Israeli Jazz Musicians Make Mark

On Foreign Turf, New Generation Reshapes American Genre

New Swingers: Israeli jazz players jam at Smalls in New York’s Greenwich Village.
dana morgan
New Swingers: Israeli jazz players jam at Smalls in New York’s Greenwich Village.

By Phillip Lutz

Published August 27, 2012, issue of August 31, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

According to Avital, Remez is one of the “very few serious ones who have the whole package, yet keep on growing and learning.” In the past two years, Remez has led groups at spots like the club Twins Jazz, in Washington, and Philadelphia’s Chris’ Jazz Café, as well as Smalls and, in an early evening set, New York’s Blue Note Jazz Club.

This past May, Remez co-led a group with Avital at the Atlanta Jazz Festival. The group, which featured a cadre of like-minded players who would soon form the nucleus of the Band of the East, was received enthusiastically. A different Remez-led group appeared in June at the Palatia Jazz Festival, a two-month affair staged amid the fresh air and fertile soil of Germany’s wine country. That ensemble — saxophonist Uri Gurvich, pianist Shai Maestro, bassist Haggai Cohen-Milo and drummer Ziv Ravitz — was part of a bill also featuring combos led by two other young Israelis bidding for jazz stardom: pianist Omer Klein and guitarist Gilad Hekselman.

Back in the less pristine provinces of New York, the musicians from Remez’s Germany band have turned up in Brooklyn at the Shapeshifter Lab and the Douglass Street Music Collective, where the intimate rooms have become gathering spots for young Israeli expatriates keen on testing their ideas. The collective’s casual performance space — with its low-rise stage, folding chairs and discerning audiences — has given rise to some heated experimentation resulting in all manner of cultural synthesis.

Remez, for example, has fashioned an aesthetic that, by his own account, combines a fealty to Israeli tradition with an affinity for indie rock, especially as practiced by bands like Radiohead. This blend finds expression in a series of originals on “So Far,” his latest release on Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records.

While most of the album’s tunes do not have explicitly Jewish themes, at least two explore such themes directly: “Lecha Dodi,” a treatment of Ashkenazi and Sephardic melodies decoupled from their Sabbath liturgy, and “The Last Exile,” a sonic picture Remez likens to Jews on a bench positing a postwar future in which they are secure in their own land. The pieces use Remez’s spare guitar to haunting effect.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.