Red hot jazz in Eilat

The annual three-day festival takes place next week.

Yilian Canizares (photo credit: RICHARD HOLSTEIN)
Yilian Canizares
(photo credit: RICHARD HOLSTEIN)
What could be better than a jazz-based music festival in Eilat in winter? If you head down south February 22-24, you’ll be able to catch all manner of musical entertainment lined up by Dubi Lenz, artistic director of the winter version of the Red Sea Jazz Festival.
The eighth edition of the threedayer takes in straight-ahead jazz, Latin grooves, beat box, pop ballads, indie folk and more. The artist roster includes such offshore big names as Italian clarinetist Gabriel Mirabassi, who will join forces with Colombianborn harp player Edmar Castaneda.
Both have visited these shores before, as has stellar French bassist Renaud Garcia-Fons, who heads a trio of compatriot accordion player David Venitucci and vibraphonist-drummer Stephan Caracci. Classically inclined music lovers should dig the VEIN trio from Switzerland, who will filter the Impressionist sensibilities of early 20th-century classical composer Maurice Ravel through a jazz prism, along with Israeli saxophonist Amit Friedman, while Paris-based Israeli pianist Yaron Herman will team up with irrepressible compatriot drummer Ziv Ravitz and French bassist Bastien Burger.
Other names to look out for on the Israeli side of the program include drummer Yogev Shetrit and his trio of pianist Stav Goldberg and bassist Ayal Tsubery, who will present their Israeli take on ethno-jazz, while Bostonbased saxophonist Lihi Haruvi will front a quintet. Meanwhile, on the extramural side of the festival tracks, the last day features the intriguing Non-Standards Project show, fronted by versatile keyboardist and arranger Tomer Bar, with celebrated singersongwriter Shlomi Shaban also front and center. Indie folk band The Angelcy will close the second day’s proceedings.
If you’re looking for a dose of unadulterated joie de vivre, look no further than Cuban-born Swiss-based Yilian Canizares, who brings a plentiful disciplinary background to her work.
The 34-year-old violinist and vocalist started out on classical violin, complementing her strict Russianrooted tutelage with studies in Venezuela before relocating to Switzerland. It was there that she had a change of musical heart and began to shift toward jazz. Canizares says that, stringent early classical education notwithstanding, eclecticism is part of her natural makeup.
“Cuban music was indeed the first contact I had with music, but Cuban people love to listen to any kind of music, not only Cuban,” she notes.
“From an early age, my mother brought me to many concerts, from jazz to classical music and traditional Cuban music. That enriched my ears and my way of conceiving music in an invaluable way. It was absolutely an enriching experience. I understood that music has no borders, no limits.”
Attending concerts augmented Canizares’s early studies on violin and piano, and she says getting a handle on keyboard work supports her allround musicianship.
“My training on piano influences the way I sing and play violin and also the way that I compose. The piano is a very complete instrument, with melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic capacities. It’s also – unlike the violin or singing – a very ‘visual’ instrument. I still compose most of my songs on piano,” she says.
There aren’t too many singing violinists out there, but Canizares says that came naturally to her.
“I started singing even before I knew how to play violin. The human voice is always our first instrument. I don’t see it as more or less challenging but as opportunity to express myself in a different way, with a different instrument,” she says.
The Cuban’s bio, to date, has also taken in opera and symphonic works.
She says this and other areas of music and life into which she has ventured are all grist for her creative mill.
“Every single experience that I had as a musician, but also as a person, shaped me as a human being. I think that all these experiences come out through my music and through my way of playing and singing,” she notes.
That includes moving thousands of miles away from her place of birth to a very different cultural and social milieu.
“I guess I couldn’t make the music I do now if I hadn’t lived in Europe,” she says. “It has been a great experience of learning, not only about music and violin but most of all about myself and why I do music. It’s a paradox, but it has helped me to connect even more with my roots. I think that because of that experience, I have also a different outlook about my own cultural heritage,” she explains.
When you spend much of your time on the road, having musicians with whom you feel comfortable, both professionally and personally, is a boon.
“The quintet has been together for four years,” says Canizares. “I have the chance to share the stage not only with great musicians but also with amazing human beings. We always have a lot of fun playing together,” she smiles.
Overall, for Canizares it is about conveying her thoughts and feelings in the most accurate, emotive and colorful way. She says that also involves making sure she has the right instrumental lineup for the job at hand and that she treats her sidemen like a sort of cast.
“For me, every project is like a new film or a new book. I need to find the best character and best actor to tell the story,” she says.
The jazz festival takes place February 22 to 24 in Eilat. For tickets and more information, call *9066 or visit http:// or http://redseajazz. (Richard Holstein)