Red Sea Jazz Festival Eilat – Focus on Israeli Musicians
Written by: Gili Karev
This summer’s Red Sea Jazz Festival is host to a truly impressive line-up of talent, ranging from debut artists in their teens to experienced masters in the later years of their lives. Each musician brings his or her own unique personality, both artistically and culturally, in a creation of the quintessence of the diverse limitless of the Jazz genre. In addition to various international guests, the festival will be host to a slew of home grown Israeli artistry, with some, like Yuval Cohen and Omer Klein, returning from all corners of the world for three days of musical virtuosity. The full program is available in English on the festival website.
Tomer Bar Trio: Eighteen-year-old pianist and vocalist Tomer Bar has already released three albums, his first at age twelve, of original composition. The trio was composed two years ago and quickly began performing original materials of international contemporary jazz with a variety of local Israeli styles. The trio, comprised of Uri Kutner on bass and Ofri Nehemia on drums, recently released their debut album, ‘Local Groove’.
Gadi Lehavi and Eden Ladin: 24-year old Eden Ladin and sixteen-year old Gadi Lehavi are two young Israeli pianists, both exposed to the world of jazz and funk from an extremely young age in Tel Aviv. Eden received a scholarship from “The New School” in New York City in 2008 and is currently based there, while Lehavi has been experimenting with piano improvisation since infancy and has been playing with the world’s top senior jazz musicians since the age of 13. The duo will be presenting original material as well as familiar classics.
Dudu Tassa and Al Kuwaiti: Since the release his first album at the age of thirteen Tassa has established himself as one of Israel’s most outstanding and versatile musicians, making his mark in the field of guitar, vocals, and composition. Dudu Tassa and the Kuwaitis is a documentation project that focuses on the rearrangement of musical materials salvaged from old tapes, in an attempt to reestablish the authenticity of Jewish Arab musical culture that was lost in the Kuwaiti’s emigration to Israel from Iraq in the 1950s. The ensemble focuses on recreating a melting pot of musical interpretation, combining the artistic idiosyncrasies of Arab, Israeli and Western music. Tassa and Al Kuwaiti will be joined by Barak Kram on the drums, Nitzan Canetty on violin, and Neta Cohen-Shani on cello.
Ruth Dolores Weiss: Weiss is an Israeli singer, pianist and composer known for her soulful and extensive range of vocals. Her performances are deeply powerful and expressive, as she flows effortlessly between jazz, rock, folk, blues, and soul. The distinctly intimate feel of her music sets her apart from traditional jazz vocalists. Her performance at the Red Sea Jazz Festival will include poignant interpretations of songs by David Bowie, Nina Simone, Nick Cave, Billy Holiday and more, taken from her recently released third album, ‘My Middle Name is Misery’. She will be joined onstage by Yehu Yaron on double bass, Aviv Barak on drums, Noa Golandsky on percussion, Noam Dorembus on saxophone, Nimrod Talmon on trombone, Idit Mintzer on trumpet, and Itay Weiss on guitar and vocals.
Zaviot: Back at the first Red Sea Jazz festival in 1987, Zaviot was awarded first prize for the most original band. The ensemble was described back then as “four musicians from around the world playing original compositions [of] BeBop, fusion and avant-garde. This band stands out with its leading musical instrument, the clarinet, and the amazing improvisational skills of its members”. Now, twenty-five years later, Zaviot will be returning in a historic reunion of three of its original five band members – 80-year-old Harold Rubin on clarinet, Reuben Hoch on drums, and Mark Smulian on bass; joining them will be Israeli guitarist Arli Liberman.
Harold Rubin is a South Africa born Israeli free jazz clarinetist and visual artist. His jazz career took off amongst the tumultuous political atmosphere of the 1950s and 60s apartheid-era South Africa, where he would sneak into black townships and play illegally alongside black musicians. As a politically charged musical persona, Rubin produced a number of controversial visual arts projects depicting the brutality of the apartheid-era authorities. After leaving South Africa for Israel in 1963, Rubin continued to create anti-war projects through drawings and photographs. He returned to jazz in 1980 to become the founding member of the Zaviot jazz quartet, who later broke up in 1989. Their performance at the Red Sea Jazz Festival will celebrate Rubin’s eightieth birthday and the release of a collective album of new and old material.