Yoron Israel

Affiliated Departments
drum set technique
vibraphone technique
jazz music
gospel music
music publishing/licensing
funk music
live music/touring

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Yoron Israel is a drummer, percussionist, composer, band leader, educator, and author. Formerly a faculty member at Rutgers University, William Paterson University, and Mannes New School. He is department chair and professor of percussion at Berklee College of Music.

Israel also serves as pastor of music and arts at Destiny Life Center International church in Randolph, MA. He has performed with such varied and notable artists as Otis Clay, Shirley Caesar, Sonny Rollins, Abbey Lincoln, Ahmad Jamal, Benny Golson, David "Fathead" Newman, Curtis Fuller, Art Farmer, Joe Lovano, and many more. In addition, Israel is featured on over 250 recordings with various illustrious artists as an accompanist. As a leader, Israel has recorded seven albums, including his most recent being, New Dreams, featuring his ensemble Trio Plus. Other critically acclaimed works include This Moment and Visions: The Music of Stevie Wonder with his quartet High Standards; Basic Traneing, which reached no. 3 on the National Jazz Charts; Chicago, with Israel's organ group, Organic; Live at the Blue Note and A Gift for You, featuring his quintet Connection. As a coleader of the Yoron Israel/Frank Walton Sextet, Israel has produced three recordings, including Live in Chicago, The Back Step, and Live at the Hothouse. Israel tours regularly with pianist Laszlo Gardony, the Makanda Project, vocalist Shawn Monteiro, and vibraphonist Jay Hoggard when not leading his own bands.

Israel's influences include jazz, world, gospel, contemporary Christian, funk, R&B, and orchestral music. He received his Bachelor of Music from Roosevelt University and a Master of Music from Rutgers University. He has been recognized in publications such as Jazz.com, Variety, Jazz Improv Magazine, DownBeat, Jazz Times, Modern Drummer, Stick It, and Percussive Notes. Additionally, Israel is the author of the educational DVD Creative Jazz Improvisation for Drum Set (Hal Leonard/Berklee Press). He continues to teach privately and conducts clinics, workshops, residencies, and music camps worldwide.

Career Highlights
  • Leader of Trio Plus, High Standards, Connection, and Organic
  • Has led other ensembles and projects that include tribute bands such as James Williams ICU Revisited, Musical Tribute to David Fathead Newman
  • Seven recordings as a leader and three recordings as a coleader with the Yoron Israel/Frank Walton Sextet. All have charted in the top 25 of National Jazz Charts, with Basic Traneing peaking at no. 3
  • Featured accompanist on over 250 recordings with varied artists
  • Pastor of music and arts, music director, drummer, keyboardist, vocal coach, Destiny Life Center International church, Randolph MA (2017–present), and formerly at Victory World Church, Canton MA (2011–2017)
  • Owner and president of the music publishing, production, and record company Ronja Music
  • Founder, producer, and artistic director of the concert series Jazz in the Sanctuary since 2017
  • Performed throughout the world and recorded with some of the most highly regarded artists in jazz and gospel music including: Sonny Rollins, Ahmad Jamal, Horace Silver, Abbey Lincoln, Tony Bennett, and Shirley Caesar
  • Former teachers Include: drum set: Alan Dawson; piano, improvisation, harmony: Rollins Ross; composition, arranging: Michael P. Mossman; mallets (vibraphone and marimba): Ed Saindon; orchestral percussion: Edward Poremba; West African percussion and music: Mohammed Alidu, various studies in Ghana, Togo, and Benin; world and hand percussion: Jamey Haddad (frame drum) and Angel “Figgy” Figueroa (conga, timbales) at Percussion Artists Workshop, Chicago, IL; jazz improvisation: Ted Dumbar; and history, research: Lewis Porter 
  • Theatrical experiences include major productions of:Ain't Misbehavin', Best of Both Worlds, Mama I Want to Sing, A Chorus Line, A...My Name Is Alice, The Marriage of Figaro, and Carmina Burana 
  • Former member of the Chicago Civic Orchestra, Skokie Valley Symphony, and Henry Street Settlement Symphony (NYC)
  • Recipient of five Berklee Chair Recording Grants
  • Berklee Percussion Department recognized as 2021 Modern Drummer Reader's Poll as Best Educational Institution, under the leadership of Yoron Israel
  • Current endorsements include: Zildjian Cymbals, Evans Drum Heads, Sonor Drums, Vic Firth Signature Drum Sticks, Earthworks Microphones, and Cympad Accessories
  • Contributing author (forwards): A Manual for the Modern Drummer, Alan Dawson (Berklee Press); Syncopation Companion, Bryan Bowman (Sher Music), Sonny's Bridge, Barry Wittenstein (Charlesbridge Publishing)
  • Featured interview in January/February 2022 volume of Modern Drummer 
  • Ordained as pastor, Destiny Life Center International Church, 2018
  • B.M., Roosevelt University, orchestral percussion
  • M.M., Rutgers University, jazz performance
In Their Own Words

"Some of the things I emphasize in my teaching are: the development of solid time and feel, three- and four-way coordination, stylistic groove patterns, hand technique, reading, chart interpretation, repertoire, dynamics, sound, and touch. In particular, the latter four are subtle aspects of music making that can often be overlooked. However, in real-world situations, these are vital for one's success as a thriving professional. For that reason, I want my students—no matter the style, instrumentation, or size of the venue they might find themselves in—to be able to consistently produce, demonstrate, and maintain a high level of intensity and musicality in their performances. Consequently, developing relevant repertoire and a keener sense of dynamics, touch, and sound are crucial elements that I cover in my classes and private lessons to facilitate them to do just that."

As a lifelong learner of the music, the instruments I play, and the industry in which I work, I am forever growing; therefore, the students I interact with daily inspire me, particularly in having the opportunity to witness their development, growth and evolution. Secondly, as a professional, I have been blessed to have many dedicated and outstanding music educators, performers, and mentors from whom I learned countless valuable lessons. In my role at Berklee, it is an honor knowing that I am continuing those important legacies. Through my interaction with students, they are indirectly learning from the likes of Horace Silver, Art Farmer, Abbey Lincoln, David "Fathead" Newman, James Williams, and so many more of my mentors."

In the Berklee Percussion Department, we pride ourselves on developing fundamentally sound, versatile, and well-informed musicians whose principal instrument might be drum set, hand percussion, marimba, orchestral percussion, steel pan, or vibraphone. We offer a multitude of labs (group lessons), classes, ensembles, and private lessons covering a gamut of techniques, styles, concepts, and trends in contemporary, folkloric, and traditional musical idioms. In doing so, the Percussion Department employs over 40 world-class educators who are all practitioners and specialists in their craft. Our facilities are second to none, as they are well equipped to support our multi-faceted curriculum, vision, and diverse student population."

Berklee College of Music is an important place for musicians to study because of the wealth of academic and practical knowledge available to them. There is no other college, university, or institution in the world where student musicians can interact with the level of musical experts and world-class practitioners represented among the illustrious faculty, administration, and staff. Also, the networking opportunities at Berklee are second to none. History has proven that peer relationships established on our Boston, Valencia, New York, and online campuses could potentially propel life-long careers."