Sat 9 Jul 2011
I hesitated on the title of this note about the concert last night, the last of the season in the Hot Jazz series at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, a season about I already wrote that it was one of the best in the history of the Friday night jazz series. My hesitation was about calling the music played by the Brazilian singer Ceumar and the Israeli-Brazilian ensemble Chorole, as jazz or world music. The dominant stye of the music played was choro which is a traditional Brazilian music style, and the overall sound and atmosphere was far from the usual jazz that the subscribers of Hot Jazz. So ‘world music’ or ‘jazz’? Well, after all categories matter less, what counts is the music.
Ceumar was born in Sao Paolo, but currently lives in Amsterdam. She plays the guitar and percussion but is first of all a singer with a beautiful voice and a warm presence on the scene. She loves the music that she is making and the audiences feel it. Telling a little more about the Brazilian music for audiences that are less initiated in it (as I am) would have been very useful, but on the other side I am not a fan of those kind of concerts which include too much talking and risk to turn into lectures.
The ensemble Chorole is led by Salit Lahav who last night played the flute and the accordion. Based in Israel it is close to the traditional choro band instrumental structure, and composed of two Israelis and two Brazilian musicians. They toured Brazil twice, and their repertoire includes besides the traditional Brazilian music also their own pieces which mix the Middle Eastern and Brazilian sounds. They played two of these last night and they were quite good.
I remain however with mixed memories from the performance last night, which somehow fell behind the best evenings of the season. I am sorry to say it but there was a difference of quality between the remarkable Brazilian singer, so gifted and in her element with her music and the Israeli musicians. Lahav’s flute sounded strident at some instances, and I am not sure if this is her style or the fault of the sound technicians. The dimensions and the setting of the air-conditioned concert hall in Tel Aviv seemed not to resonate well with the style of the music and although the public eventually reacted warmly it was only a partial joining and it looked and sounded a little artificial. This performance would have fit better in the outside, maybe on an open stage and in the heat of the Tel Aviv harbor.
The choice of the repertoire seems however to belong to a trend which already started in the previous seasons and is more clear in the program of the next year season. Roughly half of the performers in the next season belong to the Latin space. This is nice and this not completely new, as in the past the series brought in Israel such performers or other belonging to the world music space, the memorable concerts of the Irish band The Willin’ Fools are the first to come to my mind. I have already bought my subscription for next year, but it looks like for the true jazz (classical and modern) sound I may need to look also for other sources.