahel, Hammond B-3 organ
Ryan Kisor, trumpet
Peter Bernstein, guitar
Joe Strasser, drums
Eric Alexander, tenor sax
Battle Cry
Criss Cross 1145
recorded October 1997 in New York City/USA
Ryan Kisor, trumpet
Sam Yahel, Hammond B-3 organ
Peter Bernstein, guitar
Brian Blade, drums
Trio
Criss Cross 1158
recorded December 1997 in New York City/USA
Sam Yahel, organ
Peter Bernstein, guitar
Brian Blade, drums
In The Blink Of An Eye
Naxos 86043-2
recorded April 1999 in New York City/USA
Sam Yahel, Hammond B-3 organ
Peter Bernstein, guitar
Brian Blade, drums
Kahlil Kwame Bell, percussion
Soul Proprietor
Criss Cross 1216
recorded May 2001 in USA
Ralph Bowen, tenor sax
John Swana, trumpet
Peter Bernstein, guitar
Sam Yahel, organ
Brian Blade, drums
Come Away With Me
Blue Note 7243 5 32088 2 0
recorded 2002 in New York City/USA
Norah Jones, vocals, piano
Lee Alexander, bass
Jesse Harris, guitars
Dan Rieser, drums
Kevin Breit, guitar
Brian Blade, drums Adam Levy, guitar
Sam Yahel, Hammond B-3 organ
Jenny Scheinman, violin
Elastic
Warner Bros. 9362-48279-2
recorded 2002 in USA
Joshua Redman, saxes
Sam Yahel, organ, piano
Brian Blade, drums
Yaya³
Loma Records 9362-48277-2
recorded January 2002 in New York City/USA
Joshua Redman, saxes
Sam Yahel, organ, piano
Brian Blade, drums
Circles
Criss 1235 CD
recorded December 2002 in Brooklyn, NY/USA
Jesse van Ruller, guitar
Seamus Blake, tenor sax
Sam Yahel, Hammond B-3 organ
Bill Stewart, drums
Bop On Pop
JazzKey Music 5080
recorded March 2000 and February 2001
Ben Perowsky, drums
Frank Perowsky, sax, clarinet
Sam Yahel, organ
Live In Austin, TX
Live At The Continental Club
recorded April 2004 in Austin, TX/USA
Bill Frisell, guitar
Sam Yahel, organ
Brian Blade, drums
Live At Jazz Standard 2004
Live At Jazz Standard 004
recorded May 2004 in New York City, NY/USA
Bill Frisell, guitar
Sam Yahel, organ
Brian Blade, drums
New Vistas
Criss Cross Jazz 1251 CD
recorded November 2003 in Brooklyn, NY/USA
Jim Rotondi, trumpet, flugelhorn
Peter Bernstein, guitar
Chris Potter, tenor sax, flute
Sam Yahel, organ
Bill Stewart, drums
Monumentum
Nonesuch 7559-79864-2
recorded 2005 in Englewood, NJ and North Hollywood, CA and New York, NY/USA
Joshua Redman, tenor sax, keyboards
Sam Yahel, organ, keyboards
Jeff Ballard, drums
Brian Blade, drums
Peter Bernstein, guitar
Flea, Electric bass
Jeff Parker, guitar
Eric Krasno, guitar
Meshell Ndegeocello, bass
Stefon Harris, vibes
Kurt Rosenwinkel, guitar
Nicholas Payton, trumpet
Questlove, drums
Live At Yoshi's Oakland
recorded live 31 December 2005 in Oakland, CA/USA
Joshua Redman, tenor sax
Sam Yahel, organ
Brian Blade, drums
Half The Perfect World
Rounder Records 11661-3252-2
recorded April 2006 in Los Angeles, CA/USA
Madeleine Peyroux, vocals, guitar
Sam Yahel, piano, Hammond organ, Estey organ
Larry Goldings, celeste
Till Brönner, trumpet
Gary Foster, alto sax
Dean Parks, guitar
Greg Leisz, pedal steel guitar
David Piltch, double bass
Scott Amendola, drums
Jay Bellerose, drums, cymbals
String quartet arranged by Mark Orton
Mysterious Shorter
Chesky Records SACD321
recorded April 2006 in New York City/USA
Nicholas Payton, trumpet
Bob Belden, soprano sax, tenor sax
Sam Yahel, Hammond B-3 organ
Billy Drummond, guitar
John Hart, drums
Truth And Beauty
Origin Records 82479
recorded September 2005 in New York City/USA
Sam Yahel, Hammond B-3 organ
Joshua Redman, tenor sax
Brian Blade, drums
Impressions
Chesky Records SACD337
recorded September 2007 at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, New York City/USA
Larry Coryell, guitar
Sam Yahel, Hammond B-3 organ
Paul Wertico, drums
Jazz Side Of The Moon
Chesky Records SACD338
recorded at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, New York City/USA
Sam Yahel, Hammond B-3 organ
Ari Hoenig, drums
Mike Moreno, guitar
Seamus Blake, tenor sax
From Sun to Sun
Origin Records OJ 82596
recorded May 2010
Sam Yahel, piano, Hammond B-3 organ
Matt Penman, bass
Jochen Rückert, drums
Covers
Blue Note 50999 7 35022 2 7
compilation
Norah Jones, vocals, piano
Sam Yahel, organ
Adam Levy, guitar
Lee Alexander, bass
Andrew Borger, drums
Kevin Breit, mandolin
The Best Of Madeleine Peyroux
Rounder Records 0888072361577
compilation
Madeleine Peyroux, vocals, guitar
Faith Jefferson Houston, vocals
Dean Parks, guitar
Marc Ribot, guitar
Duke McVinnie, guitar, bass
Christopher Bruce, guitar
Larry Goldings, piano, Hammond organ, Estey organ
Sam Yahel, piano, Hammond organ, Estey organ
John Kirby, keyboards
Patrick Warren, keyboards
Cyrus Chestnut, piano
Charlie Giordano, accordion, organ
Gary Foster, alto sax
James Carter, tenor sax
Till Brönner, trumpet
David Piltch, bass
Meshell Ndegeocello, bass
Larry Klein, bass
Steve Kirby, bass
Greg Cohen, bass
Jay Bellerose, drums
Charlie Drayton, drums
Vinnie Colaiuta, drums
Leon Parker, drums
Scott Amendola, drums
Kenny Wollesen, drums, percussion
Robert Burke, drums
Regina Carter, violin
Jane Carpantoni, cello
Mark Orton, String quartet arrangement
The Optimist
Igloo Records IGL304
Toine Thys, soprano sax, tenor sax, bass clarinet
Sam Yahel, Hammond organ
Hervé Samb, guitar
Karl Jannuska, drums
Ancient Grains
Positone 8221
Will Bernard, guitar
Sam Yahel, Hammond B-3 organ
Donald Edwards, drums

 
Videos
Madeleine Peyroux Live In Los Angeles 2009
recorded 2009 in Los Angeles, CA/USA
Madeleine Peyroux, vocals, guitar
Jim Beard, piano
Lisa Germano, violin
Larry Klein, bass
Dean Parks, guitar
Joey Waronker, drums
Sam Yahel, organ

 
Sound Samples
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YouTube videos
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