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The 23nd Tel Aviv Jazz Festival, February 21-24, 2012


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The Tel Aviv Jazz Festival, in its 23rd year, is one of the most prominent and important jazz events in Israel. It has gained a reputation in Israel and abroad for attracting both Israeli and international jazz personalities, and is also well known for its special music projects. However, its main appeal is the exciting annual experience it offers to lovers of the genre.

Once again, this year's festival will host famous jazz musicians from abroad who will join Israeli artists in original productions and debut performances. Among the international artists in this year's festival: veteran singer Mary Stallings; renowned baritone player Ronnie Cuber; mysterious veteran bassist Henry Grimes; a Bulgarian combo including the composer and pianist Dimitar Bodurov and the much admired shepherd flute ("kaval") player Theodosii Spassov; well known trumpet player and percussionist Jerry Gonzalez; clarinetist Oran Etkin and the Malinese balafon player Balla Utha.

This year the festival puts the spotlight on jazz in France, home of one of the best jazz scenes around. Two of the most currently fascinating French jazz musicians will appear at the Festival: the French pianist Baptiste Trotignon and saxophonist David El-Malek. Additionally the Festival will also present two musicians who are not French by birth, but who have lived and worked in France in recent years: Israeli pianist Yonatan Avishai and one of the true jazz greats living today, Kirk Lightsey.

It's a bit hard to claim the following feature artists as musically Israeli; they are of worldwide renown and their places of residence span the globe, but home is home: Omer Avital on contrabass; Avishai Cohen on trumpet; Eli Djibri and Yuval Cohen on saxophone; Omer Klein on piano and Kobi Israelite on accordion, drums, saxophone and electronics.

Alongside these artists Festival will also host a wide range of Israeli jazz combos, veteran and beginners alike, in varied styles and tastes. As befitting an event that champions original and new creative work, the Festival will feature specially produced original and debut productions, such as a journey in the footsteps of the pioneers of Middle Eastern music, with the participation of guitarist Yehuda Keisar, Dori Ben-Zeev, the gypsy jazz band Swing de Gitanes, and the Balilty family Moroccan jazz band with their all-stars accompaniment.

Also gracing the Festival will be Nurit Galron and her trio, the Amit Friedman sextet together with a string quartet, and the guitarist and singer Dida Peled who will host Shlomi Shaban.

True to the Festival's yearly tradition, it is possible to enjoy live jazz, free of charge. This year, performances will be held in the tent outside the new Cinematheque building.

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