The Israeli Jazz Showcase

While jazz is almost certainly not the first thing to come to mind when one thinks about Israel, the country has produced some of the most exciting emerging and established artists on the international jazz scene: bassists Avishai Cohen and Omer Avital; Cohen siblings Anat (clarinet and sax), Avishai (trumpet) and Yuval (sax); flautist Hadar Noiberg; pianists Shai Maestro and Omer Klein; guitarist Gilad Hekselman; and many more.

Next Wednesday, March 18 at The Rex Hotel, as part of the wider Spotlight on Israeli Culture, Israeli jazz talent from Toronto and abroad will be on display at the second annual Israeli Jazz Showcase. Toronto Downtown Jazz is pleased to be a presenting partner of the Showcase, along with the Consulate General of Israel and the Canada-Israel Cultural Foundation.

Kicking off the evening's proceedings is Toronto-based bassist Kobi Hass and his quartet of Ernie Tollar, saxes, Barry Livingston, piano and Paul Fitterer, drums. Kobi is a musical chameleon of sorts, equally comfortable on bass and guitar, and in a variety of musical styles - from traditional Israeli melodies to pop, folk to jazz and musical theatre; he even has a Master's Degree in choral conducting! The other musicians in the quartet are all at home playing jazz and world music, so his set is bound to be a interesting mix of music.

Next up is a trio led by New York-based pianist Guy Mintus. Guy's music is representative of the various influences surrounding him as he grew up in Israel: traditional folk songs along with music from Turkey, Greece, Africa, India and more. Even the teachers he's chosen since his arrival in New York indicate diverse musical interests: Johnny O'Neal, Vijay Iyer, Arturo O'Farrill and Samir Chatterjee. Joined by Israeli bassist Tamir Shmerling and Dutch drummer Philippe Lemme, Guy Mintus will surely take us on a musical adventure.

The evening's headliner, in her first Toronto appearance as a leader, is the outstanding Anat Cohen. I've seen Anat a couple of times; she moves easily from clarinet to saxophone, maintaing a big sound and creative lines on each. As with the other musicians on the bill, her influences vary widely - she's just as likely to be performing Brazilian choro as she is to be playing jazz. But it will be her jazz quartet - with Aaron Goldberg on piano, Vicente Archer on bass and Daniel Freedman on drums - who will be playing next Wednesday. If my experiences seeing Anat in action are any indication, we're in for a treat.

The Israeli Jazz Showcase starts at 6:30 pm next Wednesday, March 18 at The Rex Hotel. Admission is $20 at the door. Complete event information is available here.

I look forward to seeing you there!


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