Entries tagged with “Hot Jazz”.

We enjoyed last night one of the best concerts in the last few years in the ‘Hot Jazz’ series at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. The band was composed of fine American and Israeli musicians who got together for a very satisfying performance. Antonio Hart – the band leader tonight – is an accomplished saxophonist and a recognized jazz teacher, he demonstrated personality and musical skills that cover many jazz genres fusioned in a free envelope. Wayne Tucker is one of the finest trumpet musicians I have ever listened to, his sound succeeds to be both crisp and silky. Hila Kulik grew up during her New York years from being a great talent to the status of a fine musician, and was tonight completely at peer with her American partners. Tamir Shmerling was a revelation at bass, I am looking forward to hear great music from him in the coming years. Shay Zelman drummed as he always does.



A sample of Antonio Hart’s music – ‘Stars Fell on Alabama’ recorded at the 2010 Taichung Jazz Festival.


‘Stars Fell on Alabama’ is a jazz standard composed by Frank Perkins with lyrics by Mitchell Parish. Singers like Ella Fitzgerald with Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Anita O’Day, and Dean Martin interpreted it, with musicians such as John Coltrane, Stan Getz and Ben Webster providing their own versions of the musical score.

The Taichung jazz festival is held yearly in Taiwan since 2003.

More about Antonio Hart:

‘Antonio Hart has been long recognized as one of the most talented instrumentalist of his generation. In recent years he has been recognized as an important jazz educator. In his 20 years as a professional musician he has performed and recorded with many jazz greats from Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Hargrove, Nancy Wilson, Nat Adderley, and McCoy Tyner to Dave Holland. Hart’s study of Jazz began at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. There, he studied with Bill Pierce, Andy McGhee and Joe Viola. The three teachers gave him the foundation he needed to develop into a professional musician. Because of the lessons learned at the Baltimore School for the Arts, Hart really thought it was important to have a balance between music and academia, so in his sophomore year he became a Music Education Major. He made many friends at Berklee, but the most important was Roy Hargrove. They spent three years touring the world and recording Hargrove’s first three records. Hart considers Hargrove to be his brother in life and music. He even used Hargrove on his first recording “For the First Time”. After graduating from Berklee College of Music, Hart also worked on a Master’s Degree at Queens College. There he had the opportunity to learn from the great Jimmy Heath and Donald Byrd. Hart felt blessed and honored when Mr. Heath produced his second recording “Don’t You Know I Care.” His 1997 release, ‘Here I Stand’ Impulse records, earned Hart a 1997 Grammy nomination for “Best Jazz Instrumental Solo’ He has also been in much demand as a guest on over 100 recordings, and seven CDs as a leader. The latest, ‘All we Need’ Chiaroscuro Records. After 12 years at Queens College Hart was promoted to Full Professor. Hart also maintains an extensive performance schedule and continues to conduct workshops and clinics throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. He feels very blessed to have the balance of teaching, as well as, traveling around the world. In his off time, he practices martial arts, and listens to other styles of music for inspiration. Hart is constantly trying to honor his many teachers by continuing to study music and teach to the best of his ability.’

(source http://antoniohart.com/about-us/)



(video source tyraelcgm)


When I first heard Wayne Tucker I immediately fell in love with the sound of his trumpet, his perfect mastering of the instrument, the sensibility and power of his interpretations.

Here he is playing solo a British popular song written in 1939 with lyrics by Eric Maschwitz and music by Manning Sherwin named “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square”. Written shortly before the outbreak of WWII the song became soon very popular in Great Britain being first performed in the London revue New Faces by Judy Campbell (the mother of Jane Birkin). In the US Glenn Miller and His Orchestra recorded the song with a Ray Eberle vocal in New York City on Oct. 11, 1940. Fritz Lang used the music in a 1941 film. Later it became one of the most popular songs associated with WWII on both sides of the Atlantic, with singers like Rod Stewart, Perry Como, or Petula Clark offering their versions and bands like Glen Miller’s, Brian Setzer’s and Sonny Rollins’ offering their instrumental versions.

(source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Nightingale_Sang_in_Berkeley_Square)





Hila Kulik and Wayne Tucker playing music together.

The song belongs to the Israeli popular music composer Sasha Argov (1914 – 1995).

The youTube recording is dated November 2015.


(video source Hila Kulik)

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/.

Evan Christopher was back last week in Tel Aviv, three years after his tour here, and it was a great opportunity to see and listen to him again in the 3rd concert of the Hot Jazz season at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.


source http://www.facebook.com/pages/%D7%92%D7%90%D7%96-%D7%97%D7%9D/173951125964161?ref=ts&fref=ts


California-born Christopher set base in New Orleans, which is one of the principal sources of inspiration for his style and repertory. The second one is the French manouche style which he became familiar with during his residency in France, after hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.


(video source klikonojazz)


The evening was dedicated to the New Orleans music and to saxophonist and clarinetist Sidney Bechet. Born in New Orleans in a Creole family Bechet’s carrier had up to a point similarities to Christopher. He also had the occasion to know European music and especially French jazz, the first time in the 1920s as a member of the Revue Nègre band, that included Josephine Baker, and later in the 1950s, when he settled in France, where he died in 1959. He knew Django Reinhardt and the hot jazz guitar (manouche) style. Here is one of the pieces from Bechet’s repertory played last Friday by Christopher, Petite Fleur, as recorded by Bechet in concert at Olympia in 1954.


(video source Desdemona2002)


The only clip I could find on youTube with the image of Sidney Bechet playing live was a version of St. Louis Blues.


(video source Gypsy Jazz School)


One of the interesting aspects of the Hot Jazz series is the meeting of the foreign guests with the local musicians. it’s always interesting to see the dialog between cultures and styles taking place in the language of jazz. Christopher’s partners last Friday were the Israeli group Swing de Gitanes composed of Yaakov Hoter and Alon Sagi on guitar and the excellent contra-bass player Oren Sagi. The three young musicians make gypsy jazz, here they are playing Tchavolo Swing.


(video source Dave Kelbie)


Much of the music that Christopher does today is also manouche. Here is one of the best examples I could find on the Internet, with one of the bands with one of the groups he created in France Django a la Creole (the name says it all about the fusion of New Orleans and French jazz traditions) doing the Farewell Blues. Do I hear echoes from Hora Staccato in the introduction?


(video source MarioMaccaferriRules)


Last, you can listen to another played by Evan Christopher on Friday in the concert in Tel Aviv – Songe d’automne - here is the version played together with The Rosenberg Trio.

The first evening in the Hot Jazz series at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art this year that I am attending (it was actually the second one, but I missed the first because of my professional trip in November) provided a revelation in meeting one of the best saxophonists today – Joel Frahm. This is not his first visit to Israel, he seems to have been here a few times, and enjoy it. And yes – I and the audiences here enjoy listening to him and to his music.


source http://www.nepr.net/blog/joel-frahm-storytelling-tenor


A classmate of Bred Mehldau at at Hall High School Wisconsin-born Frahm is a powerful gifted blower, who turns his capacity into the talent of creating a sound which is strong in volume, velvety in texture and complex in structure. He can take themes from standards and combine them into a story that becomes his owns and he drives the musicians playing with him, encourages them, appreciates them. He seems to feel equally at ease in swing and in blues. Watching him play is an experience not only because of his sound but also because of his attitude which one feels is full of respect and empathy for the musicians he is playing with and especially with his audiences.


(video source CultureBuzzIsrael)


Here is an interview he gave in Israel last week at the occasion of the visit. He speaks not only about the tour but also about the other Israeli music he met and worked with.


(video source dlhau)


Above is an excerpt of his music, but not from the last Friday concert. The show in Tel Aviv appropriately started with a tribute and dedication to Dave Bruebeck and continued with a lot of the music composed and inspired by Sonny Rollins.  The partner to Frahm for the tour was Israeli saxophonist Amit Friedman, a personality of his own about whom I plan to research, listen and maybe write more in the future. I have already noticed and mentioned bass player Gilad Abro and he did not disappointed me. I was not enthusiastic about pianist Hod Moshonov, neither did Shay Zelman break his routine.

Joel Frahm’s Web site is available here.


The Hot Jazz series at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art continue their exploration in the contemporary international jazz landscape, and the diversity of the artists and sounds brought up to the Israeli scene of jazz is one of the reasons for which it continues to draw interest, and actually I have the feeling that the interest is growing. Ziv Ben, the promoter and soul of the series presented last night the next season highlights, again eight concerts, again most if not all bring up new sounds and interesting musicians.


(video source martincongahead)


Arguably, the music played last night belongs less to jazz and more to the world music or Latin music genres. Labels however matter too little for me when it comes to professionalism and passion and these were present last night on the stage and in the sound played by Igor Arias Baro, the Cuban percussionist and singer who was the guest star of the evening, and the seven Israeli musicians who gradually filled the stage and played with him. Igor is not a very well known name on the scene of Cuban music (not to me in any case) and the few clips of his I found on youTube caught him playing in a restaurant and on the scene of a festival which is not one of the most famous. He does have however a good technique as a percussionist, a deep and strong voice and a vocalist and the charisma on stage mixed with a sense of humor which helped him raise up until the end of the performance most of the rather geriatric audience in the Tel Aviv hall, to dance and applaud him and the other musicians.


(video source Luisecc)


Supporting him on the stage last night were a band of Israeli musicians, some of them with Latin-American roots, all doing a good job (even Shay Zalman took the back row for an evening and played in a well-integrated manner together with the rest of the musicians). It was not a perfect sound, but you do not need it necessarily in Latin music, where rhythm and passion are more important. I must wrote doen however one more name, the pianist last night was Itay Abramovitch who demonstrated in a couple of songs good technique and personality at the piano connecting the music last night with the world of jazz that is the main theme of the ‘Hot Jazz’ series.


The 4th concert of the Hot Jazz series at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art played on much more traditional ground than the previous concerts, bringing on stage a couple of well known and experienced American instrumentalists – saxophonist Jesse Davis and drummer Victor Lewis.  The concert itself was a homage to another two musicians of the previous generation – Cannonball Adderley and Sonny Stitt. Let me start with a few information about these two, and of course, some of their music. The style both excelled in was hard bop which can be considered as an evolution of bebop enriched by influences of blues, soul and R&B.



(video source JazzVideoGuy)


Florida-born saxophonist Cannonball Adderley played with John Coltrane and Miles Davis in the late 50s, and then he formed his own group which experimented with the new forms of expression on the roads opened by free jazz. His most famous tune is probably Mercy, mercy, mercy composed together with Joe Zawinul who played in his band. Here is an interview from 1958 where Cannonball talks about Charlie Parker and plays “Tribute to Monk” and “Jeannie” together with Nat Adderley at trumpet, Jimmy Cleveland at trombone, Mundell Lowe at guitar and Billy Taylor at piano.


(video source zemry)


Sonny Stitt (also a saxophonist) was born in Boston and is considered to be the greatest disciple of Charlie Parker and himself a fine performer of blues and ballads. Above you can hear him together withJJ Johnson and H. McGhee, playing Charlie Parker’s composition  ‘Now’s the Time’.


(video source ducdeslombards75)


It took me less than 30 seconds to fall under the charm of Jesse Davis. He is born in New Orleans and seems to have in his blood the rhythm and joy of playing of the jazzmen in the city of jazz. Here he is playing a couple of years ago with the Leo Parker Quartet at the Duc des Lombards jazz club in Paris, near the George Pompidou Center (yes, I was there last June, this is where I have seen and heard David Reinhardt – OMG, Wynton Marsalis is playing tonight there, Captain Picard, where is that transporter!!).


(video source hkhakase)


I think that Victor Lewis is not for the first time in Israel, but I may be mistaken. Born in 1950 he is one of these drummers who understands well tradition and adds both rhythm and musical substance to the bands he is playing with. Above he is engaging in one of these solos that make you understand the real place of a good drummer in a jazz performance. He engaged in a few of those last Friday.



The performance last Friday was built of two sets of four ample pieces each, most compositions and music played by Adderley and Stitt, but also one (excellent) piece composed by Victor Lewis. It is always interesting to see musicians from abroad and especially experienced musicians coming from the American schools of jazz working with young Israeli musicians. In these case Lewis and Davis were complemented by Gilad Abro at contra-bass who succeed in a few solos to raise at the level of his American partners on the stage in Tel Aviv. I was less impressed by New York based Jonathan Riklis. Overall it was a solid and well balanced evening of jazz.

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.


source http://acousticshock.de/4484simone-kopmajer-didnt-you-say


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.


(video source ivanpix)


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).


(video source conecas1)


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.

The new season of the Hot Jazz series at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art started started this year earlier than usual. A new and better Web site, a Facebook group and video presentations by the series organizer Ziv Ben distributed to the subscribing fans improve the media exposure of the leading series of the Israeli jazz scene.


source http://www.hotjazz.co.il/


The first concert in the series had as guests two artists already known to the Israeli audiences. Cuba-born pianist Ramon Valle and Suriname-born singer Denise Jannah have already been here separately. They both live in the Netherlands, are quite active on the international jazz scene, and seem also to be active politically. They came here at a time when many artists boycott openly or just avoid coming to Israel, but they also were present last year at the ‘Music for Gaza’ event in Rotterdam.


(video source bobjazz11)


Ramon Valle is one of the finest pianists that I have heard lately. His musical phrasing is generous and expressive, his presence is exuberant and engaging. In some of his pieces he seemed to play successively the roles of a whole orchestra, sometimes sounding as the clarinet or saxophone, to switch then to the rhythmic improvisation, and then back to the piano finale. The clip above was filmed at the Montreux festival nine years ago, he is playing one of the pieces he also made last night together with Denise Jannah.


(video source shamaym100)


Denise Jannah was a good fit for Valle. She is a gifted singer of the class of performers who embrace the audiences and the audiences embrace them. The program last night was a balanced mix of original music composed by the two artists, Cuban classical tunes, standards by Charlie Parker and Gershwin and even an Israeli final song executed in flawless Hebrew. The audience responded enthusiastically, and the season can be considered to have started on a definite right foot.


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.


(video source bmendez1984)


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.


(video source afratus)


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.

The American singer Rene Marie was the guest of the 7th concert in the Hot Jazz series at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, which is having this year one of the best seasons I can remember. The increase in the number of concerts did not lead to a dilution in quality, quite the opposite, and led on the other side for more diversity and more genres and more new and surprising artists to be brought on stage for the audiences in Israel. This is great.

source http://renemarie.com/presskit/highres_9.jpg

Rene Marie is born in Virginia and the story of her life is quite interesting. She married young in a deep religious family belonging to the Jehova’s Wittnesses Christian denomination, and had little time to sing while she was raising he children. It was only after turning 40 that her elder son convinced her to take upon a singing career, but this cost her the marriage. Success was however almost immediate, as she got national and international recognition, awards and opportunities to perform at the some of the greatest festivals of jazz worldwide.

(video source ReneMarieGalax)

Rene Marie’s style and repertoire focuses on classical jazz, with elements of blues, soul, gospel, musicals and pop music. It’s not a singer that you would appreciate enough if you just listened to her CDs, you need to see her on stage. She has stamina and a very special human touch combined with a direct approach in talking to the audiences and singing for them. You feel that singing did not come easier for her, she may not be the most naturally gifted vocalist you met, but she has something deep inside that she wants to share and she does it in a vibrant manner.

(video source richmondjazzsociety)

The Israeli musicians who played with Rene Marie last Friday succeeded to form a coherent ensemble which resonated and amplified the American singer’s music. Koby Solomon is a balanced and professional clarinetist and saxophonist whose musical experience is felt and appreciated as soon as you hear him. Alon Tayar is a young pianist of talent that I wished would have dared more and I am sure that he will do it soon with excellent results. Rene Marie loves duet-ing with bass players and this allowed Assaf Hakhimi the opportunity to prove his skills. Shy Zalman was as always in a category of himself.

signing autographs on CDs after the concert

I bought a CD of her named Experiment in Truth which is a good introduction to her music. One can find here ‘Vertigo’ one of her best and well known songs, the pop-sounding and socially engaged ‘This is (not) a Protest Song’ and ‘O Nina’ – a tribute to Nina Simone, one of the inspiring figures for her career. However, trying to find the opportunity to listen to Rene Marie life is the best way to know her and her art.