This year’s International Music Showcase Festival features a host of top-drawer
acts that promise to wow the esteemed visitors winging their way over here to
get see what we have to offer. Like last year, the shows will take place at
Jerusalem’s Yellow Submarine and at Levontin 7 in Tel Aviv, with a lineup that
includes some of the best jazz and world music artists from this part of the
The four-day showcase starts off with a bang at the Yellow
Submarine at 8:30 p.m. on November 21.
Internationally renowned New
Yorkbased bass player Omer Avital and his Band of the East will open the
proceedings, performing material from Avital’s latest CD, Suite of the East. The
other top-flight jazz act on the first day features trumpeter Avishai
There are three ethnically inclined slots on Wednesday, starting
with Kurdish-influenced singer Ilana Elya and her Aram Ensemble, followed by
seasoned kamanche player Mark Elyahu, with high-energy Gypsy music troupe Marsh
Dondurma due to close out the day’s shows in typical riproaring
Other big draws on the jazz roster include trombonist Reut Regev,
pianist Omer Klein, avant-garde saxophonist Albert Beger, fellow reedmen Shauli
Einav, Yuval Cohen and Amit Freedman, and guitarist Yotam
The 30-year-old Silberstein, who relocated to New York seven
years ago, has been making a name for himself there and elsewhere. He has
released four albums to date, the latest of which, called Brasil, will naturally
form the backbone of his Levontin 7 gig show on November 23. It is a polished
effort, and the stellar lineup he put together for the project – including
celebrated Cubanborn reedman Paquito D’Rivera and trumpeter Roy Hargrove –
speaks volumes about the Israeli guitarist’s standing in the jazz capital of the
Silberstein says his love affair with music from Brazil began many
years ago. “I think it all started when I was little, when I heard [iconic
singersongwriter] Matti Caspi singing “Eretz Tropit Yafa” (Beautiful Tropical
Country),” says the guitarist, referring to the Caspi hit that came out on a
big-selling album of the same name in 1978.
When Silberstein was in his
teens, he started to get serious about his musical orientation. “That’s when I
got into [renowned Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos] Jobim.
When I got
to New York I made a lot of Brazilian friends, and I really got into the music,
really researched it,” he says.
It was clear that Silberstein knew how to
go with the flow and just let things happen when they were supposed to. His new
record was the result of that ethos, too.
“Brasil wasn’t supposed to be a
CD at all,” he recalls. “It was just supposed to be a fun thing to do in the
recording studio one day. I only planned on recording a few nice songs, but one
thing led to another.”
Premeditated or not, Silberstein’s prior
explorations into the music of the South American country stood him in good
stead, and he soon reeled off material from the lesserknown side of the
Brazilian musical tracks.
“There’s only one number on the album that I
wrote,” he explains.
“The rest is stuff that is not played so often.
There are songs written by Jobim and people like Chico Buarque and Jaco do
Bandolim. It’s all things I really love. And it’s the first time they have been
played in a jazz context.”
Brasil, of course, did not simply materialize.
Silberstein has been honing his skills for quite some time, and with some of the
giants of the genre. The list of his sideman berths thus far includes spots with
legendary saxophonist-flutist James Moody; saxophone-bass-drum threesome Heath
Brothers; and powerhouse vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater. In his first year in the
US, the guitarist was also a finalist in the prestigious Thelonious Monk
In fact, Brazilian music has been a constant element of
Silberstein’s artistic evolution. “My previous CDs, Resonance and Next Page,
also have some Brazilian touches to them,” he says. “There is an unknown piece
by Jobim called “Ligia” in Next Page.
That CD is all my original scores,
but you can always hear something Brazilian in there.”
he is delighted to take part in this year’s showcase, to spend some time here
and to try to raise his profile among his fellow Israeli professionals. “I miss
Israel a lot, but I am getting on with my career in New York. This is where the
But I’d like to play with Israeli jazz musicians more than I
do now and to get my stuff out there more.”
The guitarist spends much of
his bandstand time playing as a sideman to some of his senior colleagues. He
says there are plenty of benefits to that, too. “You’ve got to pay the bills,
but I enjoy it too. I played with [Jamaican-born pianist] Monty Alexander, and
we were Grammynominated last year for his album Harlem – Kingston Express Live!
I’ve played with Monty a lot over the last three years, and also with the Dizzy
Gillespie All Stars. You know, I learn from everybody I play with. I got a lot
from Moody, not just about music but also about life.”
he also has a role to play beyond the music. “When I play in different parts of
the world, I feel like I am representing Israel. People in the audience know I
am Israeli, and I want people to know that there are good things that come out
of Israel, like good jazz.”
No doubt, Silberstein will make a good
impression on the festival directors and other musical event chiefs, who will
come here from Germany, Britain, Switzerland, the US, Taiwan and elsewhere, for
the four-day feast of Israeli jazz and world music.
For more information:
www.levontin7.com and www.yellowsubmarine.org.il