With state support for cultural enterprises at a low level. many non-mainstream arts enterprises struggle to make ends meet, and often close relatively quickly. So, the fact that the Levontin 7 club in Tel Aviv will celebrate its 8th birthday this week is a truly noteworthy event.
The club was founded by three musicians who all lean heavily towards the avant garde side of their respective genres – jazz saxophonist Assif Tsahar, jazz pianist Daniel Sarid and classical conductor Ilan Volkov. So it’s not surprising to find a wide range of acts taking the underground stage.
“The inspiration for Levontin 7 came from the music clubs Daniel and I knew in New York in the 1990s,” explains Tsahar. “The idea was to create a place with a comfortable ambiance where people could catch shows, and have a drink – a sort of hangout scene.”
The latter refers to both musicians and members of the audience. “We got a grand piano and set up the stage professionally,” continues Tsahar. “In most places the musicians come, perform and go home. We wanted to offer s o m e t h i n g different, for everyone.”
Tsahar and his cohorts made good on their promise.
On average, the club hosts around 60 shows a month, covering everything from rock to electronica, pop to free-flowing improvised music.
The lineup for the birthday program, which will run from July 27 to July 31, includes the likes of young pop-soft rock duo Shelly & Rotem, veteran crooner-bass guitarist Eran Tzur, singer-songwriters Hadara Levin-Areddy and Ruth Dolores-Weiss, Sarid’s own jazz trio, and rockers Ryskinder and the Bucharest band.
The latter two are pertinent features of the birthday roster.
“Acts like Ryskinder and Bucharest grew up with Levontin, and recorded on our label,” explains Tsahar. The saxophonist is keen to point out that Levontin 7 is about much more than just providing a space for artists to strut their stuff. “If musicians don’t have anywhere to perform they will simply stop making music,” he notes. “We want to keep the scene going, despite all the logistics and financial challenges. We have had at least two generations of artists come through Levontin 7.
“People like [internationally renowned rocker] Assaf Avidan and Boom Pam were among the first generation of acts to play at Levontin 7. We are looking to the third and fourth generations. We have to keep the ball rolling, at all costs.”The birthday program will end with a bang, with a c c l a i m e d c r o s s - g e n r e trio Tatran performing on July 30, with Paris-based ethnically- oriented vocalist Riff Cohen closing the shebang on July 31.For tickets and more information: (03) 560- 5084 and www.levontin7.com