The latest installment of the winter edition of the Red Sea Jazz Festival presented music patrons with the usual wide-ranging mix of genres and styles. Artistic director Dubi Lenz is an avowed world music buff and there was plenty in the way of ethnic and ethnic-leaning entertainment on offer over the three days.
Harmonica player Gabriel Grossi’s spot with Israeli fellow Brazilian-born artists guitarist Marcelo Nami and veteran percussionist Joca Perpignan was one of the most popular shows of the whole program, with the rafter-packing audience responding wildly to the players’ virtuoso performance as they ran through a slew of Latin numbers of various strains.
Paris-based Israeli pianist Yaron Herman’s gig, which also took place at the generously proportioned Isrotel Theater auditorium, elicited similar voluminous feedback, as he ran through his repertoire of trademark punctiliously crafted material. The simpatico spirit with his longtime émigré Israeli sideman, bassist Haggai Cohen-Milo and effervescent drummer Ziv Ravitz was in evidence throughout, as the spectators eagerly lapped it all up.
Drummer Yogev Shitrit also worked with a traditional piano-bass-drums triad format, playing numbers from his debut album as leader, New Path. All three players exuded a heaping helpful of infectious joie de vivre, with 21-year-old pianist Stav Goldberg in particular unfurling an expansive range of solo spots and comping contributions, as Shitrit wended his own way along stylistic corridors. Bassist Ayal Tsubery provided commensurate support throughout, and also shone in his own brief venture into the spotlight. I would suggest that Goldberg is one to watch.
Pure entertainment was in evidence across the three-dayer, with the trio gig of Swiss singer Andreas Schaerer and Austrians guitarist Peter Rom and trumpeter Martin Eberle keeping their audience riveted and suitably engaged. It was largely Schaerer’s show, with the Swiss vocalist extraordinaire running through an impressive range of genres, from beatbox to ballad-based pop, with scatting and straight-ahead jazz among the other polished turns he produced from his ample artistic sleeve.
And there was plenty in the way of silky musicianship at the VEIN Austrian trio’s show, as drummer Florian Arbenz, twin brother pianist Michael Arbenz and bassist Thomas Lähns worked their way through a bunch of numbers from their latest release, VEIN Plays Ravel. The threesome ran through all manner of styles and intent on, for example, the pianist’s “Under Construction,” which opened as a burner and dipped into bluesy and funky territory. Drummer Florian demonstrated his capacity for eclectic avenues of expression while Lähns kept the three-piece ship on course throughout.
Over the years VEIN has collaborated with a bunch of top-notch saxophonists, with Israeli reedman Amit Freedman filling the horn slot in Eilat. Freedman, who generally leads his own sextet, proved adept at accommodating the Swiss bunch’s wide-ranging oeuvre, and added plenty of color, and not a little in the way of sunny disposition, to the proceedings.