Sunday, November 4, 2012

Mezzo Jazz Mix Festival comes to Jerusalem

A concert on October 31st 2012 at the Gerard Behar Centre was one of six Israeli jazz concerts (four in Tel Aviv and two in Jerusalem) as part of the Mezzo Jazz Mix Festival, an international project launched originally in the USA in 2008 by the Mezzo channel. Mezzo -the French television music channel - will broadcast the concerts in March 2013, beginning each with views of the streets and buildings surrounding the concert hall. Addressing the audience at the Gerard Behar Centre, Yossi Sharabi, the director of the Culture, Society and Leisure Administration of the Jerusalem Municipality, spoke of the concerts as yet another opportunity to expose the artistic energies of Jerusalem. Omri Batz, CEO of Talit Communications, representing Mezzo in Israel, reminds us that, more than ever, Israel has become a country offering culture of the highest level.  The idea of the broadcasts is to provide a stage for top Israeli musicians. Mezzo dedicated the month of October 2012 to young Israeli artists; the concerts will be viewed in 44 countries. The Mezzo TV channel, established in 1992, is a music channel presenting classical music, opera, jazz and world music.

We heard pianist Yaron Herman, joined by trumpeter Avishai Cohen and percussionist Ziv Ravitz. At age 16, Yaron Herman (b.1981) began studying piano with Opher Brayer, two years later being awarded the young talents prize at the Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music. After appearing on concert platforms in Israel, he moved to Paris, recording his first CD there “Takes 2 to Know 1” together with Sylvain Ghio. Herman has developed a theory of musical improvisation – “Real Time Composition” – on which he lectured at the Sorbonne University. His first solo album “Variations” was issued in 2005, with solo performances following in Europe, the USA and in China, where he was the first jazz pianist to perform in the Forbidden City in Beijing.

Born in Tel Aviv in 1978, trumpeter and band leader Avishai Cohen started to play the trumpet at age eight, was playing with the Rimon Big Band at age 10 and touring with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in his teen years. After studies at the Berklee College of Music (Boston), he moved to New York. Cohen has many CDs to his name, some recorded with saxophonist brother Yuval and clarinetist-saxophonist sister Anat.

Born to a musical family in Beer Sheba, Ziv Ravitz began focusing on playing drums at age 9, performing professionally by the time he was 13, acquiring experience in jazz, rock- and avant-garde music. In 2000, he moved to the USA to expand his experience as a composer and performing artist. Since graduating from the Berklee School of Music in 2004, Ravitz has performed and recorded in the USA and Europe. Ziv Ravitz presently resides in New York.

The concert consisted mostly of improvisations, some pieces based on ideas or melodies – such as “Summer Time”. It was an evening of sophisticated, elegant sounds, of fine poetic solos, of intense- and soothing mood pieces, of much articulate non-verbal communication between the three artists, of jazz as a noble and cultured form of expression. The audience was right there with the players - focused and involved in the musical course of each piece - and, happily, not subjected to the horrors of over-amplification. It was an evening of pure aesthetic pleasure at the hands of three of the most outstanding members of the Israeli Jazz movement.

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