On Thursday, the Levontin 7 club in Tel Aviv will host one of the more intriguing musical events of the year. The pretext for the show is the launch of a new CD called Wasabi Baby by The Mambas trio of Uri Frost, Gil Luz and Jeki Ameamemet Zaborov.
The members of the threesome bring a wealth of creative intent and varied experience to the joint venture.
Zaborov has previously worked with acoustic indie rock-folk outfit Botimzog and frenetic punk rock group Zaka, while DJ and instrumentalist Luz is a member of the alternative rock, indie, electronic, punk duo 951.
The 50-year-old boyish-looking Frost is the doyen of the threesome, with a resume jam-packed with envelope-pushing artistic escapades with the likes of alternative rock bands Kazbah, Pliz, Rir, and Carmela Gross Wagner.
Frost appears to have a go-with-the- flow approach to life and is something of an archetypal Renaissance man. He feeds off numerous musical roots and has picked up varied cultural trappings along the way.
He was born in Germany, spent a couple of years in Belgium before continuing his childhood in Brazil, and thereafter in Vienna. When he was 11, just two months before the Yom Kippur War, his family moved here, and there was an artistically fruitful four-year stint in London in the late 1990s. Frost speaks five languages but, he notes, that didn’t necessarily enhance his understanding of an important musical technique.
“I cannot read music,” he declares.
“I tried for many years, but I simply couldn’t manage it. I grew up loving the music of Tchaikovsky – I listened to his Piano Concerto No. 1 thousands of times – and deep down, I wanted to be a classical pianist.”
Frost’s early classical leanings may have had something to do with why he went for the left-field highly intricate sonic offerings of avant rock guitarist and composer Frank Zappa.
“He was one of my idols,” says Frost. “Don’t ask me why. There was something in the way he played.
Maybe it was because he also worked in classical music. But I would say the guitarist who influenced me the most as an adult was [underground rock guitarist] Arto Lindsay. He helped to convince me that I could really play music.”
As a guitarist, Frost didn’t climb on to the first rung of his musical career as a precocious wunderkind.
“I became serious about playing music when I was 26,” he says. “I was living in Rio de Janeiro at the time, and I met a French guy [Philippe Hemadou] and he told me he played the piano. I said I played the guitar and suggested we get together and try something out. We began jamming together, and we got a band going [Kazbah].”
The group achieved a degree of success, played all over Brazil, and had a couple of hits that racked up a significant amount of radio airplay.
Kazbah ran pretty well for around three years before Frost, once again, got itchy feet.
“I came back to Israel for a short time, and I’d planned to go to New York, but things didn’t work out that way,” he recalls.
In keeping with his laissez-faire groove, Frost’s return to these shores in 1988 extended way past his intended departure for the Big Apple.
“I ran into an old classmate who asked me what I was doing. He was a musician too, and we ended up jamming and writing music for 10 days, and we formed Pliz, my first group in Israel,” he recounts.
“There was a tremendous response to what we did with Pliz, right from the outset. That was great.”
It was a good time for alternative rock ventures. In the late 1980s the Tel Aviv scene was really taking off.
There were dozens of emerging groups, and venues like Penguin and Liquid had sprung up and were packing in large crowds on a regular basis.
“We had our first gig within a month,” Frost notes. “It’s strange that I came back to Israel at the right time.
The same thing happened to me in Brazil. I got to Rio just when an underground rock scene was starting up. I guess I have been lucky that way.”
Like Kazbah, Pliz ran out of steam after three years, and Frost subsequently joined forces with stellar bass player and vocalist Eran Tzur and formed Carmela Gross Wagner. The band recorded one album, achieved a high media profile and built up a large following. But, true to his wayfarer nature, Frost struck out for an avenue as yet unexplored.
“I went to study film at the Sam Spiegel School in Jerusalem. I studied there for two years but only lived in Jerusalem for a year. There was too much holiness in Jerusalem for me,” he says.
Since then, Frost has earned his keep as a music producer, film director and soundtrack composer and has worked in the dance and theater fields as well. In the latter half of the 1990s, he lived in London and wrote music for theater, including for a string of plays, such as 3 Short Breaths , Fever at Riverside Studios and People Show 105 .
Judging by Frost’s experience thus far, The Mambas should be an exciting ride for all concerned.For tickets and more information about The Mambas concert: (03) 560- 5084 and www.levontin7.com