This Tuesday and Thursday 44-year-old pianist Joe Chindamo will do his best to allay any questions we may have about the abilities of jazz artists from Down Under. The Australian Chindamo has toured extensively throughout Europe, the USA, Japan and Argentina. Add to that the impressive roster of jazz, jazz-oriented and even opera stars with whom he has collaborated, including veteran fusion drummer Billy Cobham (who graced the Red Sea Jazz Festival stage in Eilat last summer), pop diva Shirley Bassey, jazz-playing brothers Mike and Randy Brecker and stellar opera singer Dame Kiri te Kanawa.
Chindamo got a very early start to his musical education, although not on his current instrument, when his Italian-born parents encouraged him to take up the accordion at the age of 6. When he was 13 he won a TV talent content and cut his first record just one year later.
He switched to piano at the age of 15 after being inspired by Canadian piano legend Oscar Peterson. According to his website, dissatisfaction with the performance persona expected of accordionists sealed Chindamo's decision to ditch his first instrument ("all that smiling made me nauseous"). He soon earned a position playing with well-known band leader Denis Farrington, working alongside musicians twice his age.
This week Chindamo comes here as part of a delegation from the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange (AICE) established by Israeli-born Albert Dadon. Funding for the trip was partly provided by the recently established Ehud Manor Scholarship Foundation, and the delegation will attend official events held on the tenth anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.
At his Tuesday show in Tel Aviv, Chindamo will play jazz versions of the Paul Simon Songbook, with arrangements of works by Ray Charles and Charlie Chaplin added for his Jerusalem date on November 17 at the Israel Museum.
Chindamo will appear at Tel Aviv's Einav Culture Center on November 15 at 9 p.m., and at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on November 17 at 8 p.m.