Ivan Rubenstein-Gillis is a singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist based out of New York. With deep roots in folk, rock, jazz, world music and modern poetics, Ivan brings a rare sense of craft, intellectual provocation and emotional expression to his work.
Ivan grew up in a creative family and from an early age was exposed to great music, books and visual art from all around the world. He played piano as a kid and began putting lyrics and chord patterns together around the age of 10 ... bought a guitar in high school and later added mandolin, banjo, harmonica and other instruments to the mix.
Over the course of his eclectic career in music, Ivan has written hundreds of songs and instrumental pieces, composed for dance and theater, produced and recorded a score of albums and performed with great musicians in many styles.
The primary focus of Ivan's creative life has without question been his songwriting. To date, he has recorded 6 albums of original material (including one mega-album consisting of 100 songs!). His songs have won grants and awards, been performed by great artists and choirs, been featured in a number of movies, and have become part of the musical landscape for his many admirers.
In addition, Ivan enjoyed a very successful collaboration with legendary trombonist Roswell Rudd over the last decade of his life. Ivan played with Rudd's dynamic MaliCool band in 2007 and then produced Feeling Good (a tribute to Nina Simone) - the lead track off of Rudd's 2011 album The Incredible Honk. In 2013-2014, Ivan produced Trombone For Lovers, an epic collection of American standards which included the house band of John Medeski, Aaron Comess and Richard Hammond, plus guest appearances from Bob Dorough, Faye Victor, Gary Lucas, Michael Doucet, Steven Bernstein, The NYC Labor Choir and other luminaries. TFL received a four star review in Downbeat and generated raves and substantial radio play around the world. Roswell performed with Ivan and his band on numerous occasions and guested on several of Ivan's albums, most recently in the guise of a braying elephant on dogz and katz, a choice cut from Ivan's 2016 album The Lion. Ivan and Roswell continued to work together on new compositions right up until Roswell died of prostate cancer in December of 2017.
Ivan's deep love for and knowledge of many different types of music has allowed him to work in and around the margins of many genres, and has led to longstanding musical relationships with Meyer Horn (drums), Adam Small (bass), Cat Martino (voice), Leah Siegel (voice), Lexy Casano (cabaret artist), Clarence Ferrari (flame throwing fiddler), Arne Wendt (organist), Rod Sherwood (producer) and David Brahinsky (NJ-based folksinger), among many others.
Ivan has also worked extensively as a music educator, concert producer and "musical activist" - utilizing his talent and experience in the service of providing musical opportunities to less privileged populations. Ivan has played at countless benefit concerts, fundraisers and community events and always appreciates the opportunity to play music in the service of a worthy cause.
Along with the music, Ivan writes satire, short stories, poems and the occasional expository essay. Ivan hopes to write books someday. He also likes to draw funny sketches.