The Hachazit Festival, now in its second year, has become a shop window for the bustling alternative music scene in Jerusalem.

There was a palpable buzz on Shoshan Street, at Hamazkeka and the smaller Bet Hazikuk room just down the road during the festival. Audiences packed both venues, and there was plenty of to-ing and fro-ing outside on the street, as fans and artists – including Israelis who currently live and work in Berlin and Holland – mingled.

Free improv guitarist Ido Buckelman’s opener on Monday was a typically free-flowing affair. In recent years Buckelman increasingly featured arco banjo in his work, but appears to have reverted to his first instrument. Judging by Monday’s slot it was a good move. He delivered his regular frenetically percussive fare but there were some richly crafted blues sentiments in there too, and there was rhyme and reason to the end product. It was a gripping tour de force.

Tuesday’s proceedings kicked off with doyen of the Jerusalem underground music scene, Tunisian-born sexagenarian double bass player Jean Claude Jones, teaming up with veteran voice artist Meira Asher. The twosome performed a deeply emotive rendition of Jones’s work Myelination, which refers to the substance that forms around nerve cells and helps the nervous system to transfer messages and keep the body functioning healthily. A breakdown in the system can lead to serious ailments, such as multiple sclerosis (MS). Jones has MS and Myelination is, naturally, a very personal and dramatic work. It was a spellbinding performance by both Jones and Asher, the latter augmenting Jones’s inventive bass playing with electronics and a powerfully theatrical reading of the text from the original Myelination CD.

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