Red Sea Winter Jazz Festival

The third edition of the Red Sea Winter Jazz Festival in Eilat, which ended last Saturday, indicated that progress is being made with the more intimate offshoot of the long running main summer festival.

January 26, 2013 20:28
2 minute read.
BRAZILIAN pianist Benjamin Taubkin performs at the Red Sea Winter Jazz Fest in Eilat.

Eilat Jazz Festival. (photo credit: Digi Dekel)


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The third edition of the Red Sea Winter Jazz Festival in Eilat, which ended last Saturday, indicated that progress is being made with the more intimate offshoot of the long running main summer festival. For a start, it is far more comfortable traversing the albeit short distances between the venues at 25 degrees rather than the 40+ degree heat that normally pound the southern resort in the height of summer. And the music on offer this year wasn’t bad either.

The pick of the bunch for diehard jazz fans was the quartet led by Dutch saxophonist Yuri Honing who, along with pianist Wolfert Brederode, bassist Ruben Samama and drummer Joost Lijbaart kept the packed audience in the King Solomon Hotel auditorium transfixed.

There was nary a standard within earshot during either of the quartet’s gigs, and the numbers – predominantly written by Honing, with one contribution from Brederode – displayed great attention to compositional detail. Meticulousness notwithstanding, there was nothing clinical or cold about the quartet’s delivery. There were rich textures and emotions aplenty as the band navigated its way through some highly complex material, but with a song in their hearts, and instruments.

Earlier on the second evening of the festival the same stage hosted New York-based French-bred pianist Jacky Terrasson and his trio, including bassist Burniss Travis and drummer EJ Strickland. There were few dull moments in the threesome’s slot either, as Terrasson took the audience on a guided tour through some of the cuts on his latest release, Gouache.

The 46-year-old pianist cites numerous areas of the musical cosmos as having an influence on his output, as was amply demonstrated during the show by references to hits by Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse and John Lennon, as Terrasson unfurled a powerful keyboard arsenal of tripping trills, dense oblique chords and some quite ferocious attacks. Travis impressed with a double bass solo informed by rock, classical and funk sentiments, with touches of gossamer dexterity.

Over at the Royal Beach Hotel, veteran Brazilian-Jewish pianist Benjamin Taubkin and his bassist-vocalist son Joao were joined by Israeli master percussionist Itamar Doari, stellar Iranian-born wind instrument player Amir Shahasar and Spainbased guitarist Idan Balas.

The playlist roamed across a wide range of disciplines and cultural domains, including the Brazilian choro genre, bluesy material, flamenco, bebop and sounds that feed off energies and colors from this part of the world. Doari enjoyed several solo spots that had the audience clapping rapturously, while Taubkin and son displayed musicianship of the highest quality that conveyed both seriousness of intent and a definitively sunny take on life.

Festival patrons who dig Balkan music had fun at the veteran Moldovan-born accordionist Emil Aybinder show, while it was somehow comforting to get a good dosage of bebop-oriented entertainment courtesy of Israeli saxophonist Amit Friedman, who presented material from his debut album, Sunrise, along with his quartet, including bassist Gilad Abro, pianist Katia Toobool and young drummer Ofri Nehemya.

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