Tigris’s Afro-Latin beat back in Tel Aviv after long hiatus

“Because the music is from all over the world, people can connect with it anywhere,” one of two percussionists in the band, Itamar Katzir, said.

TIGRIS, THE purveyors of Afro-Latin pop (photo credit: EIRAD NETZER)
TIGRIS, THE purveyors of Afro-Latin pop
(photo credit: EIRAD NETZER)

After a long hiatus, Israeli purveyors of Afro-Latin pop, the band Tigris, is bringing the jungle back to Tel Aviv.

According to one of two percussionists in the band, Itamar Katzir, Tigris’ music has developed its own language.

“You can’t mistake our music for anything,” he said.

"You can’t mistake our music for anything"

Itamar Katzir

Tigris may have formed in 2013 to create ethio-jazz and African music, but the group has evolved far beyond since then. With each album they’ve released, the band has combined new genres, from Middle Eastern brasses and eclectic space sounds to rock and distortion. However, the music is still recognizably Tigris. “Even if you listen to the difference between albums, you always know it’s us,” he says. “There’s something distinctive about the sound.”

Tigris’ music is completely cohesive. With Latin percussionists, Italian organs, tribal rhythms and even astral effects, it is hard to imagine the music would ever operate compatibly. However, it more than works.

 LIVE SHOW at Beit Romano. (credit: Teder FM) LIVE SHOW at Beit Romano. (credit: Teder FM)

One review of the band’s album HOP HOP described it as an “overflow with chemistry, showcasing infectious polyrhythms and hypnotic, gleaming melodies supported by nimble guitar leads.”

After nearly six months away from the stage, the band is returning to live performances at the Tel Aviv club Teder, on Saturday.

 “Teder has always been a home for Tigris,” Katzir says. “Our music really works with the atmosphere. We love and appreciate it.”

The band’s irregular performances are in part due to the solo ventures of its members. Guitarist Ilan Smilan and bassist Amir Sadot are a part of their own instrumental groove band Sababa 5, having performed alongside Aviv Ezra, Gili Yalo and many other Israeli singers. Keyboardist and trumpeter Roy Hermon is a talented producer, recording artist and mixer with collaborations always in motion. Percussionist Oded Aloni, with unique training in Afro-Brazilian instruments, has recently started a group to perform in traditional Brazilian samba circles.

The most recent and youngest member of the band but no less an accomplished percussionist, Katzir never felt as though he had to audition for a spot in Tigris. “It was very easy to slip into the band,” he says. “It’s been really beautiful to learn the grooves.”

In his day-to-day life, Katzir works as a journalist at Haaretz. While the polarity of a columnist by day and entertainer by night would be difficult for most, Katzir has been balancing two things for as long as he can remember. “I was actually serving in the military when I joined Tigris,” he admits. “It was really important for me to be a soldier and to also create music.”

The band’s music is often described by fans and critics as psychedelic, which Katzir can understand. “We use a lot of reverb that makes it sound a bit dreamy,” he says. “And sometimes the production itself can be a bit psychedelic.”

However, he doesn’t think the lucid and dreamlike atmosphere should detract from the intentional combinations of African, Latin and Brazilian sounds.

 “Because the music is from all over the world, people can connect with it anywhere,” he says. “There is something universal about Tigris that people really enjoy.”