Tel Aviv is indisputably the cultural and party capital of Israel, and this week she will revel in a concentrated dose of her glory at the Laila Lavan (White Night) festival, which begins Thursday evening of Thursday (June 29) and runs until dawn the following morning. Although the one-night cultural bash features events throughout the city [see following article], its core is a marathon concert of avant-garde jazz and new music taking place at the Enav Cultural Center on Ibn Gavriol and featuring more than a dozen performances of cutting edge instrumental music by local and international artists. The most well-known of these is Danish saxophonist John Tchicai, who has been exploring the creative outer reaches of music for decades. Born in 1936 in Copenhagen, he moved to New York in the early 60's where he joined the burgeoning free-jazz movement and recorded with the likes of John Coltrane and Albert Ayer. Returning to Europe in 1966, he established many ensembles and became a sort of godfather for the European avant-garde jazz scene. In the decades since he has consistently performed worldwide and has also put great effort into teaching the art of improvisation. Based in California since 1991, he has released over 20 albums as a leader and is the recipient of a lifetime composing grant from the Danish Ministry of Culture. Another exciting international performer is up-and-coming Irish guitarist Mark O'Leary, whose music creates a space where jazz, free-improvisation and chamber music meet. He has played in over 20 countries with a wide variety of artists, including Jack DeJohnette, Michael Manring, Bill Bruford, the Cikada String Quartet, Kenny Wheeler and many others. Considered an un-sung hero of contemporary guitar, he has released four critically acclaimed recordings on Leo Records, a UK-based record company that has been at the forefront of improvised music since 1979. Other performers include Japanese computer music artist Tetsuo Furudate, the Kinetic Trio from Poland, bassist Jean-Claude Jones, Danish pianist Olga Magieres, saxophonist Gilad Roth, the Art Ensemble of Tel Aviv, clarinetist Harold Rubin, and many other Israeli avant-garde musicians. The evening closes with a performance, scheduled at 5 a.m., with powerhouse drummer Noam David and his ensemble. David, well-known in the jazz community for his intricate, adventurous playing, has assembled a new project that mixes progressive jazz with Arabic and Middle-Eastern music. This is the major concert of the season for new, improvised music - last year it was packed, so it might be a good idea to get tickets early. If it happens that exploratory jazz isn't your cup of tea, it's still worth your while to go ou for the night, as the whole city will be alive from dusk until dawn with myriad events, performances and happenings. The Laila Lavan Music Marathon begins at 6:30 p.m., Enav Cultural Center, Ibn Gavriol 71 in Tel Aviv. Tickets are NIS 120 for the entire event or NIS 50 for a specific concert, and can be ordered at 03-521-7763. There is a discount for advance purchase. For a complete list of artists and schedule please see www.tlart.info.