Sat 17 Dec 2011
The value of a cycle like the Hot Jazz series at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art is measured also in discovering and revealing to audiences less explored territories on the jazz planet. Austria is certainly a place appreciated for its huge musical tradition, but less associate with jazz. One more argument to appreciate the choice of bringing to Israel this week a young and tallented Austrian singer like Simone Kopmajer or Simone as she was presented to the Israeli audiences.
Simone Kopmajer was born in a family of musicians, and it looks like there were not too many doubts that music will be if not her profession at least the passion of her life. Some of the best moments in her show were when she was taking over some of the instrumental parts (blowing instruments especially) and rendering them in a way which was fully integrated into the musical logic of the songs, and also proved a good understanding of the specifics of the instruments whose sounds she was replicating.
I found on youTube a clip where she speaks about herself and also introduces a new album. The program in Tel Aviv was a compilation of songs ranging from pieces from the big American jazz and 20th century folk repertories, country music (one of her more recent discoveries and sources of inspiration), and up to contemporary pop. Each of these were processed in a classical vocal jazz manner, emphasizing the qualities of her voice and the talents of New-Yorker pianist John di Martino whose stage presence and musical personality would have been worth a concert of himself (the other two Austrian instrumentalists were unfortunately far behind).
If there was something to object in the musical evening last night it was the sound which amplified the volume of the voice of Simone louder than necessary making it sometimes sound strident while pushing down the bass guitar of Herfried Knapp too almost inaudible levels. Simone herself visibly enjoyed the show, but played a little bit too much with the usual tricks of speaking a few words in the local language. I do not appreciate visiting musicians doing it more than once or twice an evening if at all – after all when I come to a jazz event speaking English is somehow part of the convention. However at the very final encore of the evening her rendering of an Israeli song was made in an almost perfect and clear Hebrew, another proof of the skills of a young singer with the potential to become a star shining from an unexpected corner of the jazz universe.