The flow of love

Violinist Nassim Dakwar and percussionist Zohar Fresco perform at Confederation House in Jerusalem.

(photo credit: BASEL TANUS)
Once upon a time, musicians generally just played their roots music. By “roots” I mean the music they heard in their formative years – it doesn’t have to be ethnic music per se. Then, around 30 years ago, the world music revolution kicked into gear and the sector was blown wide open. Suddenly you had, for example, Ashkenazi musicians playing the oud, nei and all kinds of Middle Eastern, African and Indian instruments, and attaining pretty high levels of excellence, too.
Israel, with its cultural melting pot, was tailor-made for the eclectic evolution. One of the front-runners of the cross-cultural spread was Bustan Abraham, a nine-piece band that drew on a multitude of genres. Violinist Nassim Dakwar and percussionist Zohar Fresco were an integral part of the group, which recorded and performed across the globe from 1991 to 2003, and both have maintained their meandering creative paths.
There have been a number of confluences between this or that member of the Bustan Abraham crew, with Dakwar and Fresco due to share the stage of the Confederation House in Jerusalem on Wednesday, February 13, at 8:30 p.m. The violinist and percussionist will be joined by Uri Shefi on oud, lute and bouzouki; double bass player Hagai Bilitzky; nei (Arabic flute) player Moran Kaner; and Sarel Hacohen on qanoun.
Naturally, with the old sparring partners at the vanguard, the personal and professional chemistry should be there to allow the music to flow easily and seamlessly, with the rest of the gang fully on board. Dakwar says the snug ambiance extends to the sidemen as well. “Sarel, the qanoun player, was a student of mine at the [Jerusalem] Academy [of music and dance]. Uri was also a student of mine.”
All six players have traversed expansive musical domains, albeit from varying perspectives. Bilitzky, for example, started out as a jazzman who gradually weaved a path into the heart of Arabic music. Today, Bilitzky is one of the prime movers in the coadunative field, both as a player and an educator.
Wednesday’s concert goes by the name of Bab al Hawa. “That means ‘the door to love,’” Dakwar explains. “The concert will mostly be based on works I wrote, and also some by Uri.”
THE VIOLINIST says the current project just happened, with no specific intent. “Moran, the nei player, came to my home one day. She was interested to meet me and learn about my music. She had brought her instruments with her, and I wanted to get to know her, as a musician. So I asked her to play for me.” Things gradually began to gather a head of steam. “I took out my violin, and we began to play pieces together, well known compositions,” Dakwar continues.
The seed was well and truly sown. “A week later Moran called me and said, ‘Why don’t we do a concert together?’ And I said, ‘Why not?’” It is one thing to enthuse, but can be quite another to get down to brass tacks. “We had to come up with concept, a central theme,” says Dakwar. And there was the matter of cohorts in musical endeavor to be considered too. “I suggested Uri. I knew he had works of his own, and I suggested he feature them in the concert repertoire.” Fresco was Dakwar’s next port of call, and Bab al Hawa duly came to be.
The two old pals accumulated plenty of artistic and personal experience together during their time with Bustan Abraham. But Dakwar says he and Fresco will bring much more to the fray next week. “We have both done so much since then.” Indeed, Dakwar’s manifold enterprises include composing and arranging for himself and others, and heading the classical Arabic music ensemble at Tarshiha in the Galilee. Meanwhile, Fresco has branched out into Indian music and works with a broad range of fellow professionals, both as colleague and teacher. “Zohar and I have experienced a lot of things in our musical lives since Bustan,” he observes. “That comes across in our music too.”
Dakwar says the ideas for his scores come from every which way. “I get inspiration from music I hear, from within myself and from life itself,” he says. Some of his material comes across as highly complex, although he says he is not intentionally looking to challenge himself or the people who play with him or, for that matter, his audience. “I look for simple things, and beauty. Things with depth. The melody may sound simple, but the writing itself is very deep. Things come to me naturally. There is nothing mathematical about my music. I don’t assemble charts like Lego bricks. It just flows through me.

For tickets and more information call: 02-624-5206 ext. 4, 02-523-7000, or *6226; or go to, or