Standard Sounds

Talkin' All That Jazz: Dana Herz

We sat down with New York jazz singer Dana Herz before she performs for our Sunset Jazz series at The Top of The Standard on Wednesday, January 11th.

THE STANDARD: You started studying music when you were 8-years-old and living in Israel. Can you share with us one of your earliest memories of music as a child?
DANA HERZ: I grew up in a musical house with my mother teaching piano and a violinist brother, so every time I got home from school, there was music all over the house all the time. One of my earliest memories is finding my mom's Carol King music book. I immediately fell in love and started to teach myself piano so I could accompany myself while singing these great songs.

"For me, jazz is first of all an art form that stands for freedom and self-expression."

Being born and raised in Jerusalem, how would you describe the influence of the city on your musical background? 
Jerusalem is definitely a city which holds many complexities. There's so much energy in this city that grows great artists and musicians. Especially today, the music scene in Jerusalem is prospering and there are many things happening over there.

You lived in Tel Aviv to study jazz at the Center for Jazz Studies before moving to New York.
The Jazz Center in Tel Aviv has a great program with the New School in New York, which allows students to start their degree in Tel Aviv and then complete it in NY. There are so many talented musicians in Israel, and it definitely gives the young jazz musicians an opportunity to grow. 

Dana Herz's "I Won't Cry"

New York is surely the most inspiring city, but it's also a challenging place to live as a jazz musician. How do you deal with that balance?
Many people have warned me that NYC can crush me and that it's not an easy place to live in, especially as an artist, but honestly, I love being here! I don't feel crushed in any way, and I feel inspired by the amazing artists all over the city. Yes, I have to work very hard in order to be here and to do what I want, but it's all part of it, and I'm loyal to my goal. [Laughs.] I'm also planning to record my first album in the summer with my original music and I'm very excited about it!

We had a chat with NY jazzman James Weidman, and he said "jazz remains a creative art-form, which extends beyond music.” Do you have a personal example or experience that puts jazz beyond music?
I guess jazz could mean many things to different people. For me, jazz is first of all an art form that stands for freedom and self-expression, which is my main connecting point to this genre. I feel that especially in our times, it is very important to support these values of individuality and self-expression in any way.

Dana Herz's "Skylark"

What’s your most classic New York jazz moment?
When I played a gig and ran out of songs towards the end of the set, so we just made up a song on the spot, both the music and lyrics. Afterwards, someone came up and asked us,“Wow, what was the last song you played?” [Laughs.] 

You will be performing with your band at The Top of The Standard. Are you coming with your band?
I'll perform a duo show with Shachar Elnatan, an amazing guitar player who can actually make music from anything he touches. Shachar and I have been very close friends since high school. We had our first gig when we were 15, and since then we've been playing, performing, writing, and recording together. Shachar and I have a great understanding of music and we support each other a lot. I'm looking forward to playing at 
The Top of The Standard with him!

Wednesday, January 11th
Dana Herz 
featuring Shachar Elnatan (guitar)
Sunset Jazz, 4-9pm
The Top of The Standard
The Standard, High Line

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