Loving threesomes

A tribute to time-honored trios takes place at Herzliya on Thursday.

By
February 10, 2012 16:23
Ilan Leibowitz, Nicky Goldst, Uri Banai

Ilan Leibowitz, Nicky Goldst, Uri Banai 390. (photo credit: Gilas bar Shalev)

While it may not be “our” day of love, Valentine’s Day appears to have become as popular here as the traditional Tu Be’Av Hebrew calendar event. Despite his strong roots in local culture, as evidenced by his allegiance to Israeli music, Ilan Leibowitz has no problems making the most of February 14 and its chronological environs to offer a musical tribute to some of the most popular singing trios this country produced from the mid- 1960s to the 1980s.

The Trio concert, which will take place on February 16 at 8:30 p.m. as part of the five-day Loving in all Styles event at the Performing Arts Center in Herzliya (February 14- 18), offers a magical nostalgia tour. The show features Leibowitz alongside fellow vocalists Niki Goldstein and Uri Banai, backed by a four-piece band under the musical arranging aegis of David Kribushi. The threesomes whose hits get the royal treatment in the Trio program include the Yarkon Bridge Trio, The High Windows, The Pure Souls, Hashlosharim, singing comic team Hagashash Hahiver and the female trio Chocolate Menta Mastik.

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All the bands in the Leibowitz lineup were major draws of their day and included some of the leading icons of the decades in question. The featured titans of yesteryear include Arik Einstein, who performed in the Yarkon Bridge Trio and The High Windows, alongside Yehoram Gaon, Benny Amdursky, Israel Gurion, Shmulik Krauss and USborn Josie Katz. Amdursky was also part of the Hashlosharim threesome, together with Shalom Hanoch and Hanan Yovel. The Hateumim Trio comprised Oshik Levy, Pupik Arnon and Hanan Goldblatt. There is also a familial link between Thursday’s threesome and one of the other acts, as Uri Banai is the son of Hagashash Hahiver member Gavri Banai.

In temporal terms, at least, Leibowitz and his pals are stretching things a bit. Leibowitz is the oldest, at 46, which means that several of the bands honored in Thursday’s show had already run their course before he would have been old enough to reach for the radio dial.

“Those great bands peaked and worked from the mid-1960s until the mid-1980s,” says Leibowitz, “so I grew up on their songs. It was the soundtrack of my childhood and teen years. I am very connected with those songs.

Yes, it’s true, that some of the groups broke up when I was very young, but their songs were always around and on the radio.

Look, The Beatles broke up in 1970, but their songs live on.”



That’s quite a comparison – the Fab Four with our own top trios! “I didn’t mean to say that the Israeli bands were on a par with The Beatles,” Leibowitz adds with alacrity. “I only mean that their music is still around and popular.”

According to Leibowitz, who fills the lower register role original occupied, for instance, by Gaon, says that the Yarkon Bridge Trio was the trailblazer for the other singing trios.

“Amdursky was the link between all the bands. He was like a personal manager. He knew how to take the young talent and bring it all together. The Yarkon Bridge Trio had the color of the old Israel, before rock music took off here.

Then The High Windows, with Josie Katz and Shmulik Krauss, was really the first Israeli rock band, and their album is called the first Israeli rock record.”

Leibowitz says there were all sorts of acts out there from the 1960s, but he has stuck to what he considered the real McCoy for Thursday’s show. “There was Hatov Hara VeHana’ara (The Good, Bad and the Girl) [Josie Katz and Amdursky and Israel Gurion], which was a sort of American, Broadway style band. They had costumes and a comedy routine and wore Guys and Dolls American musical clothes.”

That wasn’t exactly Leibowitz’s cup of tea, but he says the bands emerged during a halcyon era for Israel, and not just in musical terms.

“All the leading songwriters, like Naomi Shemer, wrote songs for these groups, and the music served the country and was an integral part of the social fabric of the nation.”

Leibowitz says we could do with more of where all that came from.

“There was something pure about those songs, and they were so fresh and innovative. The words really meant something. Not like the shallow lyrics and music you get today, with all those A Star Is Born and The Voice shows.”

Then again, Leibowitz says who wouldn’t have minded having some more of an opportunities to strut his stuff when he was younger? “There simply weren’t too many routes you could follow when I was coming up. There was one TV channel, and that was that.”

So nostalgia is the way for Leibowitz to go, and that is exactly what we’ll get from him, Goldstein and Banai on Thursday.

“David Kribushi helped us a lot with that. Back then, he worked with Arik Einstein and Uri Zohar and all that crowd, and when you hear us sing you won’t be able to tell the difference between us and the original.”

But isn’t nostalgia just another word for escapism? For taking flight from the complexities and challenges of modern life and seeking refuge in the sweet memory of another era, when life seemed so much simpler? “I don’t agree with that notion at all,” retorts Leibowitz. “The problem is that there is nothing new or good quality about the music that comes out these days. All the styles came and went in the 1960s and ’70s – pop, rock, disco, heavy metal. Today, you go into a club and you hear rhythm, no respect for the melody or the lyrics, meaningless words that don’t survive more than a week, and then a new song comes along, and you forget about the song you heard before.

When you hear a song from back then, like [Shalom Hanoch number] “Tzarot Tovot,” you can hear it has musical depth and textual depth. Unlike the stuff you get these days, that kind of song stands the test of time.”

Elsewhere on the Loving in all Styles program there is a plethora of big names, including Yehuda Poliker, Mosh Ben-Ari, Boaz Sharabi and Shulamit Aharon, as well as salutes to tango music and the works of George Gershwin.

For more information: 1- 700-702-929 and www.hoh-herzliya.co.il


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