The Yellow Submarine is launching QueenTa Woman Jazz Festival – three days of women’s performance and compositions in the full spectrum of the genre – original Israeli compositions, free jazz, Latinx jazz, classic American jazz, hip hop jazz, as well as special productions created for the festival, and tributes to significant women in the history of jazz. The festival will take place at the Yellow Submarine from May 24 – 26, 2022, and is under the artistic direction of vocalist Chen Levy.
Opening the festival will be Havana-born pianist, vocalist, and composer Ariacne Trujillo Duran performing with Argentinian percussionist/vocalist Carolina Cohen, in the enticing program of Latinx jazz “Furies”, which will include Ariacne’s original Afro-Cuban compositions, with jazz standards and Cuban folk music. Think Afro/Cuban/Argentinian/Salsa/Upbeat!
In a press meeting announcing the festival, Atcha Bar, Executive Director of the Yellow Submarine, spoke of feeling a strong connection to the issue of gender balance in music, specifically because it is something that can be easily addressed and impacted – as with this festival. Speaking openly and candidly, he recalled moments in the past when hearing a woman musician, he would think “Wow, what a cool woman guitarist/drummer” (in Hebrew the word guitarist or drummer would be gendered), and then continued to reminisce, “one of my first encounters at the Yellow Submarine in 1997, while conducting auditions for the young musicians project, a high school student guitarist auditioned was amazing – Tamar Eisenmann, in case you don’t know her – and to I’m glad to say that, thanks to her, and others like her, and these projects, that feeling disappeared, that feeling of wow, this is so special, so different. But of course, I see the surrounding cultural environment, and know how important it is [women’s representation in music] and that is how the idea first originated to create this festival.”
Addressing the press meeting, Artistic Director Chen Levy said, “I’m very excited, I’ll even be dramatic and say that this is an historic moment, I know that there has not been a festival like this in Israel before, and its surprising that there hasn’t been because there are so many amazing women musicians, and it is right that they should have this stage.” She acknowledged the concern that a festival focused on women musicians might be “perpetuating stereotypes” and even creating a “women’s ghetto,” yet stated, “if I don’t do this, then how can I create change?” Ultimately, she said, “What is important is that we are creating a platform for creativity, for musicians – they’re women, but what difference does it make, in the hope that someday we won’t need this, and there will simply be representation, it will simply work. But until that day comes there is this platform, and I am super-proud to be the artistic director.”
The festival lineup looks terrific, with performances that reflect the broad range of jazz in Israel. Each evening’s program will begin with a surprise pop-up performance by emerging musicians, followed by three sets of scheduled performers. The night will close with a jam session, and the Yellow Submarine’s jam sessions are legendary! The full lineup is available in Hebrew on the Yellow Submarine website: https://yellowsubmarine.org.il/queenta-woman-jazz-festival/
Chen Levy described the artistic program at the press meeting, emphasizing that it was important to her to include both younger musicians at the start of their career, as well as the established generation of musicians, those who taught the new generation of musicians and led the way. Following Ariacne Trujillo Duran’s set on Tuesday, May 24th, guitarist Inbar Fridman, who Levy describes as a “super-guitarist, hardcore, bebop all the way” will perform a set of originals – her own compositions to her poetry, which Levy called “wild and full of passion.” Pianist Stav Achai and drummer Roni Caspi have both already made their mark on the music scene yet have never collaborated. These special productions are one of the wonderful aspects of the festival, bringing musicians together to explore new possibilities. They performed for the assembled audience of journalists and musicians, together with Daniel Harlev on bass. I loved their easy groove, warm rapport and upbeat energy!
Wednesday’s program will bring together Anat Fort (piano) and Mayu Shviro (cello) performing improvisations from their sessions together as well as their individual original compositions. The next set will feature harmonica player Ariel Bart, whose debut album In Between was released in May 2021. Bart will perform music from In Between as well as new material from her upcoming album which is scheduled to be released in October. Closing the evening will be vocalist Meital Waldmann and pianist Nitsan Kolko’s Big Band, with 13 musicians onstage! In talking about the program, Levy emphasized that it was important to her that the lineup include young musicians, and also to “delineate a path, establish a tradition of young musicians reaching out to the emerging generation” and said, “You see this often among instrumentalists – they mentor their students and bring them to concerts and arrange gigs for them. I see it somewhat less often among vocalists, so when I invited Meital to perform I asked if she would host a young singer, someone who is just embarking on a singing career, and she will be hosting Ilay Govrin.” They will be performing classic American jazz.
Thursday night will be dedicated to honoring significant women in jazz history, both Israeli and international. Pianist Katya Tobol and flutist Hadar Noiberg will perform a tribute to harpist, pianist, and composer Alice Coltrane (1937 – 2007). Commenting on the fact that Alice Coltrane is not as well known as she deserves to be, Levy said, “I studied at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, and during all my studies I never heard of Alice Coltrane! I heard of John Coltrane, but I never heard of Alice, who was an amazing pianist and composer, that is also part of the festival’s agenda, to shine a spotlight on – Wow! There were amazing women composers and wonderful pianists throughout jazz history and they didn’t get much of a place in history.” Chen Levy will be performing a tribute to the Israeli queen of song Shoshana Damari, as she commented at the press conference: “I saw the documentary about her and it broke my heart and filled my heart. She was an amazing woman it’s hard to put in words… she was a path-breaker.” Levy offered the assembled audience a wonderful intimation of what is to come, performing one of Damari’s signature songs, Migdalor (lighthouse), in a new arrangement that both referenced the original and breathed new life into it. Performing with Levy were Stav Achai on piano and Inbar Paz on contrabass. Closing the program will be Yulia Feldman and Hagit Goldberg of whom Levy said, “they represent the generation that raised us all and it was important to me to give them this place, this respect to the ones who, yes, they built us all.” Feldman and Goldberg will be performing a tribute to the 1987 album Duets, by Carmen McRae (1920 – 1994) and Betty Carter (1929 – 1998). There’s a lot to look forward to!
Link to the facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/698390911187528