(photo credit: Courtesy)
The biggest jazz event of the year is once again upon us, and there will be no
less than 32 shows on three stages spread out over the fourday Red Sea Jazz
Festival at its regular Port of Eilat.
There is a wide swathe of artists
lined up for the festival, from mainstream jazz to rock and poporiented items
and a long list of local acts, including some of a strong ethnic inclination.
The big guns in the straightahead jazz sector include a couple of
vibraphonist-led groups, including one headed by veteran Gary Burton (August 25
and 26), who spent 33 years teaching at and presiding over Berklee College of
Music in Boston, and another by 37- year-old Stefon Harris (August 23 and 24).
Harris will also lead a marimba and vibraphone master class at the Agamim Hotel
on August 24 at 4:30 p.m.
Burton’s cohorts in Eilat include bassist Scott
Colley, guitarist Julian Lage and drummer Antonio Sanchez.
powerhouse drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts and his quartet should also enthuse the
festival audience (August 25 and 26), while highly inventive Panamanian pianist
Danilo Perez makes his return to Eilat in the company of bassist Ben Street and
drummer Adam Cruz (August 25 and 26). Perez will also host a master class at the
Agamim Hotel on August 25 at 3 p.m.
There is also plenty of entertainment
to be had from outside the strict confines of jazz and improvisational
endeavors. Fans of pop music with attitude and some bluesy touches should dig
the Rickie Lee Jones shows on August 24 and 26. Meanwhile, Ivory Coast-born
French drummer Manu Katché’s two Eilat gigs (August 24 and 26) should draw on
the band leader’s eclectic musical style, ranging from jazz and blues, to pop,
electronic, and ethnically-seasoned sounds. And 16-year-old Canadian starlet
vocalist Nikki Yanofsky should wow the Eilat audiences with her poplaced
Jazz fans looking for something with an edge should jot down
Dave Douglas’ two shows on August 23 and 25, as well as his master class at the
Agamim Hotel on August 24 at 3 p.m. The 47-year-old trumpeter has been one of
the most inventive members of his generation on the jazz scene for the last two
He is a virtuoso player and searching composer and band leader,
and has explored numerous styles and genres over the years, including classical
music, European folk and klezmer. His current lineup, the Brass Ecstasy quintet
is quintessentially non-standard and includes four horns and a drum set, with
Luis Bonilla on trombone, Vincent Chancey on French horn, Marcus Rojas on tuba
and Nasheet Waits on drums.
Considering Douglas’ instrumental choice, and
the quintet’s name, it doesn’t take a genius to tie that in with late mercurial
trumpeter Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy band. “An homage to Lester Bowie is the
most succinct explanation I can give you for the existence of this group Brass
Ecstasy,” explains Douglas.
“We don't play his music, or even sound like
his music. I don't think an homage or a tribute should be an emulation or
recreation of anything, rather, I think of honoring a great musician by thinking
about their creative spirit and sharing what that can mean for us today.”
But it is
not all about Bowie.
“We play some rearranged pop tunes, which in a sense
is a very traditional thing to do in jazz,” Douglas continues. “We mostly play
my original pieces written for the group. Some of them are throughcomposed and
quite rigorous in terms of form and structure. Some of them are more open
musically. All of them include improvisation and invite in the language of the
The quintet’s Spirit Moves album conjures up
thoughts and vibes of New Orleans, the cradle of jazz. While admitting to that
Douglas says that the album’s points of reference of many and varied. “Because
of the brass instrumentation there are certain links to New Orleans brass band
traditions and to Macedonian and Mexican brass bands. But for me this is really
American Music. It is a melting pot of different sounds, quite sincerely blended
through the prism of my own compositional inspirations.”
Elsewhere on the
Red Sea Jazz Festival roster there is a plethora of homespun acts purveying
straightahead jazz through to ethnically-laced jazz efforts and pure ethnic
material. Guitarist Ofer Ganor and his trio (August 26) are among the quality
local bands while veteran flutist Shem-Tov Levy and his ensemble (August 23 and
24) will put out a rich offering of Gypsy, Balkan and Arab music, with some jazz
music and classical motifs thrown in for good measure. And if you’re looking to
shake a leg or two, the colorful and high-energy 15-member Marsh Dondurma band
(August 23), with its intoxicating mix of Balkan, African, Arabic, jazz, funk
and Gypsy music should do the trick.
For more information: