Unlocking 'The Door'

Avant garde guitarist Ido Bukelman opted off the beaten path of Israeli jazz, his music bears witness to a constant search for unbridled expression.

Ido Bukelman 311 (photo credit: Courtesy of Tal Gur)
Ido Bukelman 311
(photo credit: Courtesy of Tal Gur)
While we may not be exactly talking about the stadium-filler marketing sector here, in an avant garde musical sense the pairing of 30-year-old guitarist Ido Bukelman and 61-year-old bassist Jean Claude (JC) Jones is something of a “supergroup” confluence.
The two will join forces tomorrow (8 p.m.) at the Barbur gallery on Shiriizli Street in Jerusalem’s picturesque Nachlaot neighborhood, alongside Norwegian drummer Ståle Liavik Solberg. There will also be readings by 75-year-old Bialik Prize-winning poet Israel Eliraz whose work, says Bukelman, was the inspiration for the guitarist’s latest CD The Door.
The musical premise for the event is the official release of The Door¸ which was recorded at Jones’s Kadima Collective studio and produced by Jones. Then again, at this end of the improvisational spectrum what you see and hear on stage is never the same as the recorded version. Bukelman will also be strutting a version of his The Door stuff, solo on guitar and banjo, at Levontin 7 in Tel Aviv this evening at 8 p.m., with the rest of the program comprising a suitably widely divergent performance featuring Solberg, pianist-keyboardist Daniel Sarid and bassist Yoav Beirech.
Bukelman, who recently put out a couple of titles on his and saxophonist Yoni Kretzmer’s brand new Out Now Recordings record label, says he was happy to work with Jones on the new album.
“JC knows so much about music and I love the things he does at Kadima. It was great to make the CD with him,” he said.
The guitarist-banjo player also got into Eliraz’s works some time before he got down to The Door and discovered a whole new world.
“Israel is an amazing person. He only started writing when he was about 40 years old and he publishes about two books a year. He is probably the most productive poet around today. I’ve read lots of his stuff over the past few years.”
That continued in between recording sessions.
“I did three sessions at JC’s studio, one a month. I’d record then I’d listen to what I’d done for a month, and mull it over,” explains Bukelman.
“There is something about the way he portrays things, and the music of his poetry, which I found very inspiring. It is hard to explain music and poetry concepts in words.”
Over time it became something of a two-way street.
“I got in touch with Israel and I played at one of his book launches at [record and publishing company] Helicon. He is very sharp.”
Although Bukelman has worked with Jones before he says he really appreciates the time and effort Jones put into the album.
“It is very moving for me that he freed up the time to work with me, and to play at Barbur,” he said. Jones has been suffering from multiple sclerosis for some years now, and his energies are limited.
SOLBERG’S CONTRIBUTION is also valued highly.
“I have played with him before, he has a girlfriend here so he comes over and performs here every once in a while,” says Bukelman. “He is an excellent drummer and it will be great to share the stage with him.”
The Jerusalem concert will open with a solo spot by Solberg.
“We’re not talking about a regular drum solo – dadadam dadadam. This guy creates a whole world of sound and rhythm and percussion. I think it will be a very interesting evening at Barbur.”
True to his free-flowing approach to music, and sound, Bukelman says The Door was very much a collaborative evolutionary effort together with Jones.
“Kadima has got some really great artists, like [American bassists] Barre Phillips and Mark Dresser. JC listened to the solo recording I did for Out Now and really liked it. I’d record a session then I’d go home and sit and listen to it, over and over. I’d make notes and try to pick out the best parts of each take.”
The gestation period eventually bore fruits.
“I suddenly had the idea of adding banjo and percussion to the guitar. The last session was like a dream for me. It all worked so well. That’s rare. I went through some difficult moments with the recording before the epiphany arrived. JC gave me carte blanche, and made comments about the material which I could accept or reject. But he knows so much about music. I was happy to listen to his words of wisdom.”
The Door, which includes 11 original tracks, is an extension of Bukelman’s quest to explore the world of sound, as opposed to pure melody.
“I try to create a world,” he says somewhat enigmatically.
“You don’t get that so much in jazz, for example. In jazz you normally have a framework within which you create. But, here, the whole aim is to devise that world, and to enter a different kind of atmosphere. That was definitely the intention with the CD. It wasn’t a matter of one track and then another one. I have an idea and try to find my way with it. It’s connected to dreams and I can say that this is the music that I dream about. I sometimes get up in the morning and play the music that has ‘cooked’ inside me overnight.”
This evening at Levontin 7 and tomorrow at Barbur the public will see, and hear, if the proof of the pudding really is in the eating, and whether Bukelman’s pudding is ready for consumption. Judging by The Door the audiences in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are in for an aural-culinary treat.
For more information: www.barbur.org and 054- 7232866, and www.levontin7.com and (03) 560-5084.