Pianist Guy Mintus will be performing live from Israel as part of this year’s Lenore Marwil Detroit Jewish Film Festival.
Israeli pianist Guy Mintus knows the Motor City jazz scene. He has performed at local clubs, including Cliff Bell’s, and his trio has appeared with Lady Champagne, a Detroit blues singer.
Mintus had been planning a return trip to the metro area last May, when he would be performing solo to enhance the showing of the film Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles, one feature scheduled for this year’s Lenore Marwil Detroit Jewish Film Festival. Original Mintus music enhances the narrative of the documentary about the development of Fiddler on the Roof productions.
When the festival had to change into a digital platform because of COVID-19, Mintus accommodated the change by agreeing to perform live from Israel. He will be the finale of the event, running Oct. 4-30, and perform selections from the film and apart from it in “Miracle of Miracles: Guy Mintus Live” on Oct. 29.
“I want to bring people into my musical world,” said Mintus, also a recording artist who is 29 and single. “I like to take music that I love and is meaningful to me and reimagine it — give it a new spin and a new life. It can be Chopin; it can be Gershwin; it can be a classic Israeli song.
“Whatever it is, I Mintusize it.”
Mintus was drawn to the piano from the time he was 10. He heard a song he liked and asked his mother to help him sound it out on their keyboard.
“It left me wanting to find more, and I started studying but not seriously,” he said. “I played some pop melodies, not practicing much. Then I discovered ‘’Round Midnight’ by Thelonious Monk, and that kind of shifted me because I learned that I can improvise and express myself. Music can be this [way] of expressing myself at a whole other level.”
As Mintus explored jazz, he also studied classical music and went to an arts high school in Israel. After serving as a musician in the military, he earned a scholarship to the Manhattan School of Music. While enrolled, he entered the New York performance community and moved on to tour internationally, sometimes appearing with orchestras.
Among the honors he has received are the Leonard Bernstein Award presented by ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) and the Bernstein Family Foundation, the Prix du Public given at the Montreux Jazz Festival and two of ASCAP’s Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Awards.
While performances have been limited during the pandemic, he has interacted with audiences by taking online requests and filling some by raffles.
“I played the requests as an artistic challenge to personalize songs from different worlds of music,” he said. “People who have experienced loss, sickness or tough things — or wanted to wish happy birthday to their father or something like that — reached out and asked for certain songs that are special.
“I made personal dedications, and the response was incredible. It was amazing to see how powerful music can be and the healing powers it can have on so many people’s lives.”
The pianist-composer hopes his upcoming album, “The Gershwin Playground,” will also have those kinds of effects.
“‘Do You Love Me?’ is my favorite song from Fiddler,” Mintus revealed. “It’s something so real and charming. It gets me, and I’m looking forward to sharing lots of special music with the people of Detroit.
“Although we can’t meet in person now, I’d love to have as much interaction as possible through Facebook or my email. Communication is one of the most beautiful things. If we can’t do it physically, digital means can be cool, too.
“To share this music is a blessing, and I’d love to know where it took people.”
“Miracle of Miracles: Guy Mintus Live” goes on at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29. culturalarts.jcc.org/filmfest.