Jazz dreaming

Yidov’s initial steps in show biz were with his brother. “We played at all sorts of places around Israel. We played Argentinian folklore material, which was my first musical love.”

Piano Festival  (photo credit: ILAN BASOR)
Piano Festival
(photo credit: ILAN BASOR)
Shlomo Yidov has been center stage in the local entertainment arena for a long time now. The 68-year-old Argentine-born guitarist and vocalist has been there and done that with some of our iconic pop and folk performers, the likes of Arik Einstein, Shoshana Damari, Yehoram Gaon and Esther Ofarim.
He is also one of the featured artists in this year’s Piano Festival, which will take place at various venues across Tel Aviv from November 13-17. While he is primarily identified with the pop and soft rock scene here, albeit often with some Latinesque seasoning, Yidov has also been known to step outside the boundaries of mainstream entertainment. Hence it is, perhaps, no surprise that his festival spot finds him joining forces with stellar Israeli jazz pianist Anat Fort, at the Cameri Theater on November 16 (9 p.m.).
At first glance, Fort and Yidov may seem like an incongruous pairing. But both, in their own way, have proven to be flexible artistic sparring partners over the years. While Fort is an internationally acclaimed jazz artist, a few years back has enjoyed an intriguing confluence with Israeli rock-pop titan Shalom Hanoch. Betwixt his more conventional work Yidov has been pushing the boat out across a wide range of domains, the best known of which was his time as a member of the short-lived Ketzat Acheret trio, along with flutist-pianist-singer Shem-Tov Levi and pianist-singer Shlomo Gronich. The threesome put out just one record, in 1974, which didn’t exactly have the cash registers ticking over but certainly left its mark on this country’s musical continuum.
“We were a little underground,” Yidov chuckles. The record was not exactly taken to the nation’s heart. “We got a little embrace,” he laughs. “In those days, the mainstream stuff was things like army bands, Yehoram Gaon, Naomi Shemer and Shoshana Damari, that kind of thing.”
BUT THEN, 20-something musicians looked further afield. “We were influenced by things happening outside the country,” Yidov notes. “Music from Britain and the United States.” This was when the Internet wasn’t even a twinkle in some computer geek’s eye. Yidov made aliyah with his family in 1964, when he was 13. The family settled in Jerusalem, and three years later the young oleh got a strong whiff of what was going down out there in the big wide musical world. “After the Six Day War – you know, we were the darlings of the world back then – a lot of volunteers came here from abroad, and they brought all the new records with them. I naturally connected with that.”
The youngster, whose first language was Spanish and who had yet to master Hebrew, found himself drawn to pop and rock numbers in English. That informed his own nascent creative efforts. “The first songs I wrote in Israel were in English,” he says. That includes one of Yidov’s best loved songs, “Shir Bein Arbayim” (Dusk Song). “That came out of a song I wrote in English called ‘Pink Skies.’ And there was ‘Sweet Song,’ which is on Ketzat Acheret.”
Another song, the first he ever penned, had Spanish lyrics and was originally called “Como la luna.” “I wrote that for my girlfriend in Argentina, whom I missed a lot,” Yidov recalls. That became “Erev Kachol Amok” (Deep Blue Evening), with Hebrew lyrics by Meir Ariel, and was a monster hit for pop-rock diva Rita.
Yidov’s initial steps in show biz were with his brother. “We played at all sorts of places around Israel. We played Argentinian folklore material, which was my first musical love.” As the ‘60s vibe eventually filtered over to the Middle East, Yidov gave vent to his creative impulses as a member of bands that played British and American rock in English.
It took a while for him to rediscover his Argentinean roots and he has been flitting between Hebrew and Spanish songs ever since.
He also harbors some jazzy intent. “I attended a course at Berklee College of Music,” he notes, referring to the famous Boston-based school of contemporary music. “I lived in New York for a while and got into some jazz there.”
While he says he didn’t dig “the formulaic jazz licks” he heard in Boston, he took the free-wheeling spirit with him on his evolving personal and musical odyssey. Years later, in 2010, he released an excellent album called Mitoch Hasheket (From Within the Silence), which has plenty of jazz coloring to it. “I wanted to use jazz in my own way,” he says. “I like jazz, and I incorporate improvisation.”
Which naturally leads Yidov to Fort. “I have known Anat for some years now. We talked over time and we suddenly clicked. I really like what she does. She’s the antithesis of those jazz licks. She has a different melodic approach. It’s great fun to play with her.”
For tickets and more information about the Piano Festival: *9080 and zappa-club.co.il.