As the seasons finally begin to switch, and we realize we have survived yet another summer here, our thoughts start to turn to what lies ahead, weather-wise. We might conjure up images of roaring log fires, roasted chestnuts or headily aromatic hamin (cholent) cooking slowly in the oven, or possibly battling the driving rain and winds as we make our way to work or home, or to pick up the kids.
If it is more in the latter vein, we may then be drawn into fantasizing about a winter break in the deliciously soft sun of Eilat. Then why not up the pleasure ante by scheduling the trip down south for mid-February – February 14-16 to be precise – when the ninth edition of the winter version of the Red Sea Jazz Festival takes place?
Despite its title, the programs devised by perennial artistic director Dubi Lenz over the years have featured a range of genres and styles, and the 2019 festival is no different.
The three-day shebang kicks off in high energy and joyous style, with 35-year-old Cuban pianist Harold López-Nussa. Despite his relative youth, López-Nussa has paid his musical dues, performing at the Montreux Jazz Festival and touring with now 88-year-old compatriot vocalist Omara Portuondo of the Buena Vista Social Club fame. Lenz has a weakness for Latin-seasoned music and López-Nussa should set a robust marker for the rest of the artists in the lineup.
There’s more in the way of Latin talent in the form of Brazilian bass guitarist Michael Pipoquinha. The 22-year-old instrumentalist, who plays the rarely used six-string variety, first burst onto the global scene at the age of 13, and has been wowing audiences all over the world ever since.
The jazz-oriented spread stretches appreciably with the inclusion of Polish pianist Marcin Masecki, who has been there and done that over the last decade and a half, plying his talents through straightahead jazz, avant pop and ragtime, to mention but a few of the genres he has incorporated in his offerings to date. Masecki will come here with a seven piece band.
And music lovers looking for something even edgier should be more than happy to see the name Markus Stockhausen on the Red Sea Jazz Festival bill. The 61-year-old German trumpeter and electronics manipulator has been putting out envelope-pushing sounds for over four decades, dipping into chamber music, electronic soundscapes and avant garde jazz. Stockhausen, the son of one of the 20th century’s most important classical music composers, will come here with his acclaimed Quadrivium quartet.
The Israeli side of the lineup includes internationally renowned pianist Shai Maestro, who earlier this year became the latest Israel artist to record on the prestigious German-based record label ECM. Meanwhile, seasoned saxophonist Daniel Zamir will join forces with gifted young guitarist Nitzan Barr, and the Shalosh trio makes a return to the Eilat event, together with pop singer Tal Ben Ari, aka Tula.
Elsewhere on the Red Sea Jazz roster, you can find venerated singer-songwriter Yoni Rechter and the intriguing pairing of vocalist Shai Tsabari and kamancha (spike violin) player Mark Elyahu heading a jazzy-tinted ethnopop septet, as well as indie folk band The Collective, a quartet fronted by cellist-singer Maya Belzitsman and drummer Mattan Efrat proffering their singular reading of jazz standards, and feted vocalist Ester Rada teaming up with pianist Tomer Barr.
Looks like there’ll be plenty of something for everyone down in Eilat this winter.
For tickets and more information: http://redseajazz.co.il, *9066, and http://www.eventim.co.il/
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