Sunday, September 12, 2004

Red Sea Jazz Festival 2004 - Continued....

 Originally posted on:

Because of a comment on my blog, I decided to write a bit more on the Jazz festival I went to. I thought this would be a geek centric blog, but I find, that I don't have that much geekiness to blog about :) which I believe in a way is good!

So to the tale of the festival.

The Red Sea Jazz festival is an Israeli tradition going back 18 years now, it began small as all thing begin, and has grown over the years, to be a true international festival, although, naturally most visitors are Israeli.

It is divided nearly to two between Israeli and International artists, over the years it has come to also host some third world music, which some feel (including myself) that is not a good direction - even though the shows are good - still it is a bit confusing for the average listener to be switched between so many styles, in such a short time.

The festival this year, and also in previous year, like Israel, is very fast going. on the course of 4 days (nights actually) you get to see about 20 concerts (there are 2 playing simultaneously, so actually there are 40 concerts of which most are played twice). You get about 15 minutes between the different concerts which makes you run fast, if you don't want to miss - or if you want a better seat. This causes an epidemic of leaving concerts early (so people get out in the middle of a concert to get a better seat in the next one).

Over the past few years the amount of people coming in, has risen immensely, by thousands. it is amazing to see so many people being so calm and enjoying themselves - so in contrast to the usual way of behavior in our country. as Josh commented - people actually stand in line....

I have to say I too appreciate the organization, the efficiency with which the security measures are applied - a necessary thing in our time :( and even the customer oriented view of the people who do the selling (also very un-Israeli). I had the pleasure of having some administrative problem to do with money, and issue was so nicely solved that I am still in shock.

The festival itself, this year had a few big names, which as usually came out the worst as performance (this always happens here, and usually you can't really blame anyone). This years fiasco was John Scofield (guitar) and Charlie Hayden (bass). which are recognized around the world as masters. These two giants, came to give a Duo concert, and tell me, what can be more exciting to a Jazz enthusiast?

The concert had several problems:
1. The variety of shows - you can't switch fast enough between a display of fast, energetic band playing Latin Jazz (Obi-Oba) a very nice and fun concert, where you want to dance, to these two masters who put on such a deep and slow show - which as a show by itself would probably be a great thing to hear, And right back to the Hagay Merhavia quartet (again fast brazilian tempo). The short interval between the shows and the huge differences in style. This is very hard to overcome for the listener - obviously they come out un-satisfied.

2. The sound problems especially in their second performance, they had the pleasure of hearing the sound of the other show while playing. this wasn't easy not for the listeners and of course the artists, who complained.

Other than this it was a really great festival, lots of energies and fun, if you decide to come next year, be sure to come also to the Jam sessions held in the hotel pool - what goes on there is just amazing - the combinations and results of professional artists coming together on a completely unplanned way on the stage - is what I believe is what Jazz is all about...

A band to look for in your city, if you're looking for a great show - The Bad Plus! should be playing in New York City the end of this month ( - They define themselves as a band or a power piano trio (of which I believe BAND is a better definition). You can't call them Jazz - in fact you can't really call them anything. Just great music! if it is their own compositions, or their *covers* for compositions by others (Smells Like Teen Spirit, Iron man - by Black Sabbath, Gloria - pixies, or even Ornette Coleman). I saw their show twice - there was a person nice enough to give me two tickets for free!!!!!!!! he said he had nothing to do with them (he had 4 tickets, and the two other people coming couldn't make it...).

There were many other great shows (Russel Gun, Eric Troufaz, Avi Leibouvits Orchestra, Percadu - amazing!!!, Isra-Dixie Band), and some bad ones (Sindy Blackman - which I didn't enjoy at all, a lot of hype over nothing really). But this post has grown way to long........ So I'll say goodbye for now.

Just for the finish, I met many nice people at the festival, one of the things that was the biggest shock to one of the people from the USA I met, was the amount of teenagers that came to hear the concerts. He told me that in the US, Jazz is considered "old people" music, In Israel many young people are very much into Jazz (of course some older people as well, but the young are the big crowd). This strikes me as peculiar. I am quite young (27), and I see Jazz as THE music to listen to. I enjoy good music from any genre, but I am most moved by Jazz.

Another nice point in the festival is their co-operation with a CD store that operates in Eilat, that during festival time, there is a huge discount on Jazz CD's (and a very big selection). I came back with 30 CD's. (I'm crazy I know, but I just can't ignore the prices)

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