Winter jazz in Eilat

Cool weather combines with a very cool program at this season’s Red Sea Winter Jazz Festival.

Jazz good 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Jazz good 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Anyone who has attended the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Eilat, which is traditionally held in the last week of August, may have had their musical enjoyment tempered by the sometimes oppressive heat. With the initiation of a new winter version of the festival, jazz lovers will be able to groove and sway to a wide range of jazz and ethnically seasoned musical fare in far more clement conditions.
The Red Sea Winter Jazz Festival will take place at the Port of Eilat between January 20 and 22. There will be a total of eight concerts, with almost all the shows offering a clear world music orientation. Artistic director Dubi Lenz, who has broadcast the evolution of world music in this part of the world through his popular long-running Galei Zahal radio show, has put together a lineup that culls from numerous cultures and genres.
“Just like the jazz program I compiled for the Givatayim Theater jazz series, I want to enjoy the shows in the festival,” says Lenz. “The program is a reflection of my own tastes in music.”
Hardcore jazz fans will no doubt enjoy an intriguing synergy between veteran pianist Kenny Barron and high-profile Israeli saxophonist Eli Degibri. “I asked Eli what he’d like to do at the festival, and he asked me to bring Barron over,” explains Lenz, adding that putting together the program for the festival’s debut edition involved dealing with some difficult constraints, too.
“I only had four weeks to get the program together.
Naturally, musicians book their concerts way in advance, so some weren’t available. But I still managed to get about 85 percent of the artists I wanted,” he says.
Lenz is particularly delighted he managed to get 63-year-old Brazilian superstar pianistguitarist Egberto Gismonti on board. “He is the ultimate musician,” Lenz enthuses. “I wasn’t at all sure I could get him, but I did a very emotional interview with him 15 years ago. It was shortly after [iconic Brazilian composer-musician Antonio Carlos] Jobim died.
Maybe Egberto remembered that interview and that’s what convinced him to come to Eilat. It is a great thrill to have him here again, at the first winter festival.”
Lenz was also keen to offer local musicians the opportunity to feature in the program and says he had a pleasant conundrum to deal with.
“There are so many excellent jazz musicians here – five times more than I could possibly accommodate at the festival.”
The festival offers a chance for drummer Doron Raphaeli to return to Eilat with a sextet show that accommodates a heady ethnic mix with African, Latin jazz and Middle Eastern rhythms and harmonies.
Raphaeli kept time for Israeli jazz band Minuet, which played in Eilat in the late 1980s, and he has developed into numerous areas of music in the interim.
Elsewhere in next week’s lineup there is explosive cross-genre trio The Bad Plus; dynamic Indian percussionist Trilok Gurtu; and Argentinean tango doyen, pianist-vocalist Juan Carlos Caceres and his Tango Negro Trio, who will offer a blend of driving African tribal rhythms and rich European marches.
Lenz is also happy to offer some added spiritual-cultural value in a confluence between two Egyptian and two Israeli siblings with the Brothers for Brotherhood show, which features Egyptian-born Australian-bred siblings oud player Joseph and percussionist James Tawadros.
They will join forces with Israeli drummer Rea Mochiach and bassist Tom Mochiach in a concert that Lenz hopes will “convey a message that goes beyond the heartwarming rhythms and melodies, expressing people’s wish to live in peace and work together in real collaborations, sharing culture and joy.” Amen.
January 20-22. Jem sessions will be held every night at Isrotel’s King Solomon Hotel near the pool. For more information about the Red Sea Winter Jazz Festival: