The concert last night in the Hot Jazz series at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art brought on stage a program composed of songs by George Gershwin, most of them from Porgy and Bess. I do not know whether this was a coincidence or the organizers of the series were aware that the neighboring opera house was planning to stage the South-African representation of the opera just a couple of months before the concert (I wrote about the representation in the Catcher). The danger of saturation was not unexpected.

(video source mjsjazz)

Two singers were the guests of the evening. American Miles Griffith is a solid musician and educator, whose range of works spread between Caribbean influenced songs to the Great American Songbook repertoire. He is also a composer with several CDs of his own music in the biography, as well as an entertainer, trying to catch the audiences with vocal repetition effects.

(video source jbQmedia)

Israeli-born Yaala Ballin lives in New York since 2004. Her style belongs to the very classical line of the great American jazz vocalists like Ella Fitzgerald.

Despite the promising biographies of the two guests something last night did not work. Each of the performers are valuable musicians (and this included the badn with Alan Tayar at piano, Tal Ronen at bass, Hagay Amir at saxophone and of course Shay Zalman at drums). Yet, they were not together, Miles and Ayala did not show chemistry to bridge by music the differences in styles and musical backgrounds, and the tentatives to engage the audience came too late and the performers themselves did not seem to be in the mood to believe that they can do it. With the series of Hot Jazz concerts extended to eight performances this year the organizers need to be careful that the programs are at a constant high level and that lower tune performances (which always can happen) like the one last night are exceptions.

(video source boinx1234)

I did not find any clip on the Internet bringing together the two vocalists who sang in Tel Aviv last night. There are however plenty of beautiful recordings of Gershwin’s music – here is one from Otto Preminger’s 1959 Porgy and Bess film.