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If you're looking to sit back, relax and passively enjoy some live music, don't go to the upcoming Apples gig. On the other hand, if you want to shake a leg or two, then the funk-groove-jazz-DJ driven nine member troupe is probably just the thing you need.
"No one sits down at our shows," says Ofer "Schoolmaster" Tal, one of the two DJs in the band. The high energy style appears to be paying dividends. Apples is about to put out its third album, which it has already begun to showcase on a four date tour of the country - in the members' hometowns of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa. They also have a prestigious slot at London's Cargo club as part of next month's London Jazz Festival.
For Tal and the rest of the gang it's all about pushing the envelope and having fun. "There's nothing routine about what we do," he explains. "It's all based on improvisation."
The name of the group says a lot about Tal and his pals' take on their craft, and on life. "We chose the name because we drink apple juice at rehearsals, no alcohol. We're the new cool nerds. The nerds are the new cool."
While the band employs contemporary styles and implements - there are two turntables alongside the traditional instruments - Tal says their ethos is of a fundamentally grass roots nature. "Jazz was, of course, originally dance music. Everything we do is danceable."
Yes, but what about the purist approach to jazz? How many die-hard bebop fans are going to be thrilled with having two turntables alongside the drums, bass and wind instruments? That doesn't sound too traditional. "You've got to move with the times, but we never lose sight of the music's roots," Tal states. "Erez [Todres, the other DJ] and I don't just scratch. We try to emulate the sound and rhythm of different instruments. I try to play a pattern like a guitarist or a vocalist. I am like a theater actor - I can change roles. The DJs are the soloists in the band and the others enhance what we do. The bass and drums are the groove, the wind instruments are the link and we [the DJs] score the goals. That works well."
That credo obviously appeals to a wide fanbase. The band has already played a sold out date at the Jazz CafÃ©, one of London's premier jazz venues and with the London Jazz Festival gig coming up, Apples appear to have made a lasting impression on British jazz fans. Apples also has a couple of singles out in the UK which are doing well and the band will appear on the popular BBC 6 radio program The Charles Craig Show before the Cargo gig.
One of their singles, "Killing in the Name Of," was recently included in the Wicked Jazz Sounds 4 dance music compilation CD which also includes contributions from jazz and soul titans the likes of Herbie Hancock and George Benson - lofty company indeed.
"It's great that we're getting out to the big wide world," says Tal, "and we're proud to be representing Israel wherever we go. We have never received any assistance from the foreign ministry or anyone else. We have done it all ourselves."
One gets the impression that Tal and his cohorts would not have it any other way.
Apples will next appear at Haifa City Hall on November 2 at 11:30 p.m.
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