All buoyed up

16-year-old jazz musician Tomer Bar will present some his new material in a multimedia show at the Israel Festival.

Tomer Bar (photo credit: Courtesy)
Tomer Bar
(photo credit: Courtesy)
It’s amazing what one can find stowed away in a closet or desk drawer after several years. In Tomer Bar’s case, it was an album – or rather, all the raw material necessary for creating an album. “I played a lot of my own songs at home,” says the 16-year-old Bar, who has already recorded two jazz albums – the first one at age 12, “but I was embarrassed to show the public my own work.”
Eventually, though, his lyrics and compositions accumulated and he decided it was the right time to create something coherent out of what he calls the “mess in the drawer.” The resulting album, I’m a Blues Bunny, which is due to hit the shelves some time in the next two months, is a compilation of Bar’s original work. After finishing up in the recording studio, Bar says, “I am very satisfied, and it’s something very special for me to hear.”
The final product, he says, is something very diverse – a combination of jazz, pop and rock, which he classifies simply as a collection of songs and words, as he prefers not to be labeled according to just one musical style. “I don’t like the categorization of ‘jazz artist’ because it limits me,” he says. “Artistic freedom should allow the artist to be able to express himself without boundaries.”
Certainly, Bar grew up in the jazz tradition and so, he admits, it has a strong influence on his music. “Something in the freedom of jazz drew me to it,” says Bar, a 10th-grade student at the Thelma Yellin arts high school. He adds that his father, Atcha Bar, the guitarist in Tomer’s accompanying ensemble and an established jazz player, has also had a tremendous influence on him. “All the tools to get to the place I’m in – he’s responsible for it,” says Bar, explaining that the combination of his own newness to the music scene and his father’s many years of experience in the business complemented each other well during the production of I’m a Blues Bunny, a project headed by Atcha.
With Bar’s performance next week at the Israel Festival, he will have a chance to present his new material to the public for the first time – an opportunity that he is both extremely humbled by and excited for. “It’s not just another gig,” he says of the rare chance to perform in such an international forum.
Bar’s unconventional concert will incorporate a visual arts component implemented by the Beit Habatim Collective, including the screening of a slide show throughout the performance, which aims at connecting the audience to the music on a deeper level.
“The audience doesn’t only listen, but there’s a visual side that helps them see what I picture when I sing these songs,” says Bar, who has worked with Beit Habatim, a group of independent artists from south Tel Aviv, for many years. There will also be several stills photographers walking around the stage taking pictures while the concert is ongoing, which will be instantaneously fed through a computer and displayed on a split screen as the production continues.
For the festival, Bar has collaborated with singers Daniel Solomon and Mika Karni, whom he compares to The Beatles in terms of their accomplishments and celebrity stature in Israel.
When asked whether he aspires to play alongside the likes of Arik Einstein or Shalom Hanoch, he says, “I still don’t feel like I’m in that place yet,” referring to his maturity as an artist. “I really do feel like a boy.”
Right now, he says, he performs for the pleasure of his audience and is focusing on fulfilling his short-term aspirations to develop further as an artist. “I offer my music to anyone who wants it,” says Bar.
Tomer Bar and the Beit Habatim Collective will perform on May 27 at the Jerusalem Theater. For more information: