Ido Bukelman 311.
(photo credit: Guy Eisner)
Ido Bukelman is in something of a quandary. The 29-year-old Jerusalemite
guitarist is not quite sure how popular he wants to be.
“I do like the
idea of being a Don Quixote and playing music that not many people get,” he
says, “but, of course, I want people to listen to the things I do.”
must be said that, if Bukelman wanted to pack stadiums, he could have chosen a
more mainstream path to riches and glory.
Despite his relatively tender
age, Bukelman has been one of the mainstays of the avant garde jazz-oriented
scene in this country for some years now. He performs in all kinds of lineups,
enjoying creative synergies with the likes of avant garde doyen saxophonist
Albert Beger, saxophonist Yoni Kretzmer – who recently relocated to New York –
and 78 year old clarinetist Harold Rubin.
Stadium-sized audiences or no,
Bukelman is getting on with the job in hand, with gusto. His debut album, City
with the Ido Bukelman Trio of bassist Assaf Hakimi and drummer Udi Shlomo,
came out in 2009 and he has put together a quartet outing intriguingly entitled
, with Hakimi, Shlomo and cellist Yuval Messner, since then. A solo
effort is also in the works and he also teaches at the Muzik School of Music
Creation and Production in Tel Aviv, where he works with various ensembles,
spawning more free-thinking artists of his own ilk.
And his gig diary is
pretty full too, with shows lined up in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem over the
next few weeks.
His artistic growth continuum follows a pretty steep
trajectory. He came to notice around four years ago, as a member of experimental
jazz foursome The Rats, alongside Kretzmer, bassist Daniel Spier and drummer
Daniel Feingold. He’d set down his marker as an emerging force on the
alternative music scene and has made great strides in the
Bukelman’s main objective is maintaining an exploratory
continuum, and there are no prisoners being taken.
“I have absolutely no
interest in playing jazz like it used to be played. There are people, today, who
still play jazz like it used to be. For me, that’s like going to a museum.” So,
for instance, does Bukelman have a problem with someone like 58 year old
American saxophonist Joe Lovano who feeds off the bebop vibes and rhythms
initiated in the 1940s? “Lovano does it so well, so I’m OK with that. But there
are lots of musicians out there who try to do jazz like the bebop artists. That,
for me, is like raking over the past.”
YOU WON’T find much tried and
tested jazz material in Bukelman’s oeuvre either.
“I don’t see the point
in playing standards. I don’t come from New York,” he says. But Cracked Song
an interesting version of John Lennon’s “Julia,” and Bukelman doesn’t come from
“I grew up on the Beatles so that’s natural for
me. My dad used to play me Beatles records. I think I’m more connected
with the Beatles than, for example, Arik Einstein who, by the way, I like a lot.
I also like Meir Ariel and Shalom Hanoch.”
One thing is for sure,
Bukelman always goes for broke and you always get the genuine article from him
no matter what. “When I recorded Cracked Song
I was on the edge. I’d had
problems with my finger joints for some time and it was very painful for me to
play guitar. I canceled a lot of gigs around that time but, maybe it’s true what
they say, that you have to suffer for your art. My fingers are okay
By definition, true art must involve risk taking and leaping into
the great unknown. That is an ethos Bukelman embraces wholeheartedly.
did some stuff with an electronic group a few months ago. That’s really on the
margins, but that’s the way I am. I try to go for things as freely and
unfettered as possible. It’s like just dropping on to my guitar drunk and going
for it, although I spend a lot of time thinking about what music I’d like to
Despite the departure of his close friend and brother in musical
arms Kretzmer, Bukelman says he is intent on working in his natural
“When Yoni left it was painful, and I have thought about moving
to Berlin – there’s a great artistic scene there. I also work in Tel Aviv a lot
but I live in Jerusalem, which is home to me. It has to feel right for me.”