After becoming one of the most prominent studio guitarists in Israel, Oz Noy decided to set his sites on the U.S. In 1996, he moved to New York City, where he brought his unique brand of jazz, which he admits might not sound like the jazz you're used to. The fusion guitarist is clearly influenced by blues and rock music also, and while it might surprise some, he enjoys some of today's top 40 music as well.
Noy has performed, toured or recorded with some of the biggest names in the history of popular music, including Sting, Don Henley, Cyndi Lauper, Nile Rodgers and The Allman Brothers.
His latest album, "Booga Looga Loo," is available now. The primarily instrumental record is made up of mainly original compositions, but also features new takes on a few classic songs.
Ben Province: You've been in the U.S. for more than two decades now, but can you describe what it was like for you when you first came over?
Oz Noy: N.Y.C. actually kind of reminded me of Tel Aviv in a weird kind of a way, so it didn’t [feel] too foreign, but the jazz scene completely blew my mind! ... Still is the only place in the world for that kind of music.
BP: You had already become an established musician in Israel in the '90s. Did it feel like starting over as a an artist when you moved to N.Y.?
ON: Absolutely, but it was a great benefit developing my craft in Israel, 'cause i was able to work a lot there and developed as a musician playing high-profile gigs while I didn’t need to be the on a real high level.
BP: You've gotten to perform, record or tour with so many stars in the music world. Is there one story in particular story that stands out that you could share?
ON: I was in the house band for the Songwriter Hall of Fame concert that happens every year in N.Y.C. You backup a lot of different artists, so i got to play the rhythm guitar part to Aerosmith's “Walk This Way” with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. That was really freakin’ cool! It's actually a pretty tricky guitar part to play.
BP: Another collaborator was Steve Ferrone of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, who was one of the drummers on "Booga Looga Loo." I am a huge fan of the Heartbreakers. How did you two connect?
ON: I’ve been a fan of Steve for many years! He’s one of the greats. We met maybe 10 or 15 years ago in some festival, and then I called him to play with me. in the beginning he said "Your playing is too complicated for me,” but I insisted that it's not, and he would sound great on it, which he did! We’ve been playing ever since, whenever I get the opportunity! He’s a very dear friend of mine.
BP: And you cover some of rock's greatest artists on this album: The Beach Boys, The Beatles and Ray Charles. How do you go about adapting a song like "Eight Days a Week" to what you do?
ON: If I find a cool angle where I feel that I’m bringing my own thing to the song, then I’ll give it a try. It also needs to fit the guitar and my playing style.
The interview was conducted by email and has been edited. For more interviews, check out our podcast.