The Borochov beat
Having made a name for himself in New York’s jazz scene, Israeli trumpeter
Itamar Borochov returns home to perform at the annual Red Sea Jazz Festival.
Trumpeter Itamar Borochov Photo: Courtesy PR)
Itamar Borochov is clearly not in any particular hurry. The 28-year-old New
York-based Israeli trumpeter, who will be on the stage at the Red Sea Jazz
Festival in Eilat this evening (9 p.m.) as part of percussionist Itamar Duari’s
ethnically-inclined Unipulse band, has covered significant musical ground over
He paid his academic dues at the New School for Jazz and
Contemporary Music in the Big Apple and has enjoyed creative synergies with
musicians of varied stylistic leanings, and across several
Including the likes of veteran trombonist Curtis Fuller,
late American-Israeli saxophonist and teacher Arnie Lawrence, who was among the
founders of the New School, and members of the next generation down, such as
pianist Aaron Goldberg and stellar Israeli bassist Omer Avital.
that impressive résumé, Borochov’s debut album as leader will only come out in
the latter half of this year.
“I actually have lots of albums, and bits
of albums, which I recorded but decided not to release,” the trumpeter
“There was a really good live recording I made at the Yellow
Submarine [in Jerusalem] in 2005 and Omer Avital and lots of other people told
me I should release it, but I didn’t.”
It seems that Borochov has to feel
comfortable with his work before he proffers it to the world, and that also
applies to his brothers in arms. The personnel he lined up for the impending
debut release include drummer Aviv Cohen, saxophonist Hagai Amir and his bass
playing older brother Avri.
“These are the people I grew up with,
personally and musically, so it was the most natural thing in the world for us
to make the recording together,” explains Borochov.
In fact, Avri played
a pivotal role in the trumpeter’s musical development, as did his father.
Borochov Sr. is multi-instrumentalist, composer and band leader Yisrael, who was
one of the pioneers of the crossover musical scene in this part of the world, as
a member of Habreira Hativit in the 1970s and later with his own East-West
Ensemble. Yisrael also runs the East-West House in Jaffa, where he hosts ethnic
musical acts throughout the year.
With such an artistic pedigree it is no
surprise that Borochov displayed strong musical leanings at a very early
“When I was two and a half I told my parents I wanted to play violin
but, when we got to the music store – Weinstein’s – Weinstein told my parents I
was too young and that playing the violin would distort my spine and that I
couldn’t start until I was three,” he says.
But Borochov was made of
“When my parents came to pick me up from kindergarten, on
my third birthday, I said: ‘now we’re going to the store to get me a violin.’”
That phase lasted a year, until the youngster decided to devote his spare time
to something of a more athletic nature. “I started swimming,” he recalls. But
there was plenty of musical endeavor left in him. Borochov moved on to piano
until his older sibling decided he should follow a very different musical
“Everything changed one evening when Avri came to me, I think I was
in grade three or four – back then Avri was a drummer – and said: ‘I am starting
a rock group with Nissim Halifa from Jaffa. D. Nissim sings and plays saxophone,
and you are going to play electric guitar with us.’ That was the most amazing
offer anyone had made to me.”
Thanks to his father’s intervention,
Borochov got his hands on an electric guitar, rather than the more
child-friendly acoustic version, and he began to get serious about
“Avri and Nissim began to write stuff and to play all sorts of
more complex things and I had to keep up,” says Borochov.
It was his
habit of window shopping that eventually led to settling on the trumpet as his
vehicle for artistic expression.
“One of my pastimes was to go to Klei
Zemer [music store in the center of Tel Aviv] to see what guitars they had
there, and one day I caught a glimpse of a black pocket trumpet. It looked shiny
and sexy and really appealed to me.”
But it wasn’t just esthetics that
fired the 10-year-old’s imagination.
“At that time I listened to a lot of
singers and I began to realize that the wind instrument players played riffs
behind the singer, and I thought I could play riffs on trumpet while Nissim
A trumpet was duly procured for the youngster and it
eventually became his main instrument.
Borochov had also developed an
interest in the blues, but it was classical and classically- oriented music that
eventually led him into the jazz domain.
“When I was very small I tried
to play the theme of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition on piano. I only
realized that was a trumpet role when I went to a concert of the work years
later. That’s when I started to listen to trumpeters. My first two jazz records
were Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue and Sketches of Spain. I think Sketches of Spain
is probably the best record ever made.”
Said album contains Davis’s
reading of Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez.
Other jazz trumpeters
who have left their inspirational imprint on Borochov over the years include
Freddie Hubbard, Chet Baker, Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Dorham and Clifford Brown –
an expansive stylistic spread indeed.
But, at the end of the day,
Borochov is an Israeli and many of the ethnic strands that run through this part
of the world, and which his dad imparted to him, are front and center in what he
does today. For example, the trumpeter devotes much of his time to exploring how
to incorporate Arabic textures in his jazz oeuvre.
“I am one of the few
jazz trumpeters who can play quarter tones,” Borochov declares, “and I play some
Arabic modes and scales too.”
The trumpeter also played a role in his
father’s Debka Fantasia project, which featured in the Israel Festival three
years ago, and which was based on works written by Ashkenazi musicians who
incorporated local Beduin and Arabic tunes after making aliya to pre-state
Palestine. Borochov is also a member of the singer Ravid Kalahalani’s Yemen
Blues band, which feeds off Yemenite, West African material and the blues. The
Yemen Blues lineup includes Avital and Duari.
This evening’s show
provides Borochov and Duari with another opportunity to push their jazz-ethnic
explorations out there, and one looks forward to hearing the trumpeter’s long
awaited debut release later this year.
For more information about Red Sea
Jazz Festival: (08) 634-0253 and www.redseajazzeilat.com