61st GRAMMY Awards Nomination

Orquesta Akokán is nominated in the 2019 Grammys for the Best Tropical Latin Album! This is an amazing band and I’m thrilled to be a part of this musical celebration. Recorded at the legendary Areito studio in Havana, the brainchild of singer Jose “Pepito” Gomez, producer and trés player Jacob Plasse and composer-arranger-pianist Michael Eckroth features some of Cuba’s best musicians. This is a band that swings hard and brings back the glory of Mambo with a refreshing sound and all original compositions.

Help us win this Grammy by voting (if you’re a member of the Academy) or by spreading the word!



What the press is saying about Telavana




…strong, effervescent set…”

(Tom Greenland, New York Jazz Record, July 2018)


…clearly a virtuoso…”

(Nigel Williamson, Songlines, August 25, 2018)


“…authentically beautiful melodies…”

“…[Kriss] plays with majestic virtuosity…”

“…Mr Kriss has matured into a musician who bestrides the two musical worlds of the Middle East and Latin America like a Colossus.”

(Raul da Gama, Latin Jazz Network, August 23 2018)


“…synthesizing and globetrotting…”

“…musical wanderlust…”

(Dan Bilawsky, All About Jazz, September 12 2018)


a musical synthesis as appealing and unforced as the cultural mix of the band”

(Nate Chinen, WBGO.org, July 8 2018)






Telavana reviews are in!

Since the release of the Telavana album we’ve been getting good feedback from audiences and press, and some nice reviews. Here’s a sampling – click on an image to see the article (and check out the press section of this website for more…)

All About Jazz – Dan Bilawski

Latin Jazz Network – Raul Da Gama

NYC Jazz Record July 2018 – Tom Greenland

WBGO.org July 2018- Nate Chinen

“Doing Jazz” Podcast Interview

Finally back in town after a long trip playing in Russia & Israel, and happy to share this podcast interview on “Doing Jazz” with the gracious and knowledgable Lorens Chuno Udeigwe. Talking about life, musical journeys and of course TELAVANA.  Listen HERE

Telavana Album Is Out!

After a long pregnancy the TELAVANA album is finally out in the world and boy, is it a sweet feeling! You can listen to it on pretty much any streaming platform or buy an actual earthly physical Compact Disc at cdBaby by clicking on the album cover below. Tonight we’re celebrating at The Django (2 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY) with a release party featuring Ahmed Vega – piano, Dan Aran – drums, Tamir Shmerling – bass, Hillel Salem – trumpet, Marcos Lopez – percussion, vocalist Malaya and special guest belly dancer Elena Nayiri 10.30pm.

Many thanks to everyone who’s been a part of this, including musicians Mike Rodriguez, Cesar Orozco, Or Bareket, Dan Aran, Marcos Lopez, Tamer Pinarbasi & Yosvani Terry, sound engineer Michael Perez-Cisneros, visual artist Latin For Glory (aka Gloria Hernando, who hand-drew the cover art with crayons!) and all the people who joined TELAVANA’s journey along the way like filmmaker Maxwell Enrique Bahamón, vocalist Malaya De Jesus, photographer Justin W. King, Belly dancers Elena Nayiri, Susanna Nieto and Pamela Rose, Bar Lunatico in Brooklyn which has given us a home to play at every month and many more….


“When Heroes Fly” wins 1st prize at CanneSeries

“When Heroes Fly” A drama series created by writer and director Omri Givron, co-creator of the Israeli show “Hostages,” took the 1st prize for best series at CanneSeries, an offshoot of the Cannes Film Festival which aims to highlight series from all over the world and to give an international voice to this increasingly popular and fiercely creative new art form.  The show stars Tomer Kapon, with original music by Roy Nassee. Most importantly for me, the show, which is set mostly in Colombia, features music from the upcoming TELAVANA album as well as a couple of tracks by Los Hacheros. It’s the first time my music is featured in an international TV series, and it looks like it’s off to a good start with this prize.

“Shabazi” Video + Single out now!

Last summer I had the great pleasure of collaborating with two incredible artists – belly dancer Elena Nayiri and filmmaker Maxwell Enrique Bahamón. Working together we conceptualized and produced this video to “Shabazi” – one of my compositions from the upcoming TELAVANA album. Apart from being a great belly dancer, Elena is also proficient in various Cuban dance styles, which is evident in the duet scene with  our special guest singer-dancer Chino Ponz. I feel very fortunate to have found someone who, like me, is fascinated with both middle-eastern and Caribbean modes of expression and is also a really fun person to work with. I met the filmmaker, Maxwell, during the video shoot for “Timbalaye” by Los Hacheros and I really love his cinematographic style, imagination and attitude. This is my first attempt at a music video and there are so many people I need to thank for participating – Belly dancers Susana Nieto and Pamela Rose, Benny Oyama for hosting us on his rooftop, all of our lovely extras who came to dance on the rooftop for the party scene, Malaya De Jesus for the sumptuous buffet, the band members and many more…

Here are the links to the single track on spotify and itunes





and here’s the video. Enjoy!

P.S. stay tuned, there are some live music + belly dance performances coming up!

New Year, New Shows

Happy 2018!


Israel Tour Announced

It’s holiday time! And that means it’s time for me to head to the middle east to visit family and friends, and to play some fun concerts in the land of milk and hummus. There are a lot of firsts on this visit-  it will be my first time to play at the Jerusalem Jazz Festival, first time to perform duo with Eden Ladin in Israel (we already performed in the US and Mexico together) and the first time to play the music of Telavana in Tel Aviv at a brand new Jazz series at the Pasaz! Click on the images below for show details.  hope to see you there…

Itai Kriss & Eden Ladin Duo at Levontin 7


Non Standards with Keren Ann at the Jerusalem Jazz Festival


Itai Kriss & Telavana at the Pasaz

Dance video from Rockwood

Here’s a video from TELAVANA’s debut show at Rockwood Music Hall on Sunday Oct. 22nd featuring four amazing dancers – Elena Nayiri (who also choreographed the piece), Salit Cohen-Cheng, Pamela Rose and Susana Nieto. We had a great time and can’t wait to collaborate again –  stay tuned for the next performance…