Born on November 13, 1973 in Philadelphia, Ari Hoenig, was exposed at an early age to a variety of musical experiences. His father is a conductor and classical singer, his mother a violinist and pianist. Accordingly, at 4 years of age, Ari began studying the violin and piano. He began playing drums at age twelve, and by age fourteen he was honing his skills with other young jazz musicians at Philly clubs such as Ortlieb’s Jazz Haus.
Ari attended the prestigious University of North Texas for three years, where he studied with Ed Soph while playing with the “One O’Clock” Lab Band. Wanting to be closer to New York City, in 1995 Ari transferred to William Patterson College in northern New Jersey. He soon found himself playing for legendary Philadelphia organist Shirley Scott and working regularly in New York City.
Shortly thereafter, Ari moved to Brooklyn and began playing extensively with a variety of groups, including Jean Michel Pilc Trio, Kenny Werner Trio, Chris Potter Underground, Kurt Rosenwinkel Group, Joshua Redman Elastic Band, Jazz Mandolin Project and bands led by Wayne Krantz, Mike Stern, Richard Bona, Pat Martino, Dave Leibman and Bojan Z. He has also shared the stage with such artists as Herbie Hancock, Ivan Linz, Wynton Marsalis, Toots Theilmans, Dave Holland, Joe Lovano, Pat Metheny and Gerry Mulligan, although he got kicked off the stage by security shortly thereafter.
Both of Ari’s self-produced solo drum CDs, “Time Travels” (2000) and “The Life Of A Day” (2002), document his exploratory nature. They represent an ambitious tribute to the melodic possibilities of the drum set. Today, Ari continues to build on the concepts of these two records by playing largely improvised solo concerts using a regular four piece drum kit and no percussion.
The Ari Hoenig Quartet was formed at the end of 2002 while playing every Monday night at the New York Village jazz club Fat Cat. This band featured Jacques Schwarz-Bart on tenor sax, Jean Michel Pilc on piano and Matt Penman on bass. They released two records on the Smalls Records label: “The Painter” (2004) and the DVD “Kinetic Hues” (2005).
In 2006 Ari signed a multi record deal with Dreyfus Records and released his first record for them called “Inversations.” “Inversations” (2006) features the trio with Jean Michel Pilc and Johannes Weidenmueller. “Bert’s Playground” (2008), Ari’s second record for Dreyfus, features Ari’s Punk Bop Band joined by Chris Potter. Highlights of this record include Chris’s solo on Moments Notice and Ari jumping around in red pants on the cover. Jonathan Kreisberg, Matt Penman, Will Vinson, Gilad Hekselman and Orlando le Fleming also represent on this one.
Ari’s next record project was for “Smalls Live,” a record label set up in 2009 to document some of the music being performed at the “Smalls Jazz Club” in New York where Ari has had a residency since 2003. Ari chose his Punk Bop Band to make the record “Punk Bop Live at Smalls.” The Punk Bop Band features Will Vinson on alto, Jonathan Kreisberg on guitar and fellow Jazz Mandolin Project alumni Danton Boller on bass. Tigran Hamasyan is a special guest on 4 tracks as well.
Ari’s Quartet with Tigran Hamasyan, Gilad Hekselman, Orlando le Fleming and Chris Tordini released “Lines of Oppression” (2011) on the Naïve label. This record represents a culmination of Ari’s bandleading, composing and accounting skills.
Currently Ari leads three groups that play his original music. Besides the Ari Hoenig Quartet and “Punk Bop,” Ari also leads the Ari Hoenig Trio, with Jonathan Kreisberg or Gilad Hekselman covering guitar duties and Matt Penman or Orlando plucking on the bass. He also co-leads a variety of projects, including Pilc, Moutin, Hoenig (“the three headed monster”), Oscillations Quartet and various duo’s with Chris Potter, Edmar Casteneda or Dan Weiss.
As an educator, Ari teaches privately and is on faculty at New York University and the New School for Social Research in New York. He gives clinics and lectures at music schools and universities worldwide, and writes a regular educational column for Modern Drummer magazine. In collaboration with bassist Johannes Weidenmueller, Ari released “Intro to Polyrhythms Vol 1”, and “Metric Modulations, Expanding and Contracting Time within Form Vol 2”. (Mel Bay 2009, 2012)