Israel Fest features jazz around the world

Italian trumpeter Paulo Fresu returns with his Devil Quartet, just four years after his previous appearance at the festival.

(photo credit: JEAN-LOUIS NEVEU)
Jazz fans hoping to find something out of the ordinary at our biggest cultural event may be disappointed to find relatively spare pickings on the adventurous artistic front. While German organ player Barbara Dennerlein will, no doubt, delight some – hearing a Hammond B3 organ played in true adventurous style can be one of the most enthralling sounds in jazz – the fact that Italian trumpeter Paulo Fresu returns with his Devil Quartet, just four years after his previous appearance at the festival, should raise an eyebrow or two. Fresu is lauded as one of the most dynamic trumpeters in Italy but there are hundreds of fine jazz musicians out there who have yet to grace an Israeli stage.
Another jazz-oriented act in the program is the Tremolo percussion-based show fronted by stellar performer Zohar Fresco, with a whole host of jazz or jazz-inclined drummers in two, the likes of veteran timekeeper Araleh Kaminsky, New York-based Karen Teperberg, Gilad Dobretzki, Tomer Yariv and Roni Holan, along with the percussion nonet Tremolo Ensemble. Meanwhile, Dennerlein will front a trio which includes guitarist Herman Romero and drummer Pius Baschnagel, and will perform repertoire that tends towards the blues and Latin jazz side of the tracks.
Meanwhile the homebased Niogo quartet of reedman Omri Abramov, pianist- keyboardist Guy Skolnik, bassist Shai Hazzan and drummer Utzi Zimmering may offer the best opportunity to hear something off the beaten track. The band will mix American and European jazz material with western classical sensibilities, and some electronic sonic endeavor. The Jazz and World Music category also features fado singer Cristina Branco from Portugal.
There is more from those geographical environs when the Me la Amargates Tu ensemble takes the stage to perform an enticing program of Ladino songs and Spanish songs from 15th and 16th centuries. The group, which includes Argentinean tenor vocalist Esteban Manzano, along with four instrumentalists, and guest artist Israeli mezzo-soprano Brach Kol, will perform a wide range of compositions that were originally primarily sing at social gatherings, such as weddings and funerals, and on religious holidays.
Whenever Andres Mustonen takes the stage you know you are going to see something dynamic and colorful.
The high energy Estonian conductor-violinist spends much of his working time in this country, and he will feature in the festival as part of the Love Dance and Battle concert, in which he will join forces with his Hortus Musicus ensemble. Mustonen and his players will perform Renaissance and early Baroque works which hail from Germany, Italy, England, France and Spain.
Other highlights on the classical side of the festival lineup include Italian pianist Maurizio Baglini confluence with compatriot cellist Silvia Chiesa in a program that takes in works by Paganini, Rachmaninov and Brahms.
Meanwhile, the seemingly ubiquitous Mustonen will also be front and center, this time only on violin, in the Mozart Marathon concert which features 11 instrumentalists and the Vocal Octet a cappella troupe. Pianist-conductor Gil Shohat will preside over the onstage proceedings.
Any performance of Bach’s Mass in C Minor is generally a grand affair and the rendition of the richly-textured composition by the orchestra of the Franz Liszt School of Music Weimar, from Germany, should be a thrilling experience for all concerned.
And, while the identity of the winner for this year’s Arthur Rubinstein Piano Master Competition will not be known until May, the successful contestant will make an appearance in a program that also includes the Gurfinkel clarinet duo.
The contemporary Israeli music section of the festival features a tribute to late troubadour Yossi Banai, a concert by veteran Israel Prize-winning crooner Yehoram Gaon, which will include a rare appearance in this country by Esther Ofarim. Meanwhile globetrotting rocker Asaf Avidan will feed off his quieter side, in an acoustic show on the last day of the festival.