The Jerusalem Jazz Festival is one of the most exhilarating music experiences on the planet. A flagship event of the Israel Festival, under the artistic direction of Avishai Cohen, in the inspirational setting of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, this year’s festival took place from July 5 – 7, 2022. Bringing together international and Israeli musicians, and open to the thrilling diversity of jazz genres and influences, the festival’s program embraces the spirit of jazz – its wild freedom, creativity, and spontaneity. Moving beyond the rigid format of typical concerts, the program features concerts and musical encounters taking place throughout the galleries and gardens of the museum, with audiences free to wander wherever the music and the moment takes them. The Jerusalem Jazz Festival creates a different geography of jazz, it feels as if all the world is gathered together at the festival in one amazing jam.
I love my vinyls and streaming (and CDs and cassettes – yes, I can’t let go of music in any form), but nothing can compare to the experience of live music. It is life itself, the sound of time as it appears and disappears, turning into memory even as it touches you. Capturing that moment and those feelings are the photographs of Muperphoto – Enjoy!
Sitting outside listening to Fred Hersch in the evening air, feeling the cool Jerusalem wind on my face and the space between the notes, sounds that come from the depth, Plain Song – an original piece, an intimate conversation between Hersch and the piano. Suddenly, we’re skipping in the sunlight, almost dancing on the next song, O Grand Amor by Antonio Carlo Jobin. As ever, Muperphoto saw more than I did (promise to myself: next year in Jerusalem, go to all three days of the festival), and it’s a pleasure to have his photos:
In one of the inner galleries, Lala Tamar sang in Moroccan, the rhythms dancing in my veins as her strong, passionate voice enters the heart and soul. Sharon Mansur (Shasha) accompanied her on the keyboard, and she was soon joined by Samir LanGos on gimbri, who brought the warm tones of his voice to Gnawa songs. Tamar invited the audience to join in on the call and response song, and a few brave ones sang with her. An original – Sahara – delighted with its seductive rhythms, while a song that merged the two musical cultures with lyrics in Hebrew – Abba Hamud (cute dad) was lively, funny, and sweet. The rapport between the musicians onstage enhanced the intimacy of the performance, it felt like a gathering of friends. As LanGos described the boat-shaped Gimbri, its history – an instrument the slaves taken from West Africa to Morocco brought with them, and structure – covered in camel skin, its strings are made from goat guts, Lala Tamar quipped: “This is not a vegan instrument.”
I did not wander far before meeting the vibrant sounds of Tzaneret (Elad Gellert and Ioram Linker on Baritone Sax, Raz Eitan on Alternative Drum Set) who were joined that evening by Yakir Sasson (Vocals and Trumpet) and Yaron Ouzana (Trombone). Tzaneret makes my soul soar. Yakir Sasson sang two originals – Lokeach Et HaZman (Taking my Time) and Kama Zeh Oleh Lekha Lahlom (What is the Cost of Dreaming). Tzaneret’s brilliantly vivacious, muscular, enthusiastic performance swept the audience literally off their feet, as many got up to dance in the museum gallery. I think even the works of art chanted along with the band and the audience: Tzaneret are the pipes that bring the vibes!
Wandering out I walked over to the Julian Lage Trio on one of the outdoor stages: Julian Lage – Guitar, Jorge Roeder – Bass, Dave King – Drums. It was the same stage where I had been listening before in the golden sunset, now transformed by night in dark and purple hues. Listening to the blues-infused rhythms, I felt that cool sensation weaving together the fiery fragments of my mind. The night had me moving, now back into the museum and the Floating Voices – brief, intimate encounters, different each night.
The plaintive, mellow tones of Asaf Yuria on saxophone, merged with the words ornamenting the exhibit – Birth, Marriage, Death – life itself, in its order and randomness, as people walking by were touched by the music. Even the museum guards.
Muperphoto and his camera ventured onto other paths as well:
Boom Pam (Uri Brauner Kinrot – Guitar, Uzi Feinerman – Guitar, Yuval “Tubi” Zolotov – Tuba, Ophir Kutiel “Kutiman” – Keyboards and Percussion, Itamar Weinstein – Drums, Dani Ever Hadani – Keyboards) were joined by Turkish singer Melike Sahin for a set that was the perfect closure for me: Middle Eastern groove, electric chill, psychedelic surfing the night with a playful spark.
Looking forward to next year’s Jerusalem Jazz Festival!