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This year's Shuni Jazz Festival is an all-Israeli affair. Now in its sixth year, the four-day bash at Shuni Castle near Binyamina (May 22-25) is sticking to homegrown talent this time.
Actually, the biggest names on the roster are a couple of "imports" - the NYC-resident duo, pianist Omer Klein and bassist Hagai Cohen Milo. The pair impressed at last year's also locally-based Mitzpeh Ramon Jazz Festival, and have since put out a warmly received debut, Duet. Thay have also graced the stage at New York's prestigious Carnegie Hall and won the Young Jazz Band of the Year award from Chicago-based Downbeat magazine. Not bad for starters. The twosome's May 23 gig at Shuni (6 p.m.) will feature cuts from the album plus some jazz versions of well-known Israeli songs.
A day earlier, at 10 p.m., Common Bond will no doubt set the castle audience alight with a heady mix of blues and rock, seasoned by ethnic influences. Much of the repertoire is based on the band's recently released sophomore album, Rhythm of Life. Meanwhile, the One O'Clock Jump should get some of the older members of the audience on their feet with an insouciant offering of highly danceable swing jazz. The 16-piece Tel Aviv Conservatory of Music ensemble will present a program of big band "golden oldies" designed to get patrons out of their seats and into the aisles.
Although far smaller, Ya'ir Sltuzki's Tromboneira quartet - which includes two trombones, a bass and drums - will also delve into the golden ages of the jazz discipline with material from the 1950s alongside original scores written by the band members.
The third day of the festival will feature the energetic Coolooloosh troupe, with its fiery blend of funk, blues and hip-hop, while saxman Boris Gammer's Eight Till Late sextet will spread the ethnic offering with a fusion of numbers from around the world based on local arrangements.
With the castle providing a magnificent backdrop, this year's Shuni Jazz Festival could be the best yet.
For more information visit the festival's web site at www.shuni.co.il/jazz.html