The third edition of the Red Sea Winter Jazz Festival in Eilat, which ended last
Saturday, indicated that progress is being made with the more intimate offshoot
of the long running main summer festival. For a start, it is far more
comfortable traversing the albeit short distances between the venues at 25
degrees rather than the 40+ degree heat that normally pound the southern resort
in the height of summer. And the music on offer this year wasn’t bad
The pick of the bunch for diehard jazz fans was the quartet led
by Dutch saxophonist Yuri Honing who, along with pianist Wolfert Brederode,
bassist Ruben Samama and drummer Joost Lijbaart kept the packed audience in the
King Solomon Hotel auditorium transfixed.
There was nary a standard
within earshot during either of the quartet’s gigs, and the numbers –
predominantly written by Honing, with one contribution from Brederode –
displayed great attention to compositional detail. Meticulousness
notwithstanding, there was nothing clinical or cold about the quartet’s
delivery. There were rich textures and emotions aplenty as the band navigated
its way through some highly complex material, but with a song in their hearts,
Earlier on the second evening of the festival the same
stage hosted New York-based French-bred pianist Jacky Terrasson and his trio,
including bassist Burniss Travis and drummer EJ Strickland. There were few dull
moments in the threesome’s slot either, as Terrasson took the audience on a
guided tour through some of the cuts on his latest release, Gouache.
46-year-old pianist cites numerous areas of the musical cosmos as having an
influence on his output, as was amply demonstrated during the show by references
to hits by Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse and John Lennon, as Terrasson unfurled
a powerful keyboard arsenal of tripping trills, dense oblique chords and some
quite ferocious attacks. Travis impressed with a double bass solo informed by
rock, classical and funk sentiments, with touches of gossamer
Over at the Royal Beach Hotel, veteran Brazilian-Jewish
pianist Benjamin Taubkin and his bassist-vocalist son Joao were joined by
Israeli master percussionist Itamar Doari, stellar Iranian-born wind instrument
player Amir Shahasar and Spainbased guitarist Idan Balas.
roamed across a wide range of disciplines and cultural domains, including the
Brazilian choro genre, bluesy material, flamenco, bebop and sounds that feed off
energies and colors from this part of the world. Doari enjoyed several solo
spots that had the audience clapping rapturously, while Taubkin and son
displayed musicianship of the highest quality that conveyed both seriousness of
intent and a definitively sunny take on life.
Festival patrons who dig
Balkan music had fun at the veteran Moldovan-born accordionist Emil Aybinder
show, while it was somehow comforting to get a good dosage of bebop-oriented
entertainment courtesy of Israeli saxophonist Amit Friedman, who presented
material from his debut album, Sunrise, along with his quartet, including
bassist Gilad Abro, pianist Katia Toobool and young drummer Ofri Nehemya.
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