Jazzing Jewish/Israeli roots

The 'Habayta' series, starting Saturday at J'lem's Beit Avi Chai, features original works from Israel's top jazz musicians.

Israel's top jazz musicians will play original works that combine Jewish/Israeli traditional music with classical jazz in the "Habayta" (Coming Home), with traditional Shabbat melodies, Yemenite and Ladino melodies and even Sasha Argov songs set to jazz improvisation. Suri Drucker, the producer of the series starting tomorrow night at Jerusalem's Beit Avi Chai, talks about kind of sound the series is promoting. "It's a very Middle-Eastern sounding jazz - completely different from New York jazz." The idea for this series began with Amit Golan, whose own jazz quintet will be performing later on in this series. The head of the Jazz Department at the Israel Conservatory of Music ("Stricker") in Tel Aviv and a jazz teacher at Tel Aviv's Thelma Yellin High School of Music, Golan notes that Israeli musicians are taking themes from music that is very close to their hearts, music from their childhood. By drawing from their own roots instead of approaching jazz from the standard jazz tunes of the 50's and 60's, their music achieves a special flavor. For the series's Saturday's opening, New York-based saxophonist/composer Eli Degibri brings in his all-Israeli quartet to host Yoni Rechter in an evening of Israeli song, some written especially for the evening, and others old favorites set to new adaptations. Saturday night, 9:30 p.m, Beit Avi Chai, 44 King George Street, Jerusalem, NIS 30/20. Tickets at Bimot (02) 623-7000, or Klaim (02) 622-2333