The language of unity

Israeli swing
Last Updated : 22 February 2016, 18:38 IST

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Upfront, the Israeli boys of the jazz band ‘Katamon Cherry’ are a reserved lot but once one hears their piercing tunes, which have traversed far and wide, they realise that they are a matchless league of their own.

Clear in rhythm and artfully arranged in all its specificities and dimensions, the band’s music dances out of their soul, reminding one of happy images.

The four suave musicians — Elad Gellert the saxophonist, Adam Weingrod the guitarist, David Michaeli the bassist and Haim Peskoff the drummer — unanimously agree that jazz never went out of fashion at any point.

Like an organism, jazz always changed, shifted and grew. And though primarily a jazz band, the four are equally influenced by regional flavours as they breathe a blend of Oriental melodies, Arabic tunes and German harmonies, everyday in Jerusalem.

The quartet is tired after a hectic concert in Chennai but gurgle like a stream when they settle down to talk about their band before their performance at BFlat.

Here for the fifth annual edition of the ‘Global Isai Festival 2016’ and supported by the Consulate General of the State of Israel and Exodus, they all have been munching on South Indian ‘thalis’ in between their performances.

An all-instrumental troupe, the four have studied jazz and came together to form ‘Katamon Cherry’ a few years back. Adam adds, “Somehow, you always know the jazz musicians in Israel. There is a growing jazz scene, especially in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, but it’s still niche as compared to mainstream rock and pop. Jazz music is more prominent in the independent circuit back home.”

David has always found the audience outside Israel better and Adam was happy to see a larger audience for jazz here as compared to his first tour to Bengaluru last year.
The reaction to their music was quite heart-warming for them as well.

He recalls that their setup surprised and shocked a major chunk of the Indian audience as the band is devoid of vocalists.

He adds, “People would set up microphones for our gig but we didn’t use any of them. It was something new to the audience here because
maybe there is a vocalist in every Indian concert.

However, that surprised me as there are so many instrumentalists in Indian classical concerts too and I found it weird that they were shocked.”
Back in Israel, ‘Katamon Cherry’s’ shows always depend on the venue, showbiz and political situations as “Israel is a tricky place.”

Adam says, “The political situation in Israel makes less people come to gigs sometimes and that’s sad. We just try not to get caught up with it and move on. In many ways, we are our own audience.” So for the quartet, music has always been a form of escapism and a medium to exercise their suspension of disbelief, having grown up in a place of troubled waters.

However, it is these troubled times that influence their music subconsciously.
 Elad says, “We consider music as a universal language that binds people together and try to  keep our music very pure. Everyday when we walk around and there is tension in the atmosphere, everyone resorts to an art form. It’s music for us.”  

Published 22 February 2016, 16:44 IST

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