An encounter between jazz and opera is an intriguing proposal. Jazz of course takes inspiration from all places, but opera and jazz are considered two quite distinct disciplines, with apparently few people enjoying both genres and even fewer musicians knowing, understanding, loving both and bringing them together. The opportunity of meeting one of these musicians is thus a rare event, and thanks to the Hot Jazz series at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art for creating this opportunity last night.

 

 

Mike Del Ferro has a classical formation, but switched to jazz quite early and built upon it all his career. His father was an opera singer, but for quite a while his jazz inspiration was taken from the music he met during his extensive travel around the world – Asia, Africa, South America. It’s only recently that he returned to the music that must have impregnated his childhood, and the fusion he is created is both expressive, reverent to the sources, and full of the freedom of imagination and creation that jazz allows. His style is quite original, he seems to be playing permanently with the piano, fighting and challenging the instrument, and the result is energetic in many moments, melancholic in other, catching the audience inside permanently.

 

(video source edovansanten)

 

The evening and Del Ferro were blessed by the presence of an experienced and talented group of Israeli accompanying musicians. Saxophonist Amikam Kimelman has an impressive stature on stage and good technique.  Bassist Simon Starr (who made alyah from Australia three years ago) had only two solos the whole evening, and I would like to listen to him more. The drummer last night was Eitan Itzkowitz who was skilled and expressive during his solos, discrete and supportive of the other musicians during the whole evening. The program included jazz versions of arias and orchestral preludes of several very popular operas as well as of Neapolitan canzonettas so close to the tradition of the Italian bel canto.

The last concert with this program is scheduled for tonight in Haifa and is worth attending for these who have the opportunity. Mike Del Ferro’s Web site can be seen at http://www.mikedelferro.com/.