The third concert in the ‘Hot Jazz’ series at the Tel Aviv Art Museum had as guest the American singer Vanessa Rubin.

Born in Cleveland, Vanessa Rubin moved in 1982 in New York and started a singing career, in parallel with a teaching and jazz evangelist path. She sang with Lionel Hampton, the Mercer Ellington Orchestra, Herbie Hancock, the Woody Herman Orchestra, and the Jazz Crusaders. Her teaching and coaching activities include music consultancy and student classes at such institutions as the Thelonious Monk Institute, Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center. Her repertoire includes many standards from the great female vocal American songbook, and works of composers such as Duke Ellington, Gershwin, and Dizzy Gillespie.

The show in Tel Aviv tonight was unfortunately partly spoiled by very bad sound engineering, one of the worst if not the worst in my memory in the many years since I watch this series of jazz concerts. The acoustic bass of Assaf Hachimi was almost permanently too loud, covering the rest of the players, and especially the the clarinet of Ilan Salem. For the clarinet to take the place of the saxophone in a jazz band, it needs not only instrumental talent and personality which Salem may have, but also clarity of sound and musical space, which was missing tonight completely. Young and gifted pianist Nitai Hershkowitz was the instrumental surprise of the evening. Shai Zalman did his usual gigs.

Vanessa Rubin tried her best in the given conditions, she slalomed valiantly through the technical difficulties in the first part, and succeeded to catch the attention and affection of the audience, with a series of standards which made good service to her vocal and emotional capabilities. After the break she seemed to be tired, tried to reconnect with the audience by telling some stories, but abandoned and cut short the performance after only another four or five songs. The few recordings that I found on youTube show that we missed the opportunity to know better a great singer, whose performance could have been memorable on a better night.