Reut Regev isn't one to compromise, at least not when it comes to her daytime job. The 31-year-old Israeli-NYC resident jazz trombonist is simply intent on having her artistic say, come what may.
"Look, if you're going to do something you love you may as well go for broke," she states uncomplicatedly. In an ailing global economy, and in an area of the arts that is well past its heyday in the consumer popularity stakes, an "easier said than done" retort would be understandable.
Then again, Regev - who fronts a trio at Jerusalem's Yellow Submarine at 9:30 p.m. this Tuesday, with partner drummer Yigal Foni and bassist Assaf Hakimi - has been doing alright for herself in the epicenter of the jazz world for over a decade now, even if she has to vary her performing activity to keep the wolves at bay.
"I play in salsa bands, rock groups, all sorts of things but I enjoy it all. I suppose that is some kind of compromise, but when I'm doing my own thing I never compromise," she says.
Regev's "own thing" comes through loud and clear in her debut album, This is R* Time, which came out earlier this year. The nine tracks, all penned by Regev, cover wide stylistic and genre terrain, encompassing grungy rock, balladic material, electronic sounds, straight-ahead jazz, free jazz, blues and even some Middle Eastern beats.
Regev embarked on her musical odyssey at the age of 5, when her parents brought home a small electric organ. As she began to demonstrate an aptitude for music, the diminutive instrument was replaced by a two-level keyboard unit before she enrolled at the nearby Kiryat Ono Conservatory of Music, following in the footsteps of a trumpet-playing friend.
"When they asked me what I wanted to play, I said trumpet, like my friend, but they said I wasn't suited to the trumpet so I went for the trombone. I don't know if the conservatory really thought I wasn't suited to be a trumpeter, or maybe they just needed a trombonist, but it worked out alright in the end."
A couple of years later, Regev's musical endeavor took an incremental leap when she joined the Thelma Yallin School of Arts in Givatayim. And it was there that she began to develop a keen interest in jazz.
"I learned all different kinds of music, and theory and improvisation. I realized I was good at improvising. It allowed me to express my emotions, who I really was, and people seemed to think I was good at it. I remember getting applause for my solos. I really liked that," she says.
But the ego sheen soon wore off. "That was very encouraging to begin with, but after a while I thought, 'so they like what I do, so what.' What was more important to me was that I was learning and developing."
After 15 months playing in IDF bands, Regev caught a plane to New York where she had a comfortable entry into the cultural and survival maelstrom of the busiest of cities.
"Yigal [Foni] was already there, and I had some friends there too. I already had three gigs set up for me in New York before I landed," says Regev, who plunged head first into the multicultural music scene. Initially gigging with salsa and jazz outfits, she has been there ever since.
While Regev takes her art form very seriously, her playing also exudes a strong sense of enjoyment. "I know the trombone is sometimes related to as a sort of comic instrument, and that's fine. There's no reason why we can't have some fun too."
Her audiences also seem to understand that.
"I've played avant garde stuff at shows and people have responded really well," she says. "I think the public, in general, is far more open to ideas that some people think."