Entries tagged with “Tel Aviv Art Museum”.

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.

source http://www.tamuseum.com/new-building


We succeeded last Saturday to catch the last day of the exhibition of Anselm Kiefer, without doubt one of the most important exhibitions of a non-Israeli contemporary artist to open in Israel in the last few years. The German artist is born in 1945, in last months of the second world war in the small town of Donauschingen in the Black Forest, which I visited two years ago, the place where the Danube starts its journey across Europe. Since his early days of his carer the main theme of his work was the recent history of Germany, the cultural identity and the relation between himself as an artist and his people with the past. The exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art was conceived together with the late Mordechai Omer, the former director and curator of the museum, who unfortunately did not live to see the exhibition open at the inauguration of the new Herta and Paul Amir building designed by Preston Scott Cohen.



The West-Eastern Divan is one of the works that best define this exhibition. It is inspired by Goethe’s collection of poems written between 1815 and 1819, inspired by his contact with the Muslim culture and poetry. As Goethe’s poems, Kiefer’s work does not address directly the theme, but uses concepts and forms derived from the contact of the civilizations. On two oposite walls 27 windows each comprise snapshots of the remote ‘exotic’ realities of the different landscapes, flowers, sands, as a scale up wonder box in the style of the 18th century travelers collections. On the wall connecting the two are inscribed the names of the German, Jewish and Muslim thinkers and artists who created works that bridge between cultures.

Maybe one of Goethe’s poems illustrates best the feeling. It seems fit to me, as it also includes the idea of turning water into crystals which connects with the esoteric alchemist tradition, another theme present in the work of Kiefer, also in this exhibition.

Minstrel’s Book: Song and Structure


LET the Greek his plastic clay

Mould in human fashion,
While his own creation may

Wake his glowing passion;

But it is our joy to court

Great Euphrates’ torrent,
Here and there at will to sport

In the Wat’ry current.

Quench’d I thus my spirit’s flame,

Songs had soon resounded;
Water drawn by bards whose fame

Pure is, may be rounded.

(source of translation http://www.readbookonline.net/read/3242/12956/)



Ingeborg Bachman and Paul Celan are the two poets who strongly inspired Kiefer’s work. The Ashflower – For Paul Celan is dedicated to the Jewish poet, born in Bukovina in 1920, then part of Romania, who survived the Holocaust to become one of the first poets of German expression who tried to cope in poetry with his own personal tragedy (much of his family including his parents were assassinated in the Holocaust), with the relation between the Jewish and German nations, with the tragedy of the Jewish intellectuals of German expression torn between their own conflicting identities.

Here is one of his most famous poems written on this subjects – Death Fugue

Black milk of daybreak we drink it at sundown
we drink it at noon in the morning we drink it at night
we drink it and drink it
we dig a grave in the breezes there one lies unconfined
A man lives in the house he plays with the serpents he writes
he writes when dusk falls to Germany your golden hair Margarete
he writes it ans steps out of doors and the stars are flashing he whistles his pack out
he whistles his Jews out in earth has them dig for a grave
he commands us strike up for the dance 

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you in the morning at noon we drink you at sundown
we drink and we drink you
A man lives in the house he plays with the serpents he writes
he writes when dusk falls to Germany your golden hair Margarete
your ashen hair Sulamith we dig a grave in the breezes there one lies unconfined

He calls out jab deeper into the earth you lot you others sing now and play
he grabs at teh iron in his belt he waves it his eyes are blue
jab deper you lot with your spades you others play on for the dance

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you at at noon in the morning we drink you at sundown
we drink and we drink you
a man lives in the house your golden hair Margarete
your ashen hair Sulamith he plays with the serpents
He calls out more sweetly play death death is a master from Germany
he calls out more darkly now stroke your strings then as smoke you will rise into air
then a grave you will have in the clouds there one lies unconfined

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you at noon death is a master from Germany
we drink you at sundown and in the morning we drink and we drink you
death is a master from Germany his eyes are blue
he strikes you with leaden bullets his aim is true
a man lives in the house your golden hair Margarete
he sets his pack on to us he grants us a grave in the air
He plays with the serpents and daydreams death is a master from Germany

your golden hair Margarete
your ashen hair Shulamith


(translation source – http://www.mat.upm.es/~jcm/celan-daybreak.html)



Black Flakes belongs to the same cycle. The colors are mostly grey. Infinite and desolated fields are marked by structures left burnt by a devastating fire, dividing the universe in rows of symbols that cannot be read by humans. In the middle a Book, made of lead, it’s content impossible to read. Lead is one of the preferred materials of Kiefer, heavy but malleable, grey and yet the alchemists were dreaming about turning it into gold.



Cain and Abel connects the theme of the Holocaust with another major theme of this exhibition – the Bible as a root of the Jewish and universal civilization. The scorched fields are present here again, but over them are imposed two skis, one ascending, one descending, almost parallel but going on opposite direction, symbol of the contradictions of the human soul and destiny since the emerging of our species and back in the original mythic space. Kiefer’s works are large in dimensions, and they combine painting with materials applied that create another half of dimension, it’s a tormented variant of the antic art of the basso-relief.



With Samson we are completely emerged into the Biblical story, with another thematic element showing up – the codes of the Kabbalah, inscribed in the upper-left register.



Noah deals with two of the Biblical subjects present also in other works. The myth of Noah and his arch and the image of Mount Ararat, visually described in various manners. Is the submarine in the work (applied on the two-dimensional structure) a vessel of survival? This remains an open question, as no living soul can be detected. What is sure is that a catastrophe of large proportions took place and we are witnessing the aftermath. Are there any survivors?



The Breaking of the Vessels was specially created for this exhibition, part of it during an event which was caught up by a video that can be watched at the entry of the exhibition. It’s a complex work, in an almost enclosed structure. Broken glass is a painful symbol in the shared history of the German and Jewish people bringing back the memory of the Kristallnacht. Yet, the name of the work (in Hebrew Shevirat HaKelim) has a Kabbalistic significance, as the vessels of light were broken, but this is only the beginning of a cycle of personal and collective introspection, re-building and fixing of the world – Tikkun olam – one of the most beautiful symbols in Judaism.

I found the following text about the kabbalistic interpretation of the concept of The Breaking of the Vessel:

According to Luria, the ten vessels that were originally meant to contain the emanation of God’s light were unable to contain that light and were hence either displaced or shattered. As a result of this cosmic catastrophe, the Sefirot, the archetypal values through which the cosmos was created, are shattered and out of place, and the world within which we reside, is composed of the shards of the these broken values. It is significant that for the Kabbalists, only 6 of the 10 Sefirot (from Chesed to Yesod) were fully shattered (Malchut, the final vessel was broken partially). Had all of the vessels, including, Keter, Chochmah, and Binah, been shattered, the universe would have been thrown back into the state of complete and utter chaos, the toho and bohu prior to creation. As it is, the three highest Sefirot, which represent Will, Wisdom, and Understanding, remained intact; only the six Sefirot representing the spiritual, moral, aesthetic and material values were broken, and are, hence, in need of restoration or repair (Tikkun). Nevertheless, the Breaking of the Vessels is a truly cataclysmic event. Will, Wisdom and Understanding remain, but all other values, particularly those embodied in the cultural and symbolic order of mankind, have been shattered. Further, while certain forms (may) remain, their embodiment in matter, is chaotic and confused. The Breaking of the Vessels is, according to the Lurianic Kabbalah, a clearing of the decks, a fresh start, and a challenge to the structures that we equate with our own civilized life. It is, in short, an eruption of chaos into the heart of our spiritual, conceptual, moral and psychological structures.

(source and more http://www.newkabbalah.com/shev.html)


More information and articles about the exhibition:







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 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.

Let me cross the street (over the bridge) for this posting and remember one of the exhibitions at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art that Liliana and me visited last Friday morning. I will be back with impressions about other artists who expose at the Litvak Gallery in future postings.


Zubin Mehta in Rehearsals - source http://www.midnighteast.com/mag/?p=13808


The biography of photographer Yakov Agor is one of those legendary biographies of Jewish personalities of the 20th century that can make you dream, or can lead to assertive judgments. He was born in Ukraine in 1911, lived his youth in what was then Poland, took his first pictures when he was 8, and made his studies in Berlin at the School of Art. He spent WWII in the Soviet Union where he worked in the film studios, and after the war he made a name to himself in Poland in the 50s, designing theater sets.


Hanoch Levin - source: http://www.tamuseum.com/en/exhibition-images/16280


When he arrived in Israel in 1958 his name and fame had preceded him and, he was received as a personality and quickly integrated in the Israeli press and art scene. He worked from 1960 to 1962 for Uri Avnery’s HaOlam Haze magazine, and starting with 1963 for the weekend supplement of Ha’Aretz. He became the best known photographer of the art and cultural scene of Israel for the coming two decades. Yakov Agor passed away in 1996.


Golda Meir - source http://www.midnighteast.com/mag/?p=13808


For this first major exhibition of Agor in a museum, curated (not alone) by internationally famous artist Dani Karavan offers a consistent collection of photos, mostly portraits. There are not too many (the exhibition is organized in the side room on the right-hand side of the museum entry) but most of them are strong and sensitive. The technique used by Agor avoided in a programmatic manner any artificial light, and this gives depth and density to the image, with some kind of dark vagueness similar to the technique of clair-obscure paintings. Most of the works are portraits of artists or public personalities, although a few surprises are reserved for the visitors in the non-portraits shots. For the older generation this exhibition must be a certain source of nostalgia, for us, the more recent Israelis a meeting with figures who are part of the legend of a young country we never knew. Even if part of them are still alive they are now at the golden age, in the pictures in the exhibition we met them young and enthusiastic as Israel was once and most important of all alive and present due to Agor’s art.

More information about the exhibition is available at http://www.tamuseum.com/en/about-the-exhibition/16280. It will stay open until October 8, 2011.



Liliana and me spent today a morning in the exhibitions in Tel Aviv. We first visited the collective exhibition of Czech glass art opened last week at the Litvak Gallery, then we crossed the bridge and strolled in a few of the exhibitions at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.  I will share a few of the most interesting artists and works we have seen in successive postings on the blog.



‘Freedom to Create: Beyond the Glass Curtain’ is the name of the exhibition that collects works of 15 of the most important artists in glass from the Czech Republic and Slovakia.  The art of glass has a tradition of centuries in this area but there is one more reason for the two countries who were until 20 years ago part of Czechoslovakia to be one of the top centers of glass art in the world nowadays. While artists in the Communist period enjoyed the government support awarded to artists who could improve the prestige of the motherland, they were less subjected to censorship and political pressures for the simple reason that glass art was categorized more as a craftsmanship or decorative art than a mean of expression that could carry subversive political messages. In a genre that requires studios, tools and collective work, the artists from Czechoslovakia continued the tradition and developed with government support a modern school of glass art with a broad diversity of means and expressions.


Vaclav Cigler - Star of David


Vaclav Cigler (born 1929) is one of the most famous artists, head of school and professor in Bratislava. He already had an exhibition dedicated only to his work at Litvak, I wrote about it here. From his previous presence here the gallery remained with the Star of David made of optical glass in large window towards the Art Museum. Cigler also designed the arrangement and presentation of the works in the current exhibition. Although many of the artists who are exposed belong to the elder generation that emerged and created before 1989, all the works were created in the last two decades, some are very recent. Works created in an environment of full freedom, based on tradition and continuous exploration.


Vclav Cigler - Clear Cone


Cigler himself is also present with another work in his preferred media – optical glass. ‘Clear Cone’ as many of Cogler’s work catches inside the volume of the optical glass the lights and shapes of the external space, molds and transforms them, and sends them back enriched to the viewer. Observing such a work is a complex process of examination, each different angle offering a different perspective with changing relations between the inner and outer spaces.

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.


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.

When I saw that the program of the 6th evening in this season of the Hot Jazz series at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art included violinist Meg Okura I knew that it would be an interesting evening. I did not know that at some moments it will touch magic.

(video source mcarikn)

I love jazz violin and the biography of Meg Okura offers a lot of hints that she makes interesting music. She is born in Japan in 1973 and lives in New York City. She leads the Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble and plays besides violin a traditional Japanese instrument named erhu – some details about it can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ehru. She graduated the Julliard school and was a featured violinist with Cirque du Soleil. She has a two and a half months daughter. This is her first visit in Israel and the concert last night was open by a version of Mussorgski’s Paintings in an Exhibition – the same piece as in the youTube version above.

(video source mcarikn)

Here she is with another classical piece – a Nocturne by Chopin. The combination between classical music and jazz brought her together with Israeli pianist Eric Niceberg with whom she works for a number of years. While the first part of the concert featured famous classical tunes in jazz arrangements, the second one took jazz standards by artists like Oscar Peterson and Chick Corea and packed them in classical arrangements for violin followed by the jazz interpretation of the band. Niceberg is a gifted pianist, his sound fills the air and envelops the listener in a romantic mood. Avri Borochov had some fine moments at bass, with unexpected sparkles of humor. Aviv Cohen at drums – a little boring to my taste – completed the band. The star of the night was however without any doubt Meg Okura, with moments of passion and deep feeling that raised towards the peaks. There was only one Japanese piece (dedicated to the memory of the victims of the earthquake and tsunami) whose title translates if I got it right Night over the Castle and this was maybe the best moment in an evening of jazz which left nobody in the audience indifferent.

The Hot Jazz series at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art proposed for its 5th concert of the season an experiment. Instead of bringing in one special guest with his band or with an Israeli band (usually in quartet formula) it joined two North American jazz instrumentalists – saxophonist Seamus Blake and drummer Rodney Green with two Israelis living in the US – guitarist Assaf Kehati and bass-player Noam Wiesenberg. I do not know if the four ever played together before as a quartet, maybe not, but jazz is also about such first time or sparse encounters, and the idea is interesting and had the potential an interesting jazz evening.

(video source lillyinjazz)

Seamus Blake is born in 1970 in England, and was raised in Canada. He entered the jazz stage in the 90s and played with the Mingus and John Scofield’s bands. He is located in New York City and has six albums on record and leads his own bands for the last few years, in a stylish and cultivated tenor saxophone style, with influences of electronic music. More information about him can be found at http://www.seamusblake.com/fr_home.cfm

(video source adrianwaj)

Rodney Green is born in Philadelphia, and since the age of 16 played in bands first in his native city and then in New York. He worked with musicians like Wynton Marsalis, Diana Kroll, George Benson, Ravi Coltrane, Herbie Hancock , Dianne Reeves. Lately he leads his own Rodney Green Group. More information can be read and music can be heard at http://www.rodneygreenmusic.com/

(video source Assafkehati)

Guitarist and composer Assaf Kehati works in Israel and for the last few years in New York and Boston. He performed at the famous Blue Note club in NYC and the the Washington DC Jazz festival. Information and music are accessible at http://www.myspace.com/assafkehati

(video source jazzeyerecords)

The program of the concert last Friday included mostly compositions by Blake and Kehati. For most of the time it was Kehati who gave the tone with intense and passionate guitar improvisations. Green and Wiesenberg stood in the background while Seamus Blake was leading the band in a mood a little bit too cool to my taste for almost the whole concert. Only in the last two pieces he suddenly woke up (maybe it was the last song announcement?) and put more passion in his acts, proving that he can really create hot jazz moments. It’s a pity the concert ended when we felt the musicians just warmed up, but the time was over. The piece above with Blake and Green (but without the Israeli instrumentalists) is from the album Live in Italy, a previous cooperation of Blake and Green.