Soup, beer and jazz nuts

For Dor, it's music for music's sake.

Dor Rosenberg plays piano in a jazz quartet every Thursday night at Hamarakiya - the homey, inexpensive soup and beer hangout on Rehov Choresh in downtown Jerusalem. The 22-year-old Jerusalemite moved to England as a child, then returned to pursue a bachelor's degree in graphic design at Bezalel. He started his musical career studying classical piano when he was eight. He loved it, still does, but encountered jazz for the first time in high school when his friends started playing it around him. They introduced him to it and sparked something big. "A lot of people think jazz is a very intellectual thing," says Dor, "and part of it is; but when I heard jazz for the first time, I didn't need to know exactly what was going on to know that I liked it." Now that he has played for some years, he's better able to describe what it is about jazz that keeps him interested. "It's a special way of thinking," he says. "It's not as if you're playing something written down in a different way; you're doing a whole different thing. It's the moment; [for example] you're gonna play a solo and it could be the best you ever played, and you could never play it again." Dor keeps his improv sharp by practicing piano daily and playing in public every week. His group also includes Eyal Ganor on drums (a contra bass player with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra); Tel Aviv sax player Daniel Zondiner; and long-time friend Kiril Charikover on bass. Dor credits their success to a high level of understanding and effective communication - things he describes as the bedrock of good jazz. They play standards alongside original pieces written mostly by Dor and Daniel, who count Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner and Freddy Hubbard among their influences. Israel has also produced some well-known names in jazz, and Avishai Cohen and Omer Avital are among those who have played at Hamarakiya. "I think the place has a very special spirit," says Dor. "The people aren't all of a certain type; it's just people who like music. You never feel uncomfortable there. I feel really at home." His music is more to him, though, than just an opportunity to play in front of others; for Dor, it's music for music's sake. "It's fun to play for the audience," he says, "but we're totally doing it for ourselves; we also do it at home. We meet up and play for hours."