462

Tel Aviv Jazz Festival 2008

Eyal Hareuveni By

Sign in to view read count
Tel Aviv Jazz Festival
Cinematheque Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv, Israel
February 20-22, 2008

The program of the Tel Aviv Jazz Festival shifted in the last years towards more mainstream and crowd-pleasing acts, so the balanced and varied program of this year's edition of the festival was a pleasant surprise. Applying the motto of Kahil El'Zabar, one of the festival heroes, "ancient to future," the program featured Israeli veteran sax player Jacques Sany side by side with young and rising guitarist Yotam Silberstein and ageing mainstream saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman in a tribute to Ray Charles, in turn juxtapositioned with the forward- thinking trio of bassist Mario Pavone in a completely different tribute, this time to innovative saxophonist Thomas Chapin.

Chicagoan percussionist Kahil El'Zabar's Ethnic Heritage Ensemble—featuring El'Zabar on amplified kalimbas, earth drums, drums and vocals; Ernest "Khabeer" Dawkins on alto and tenor saxophones; and percussion and the wonderful trumpet and flugelhorn player Corey Wilkes (who recently joined the Art Ensemble of Chicago), also playing percussion—sounded as if they had developed their own musical niche. The Ensemble seemed to have rejected the hurried and nervous pace of modern-urban life in favor of a patient and communal musical gathering—one practicing the deeper ritual function of music as a means to inspire and heal the community. The energetic and resourceful El'Zabar fits beautifully into our image of the tribe's powerful magician. Not that the three musicians ignored the modern innovations of modern and free jazz. On the contrary, Wilkes' playing is well-versed in the great output of such innovative trumpeters as Clark Terry, Bill Dixon, Don Cherry and Lester Bowie and even adds hip-hop sensibilities to his sound, and Dwakins absorbs influences from such great sax players as Cannonball Adderley and Ornette Coleman filtered through his warm and bluesy sound while El'Zabar is well known for his ongoing, fertile work with free jazz heroes such as Archie Shepp and Pharaoh Sanders. But this ensemble is determined to look deeper, far deeper, to the cultural and historical African roots of this music.



All three were dressed in colorful African dresses and began the performance with "MT," from their last release, Hot 'N' Heavy (Delmark, 2007), El'Zabar's composition that is dedicated to the memory of late trumpeter Malachi Thompson. El'Zabar began with hypnotic and slow playing on the amplified thumb- piano. the kalimba, while Wilkes and Dawkins joined him with assorted percussion instruments, some were picked the same morning in a visit to the Old City of Jerusalem. Slowly the theme was featured with reserved trumpet lines by Wilkes and by Dawkins' sax, referencing 1950s be-bop but framing it in a wider, ancient and tribal sound. The performance rarely shifted gears. Only when El'Zabar headed for the drum-set did the trio play its fiery version of a tight, muscular free jazz, with El'Zabar hands moving all over the set while he alternated rhythms constantly and Wilkes and Dawkins demonstrated their abilities to play two horns at the same time. But most of the time the Ensemble managed to bewitch the audience with much looser compositions, with all three alternating on percussion instruments. The most heartfelt moments were when El'Zabar began chanting gently the lines from "There is a Place," also from the same release, an emotional cry for peace and happiness that hit a deep spiritual chord within the attentive audience. The musicians again connected on the second encore, when all three went down to the audience while they kept playing and dancing, especially El'Zabar, who showed his excellent African dancing moves, to the standing ovations of the happy audience.

The second night featured Philadelphian sax legend Odeon Pope and the Israeli adaptation of his latest release for his saxophone choir, Locked & Loaded: Live at the Blue Note (Half Note, 2006). Pope had two days of rehearsals to work with a team of eight young Israeli sax players and a rhythm section comprised of young Israeli pianist and experienced drummer Shay Zelman and bassist Gilad Abro. The ensemble succeeded in learning the beautiful compositions and arrangements of Pope and followed the charts quite faithfully, while they stressed the collective massive sound of the ensemble, as on "Cis," an emotional and lyrical piece dedicated to Pope's wife. Pope directed the ensemble when he needed more volume and power or when he asked for more reserved playing.


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Bob James Trio with Randy Brecker at the Blue Note Live Reviews Bob James Trio with Randy Brecker at the Blue Note
by Tyran Grillo
Published: August 21, 2017
Read The Songs of Scott Walker (1967-70) at Royal Albert Hall Live Reviews The Songs of Scott Walker (1967-70) at Royal Albert Hall
by John Eyles
Published: August 19, 2017
Read Bryan Ferry at the Paramount Theater Live Reviews Bryan Ferry at the Paramount Theater
by Geoff Anderson
Published: August 19, 2017
Read Newport Jazz Festival 2017 Live Reviews Newport Jazz Festival 2017
by Timothy J. O'Keefe
Published: August 18, 2017
Read FORQ at The World Cafe Live Live Reviews FORQ at The World Cafe Live
by Mike Jacobs
Published: August 18, 2017
Read "Jazztopad 2016, Part 1" Live Reviews Jazztopad 2016, Part 1
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 24, 2016
Read "Shirlee Temper At The Empress Theatre" Live Reviews Shirlee Temper At The Empress Theatre
by Walter Atkins
Published: April 30, 2017
Read "Tony Bennett at Birmingham Symphony Hall" Live Reviews Tony Bennett at Birmingham Symphony Hall
by David Burke
Published: July 5, 2017
Read "George Benson at Denver Botanic Gardens" Live Reviews George Benson at Denver Botanic Gardens
by Geoff Anderson
Published: September 21, 2016
Read "Euopean Jazz Conference 2016: Polish Jazz Showcases" Live Reviews Euopean Jazz Conference 2016: Polish Jazz Showcases
by Ian Patterson
Published: October 17, 2016

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.