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White Night Music Marathon Shines in Tel Aviv

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[John] Tchicai's poised playing was a model of phrasing, a mixture of old and new rhythms, free improvisation and melodic lines.
Tel Aviv's White Night Music Marathon
Enav Cultural Center
Tel Aviv
June 29, 2006

For the second year running the Tel Aviv all-night jazz marathon had seen the Enav Hall packed to refuse with jazz lovers of all ages, who proved to be of no less resilience than the musicians who had performed throughout the night. A mixture of outstanding local and international performers paraded on stage in eight, one-hour long, consecutive sessions of modern jazz, improvised and avant-garde music. The fifteen minute breaks between concerts were serenaded in the foyer by three young jazz musicians who further entertained the audience during intermission.


The evening began with the prize awarding ceremony for the First International Composers Competition which had taken place a week previously in the same Hall. Six jazz and modern music composers won the prizes for excellence and performed their compositions. Slightly later than advertised, the White Night Festival opened with Jean-Claude Jones (double base) and Yuval Messner (cello) playing an original rhythmic piece for the two instruments. The duo was later joined by saxophonist Steve Horenstein and Loic Kessous (electronics) to form the Temperamental Interactive group. JC Jones and Messner then accompanied the well-known British jazz dancer Julyen Hamilton in an intriguing show of sound and free movement combination.


The doyen of Israeli clarinet players, Harold Rubin, followed with his own trio. The Danish pianist Olga Magieres, a member of the Danish Skraep group, joined in to accompany him in a poem declamation which slowly turned into a freely-improvised piano/clarinet duet. Albert Begger (sax) and his trio then treated the audience with his customary dynamic and imaginative freely-improvised playing.


The third concert featured the Polish Kinetic Trio from Krakow, (Marek Choloniweski - electronics, Rafal Mazur - acoustic bass guitar, Wlodzimierz Kiniorski - sax) in a mixture of electronic and acoustic music. The Irish up and coming virtuoso jazz guitarist Mark O'Leary together with the outstanding pianist Vyacheslav (Slava) Ganelin and power house drummer Arkadi Gottesman then offered the discerning and appreciative audience a virtuosic whirlwind of improvised jazz music, attaining at times heroic proportions. Ganelin's unsurpassed imagination, improvisatory and instrumental prowess were evident throughtout, never at the expense of the whole ensemble though. O'Leary and Gottesman certainly rose to the occasion in an exceedingly memorable performance.



An uninterrupted stream of people kept arriving at the gates and by midnight it was clear that the hall would not be able to contain the hordes of jazz enthusiasts still pouring in. Several rows of chairs were quickly added to accommodate all new comers. The midnight slot was reserved for the Danish guest saxophonist John Tchicai whose playing, together with the Israeli talented and versatile drummer Noam David and pianist John Bostok, was a truly class act. Tchicai's poised playing was a model of phrasing, a mixture of old and new rhythms, free improvisation and melodic lines. He surprised the audience by opening his set singing, then abandoned his sax in favor of the percussion to join Noam in an improvised rhythmic duet. For mere instrumental virtuosity you'll have to look elsewhere—Tchicai is beyond that—what you will find instead in his playing is a combination of golden tone, distilled purity, modesty, depth and authenticity—the hallmarks of a truly great musician. Steve Horenstein and pianist Maya Dunitz each presented a composition performed by members of the Tel Aviv Art Ensemble before Tchicai reappeared, accompanied by Horenstein and Begger for a "Sax Summit", together with guitarist Mark O'Leary and drummer Arkadi Gottesman. All musicians freely improvised as Horenstein pulled each player in and out of the ensemble, all culminating in a powerful tutti.



The London-based pianist Amit Dolberg, in a poised and sensitive rendition of several original solo works of modern music specifically written for the festival was followed by The Spheres Duo (Arnon Zimra - piano, Zvi Joffe - vibraphone & percussion and the artistic director of the entire White Night Festival) playing two of their own compositions. If nothing else, the unique sonority and timbre combination of the two instruments was an experience to behold. Joffe can make his vibraphone sound like an entire orchestra and some color pedal notes hung in the air for what seemed like an eternity. Assif Tzachar, better known for his sax playing, chose to perform on the drums with his trio, which followed Ariel Shibolet (sax) and Yoram Lachish (oboe) duo. Yuval Ron and The Residents of the Future, Noam David with his polyrhythmic drum pyrotechnics and the Chameleon Trio, in sequence, finally brought the long marathon to a triumphant end.


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