Pinhas and irrepressible sons to show off at Red Sea Jazz Fest

One of the most virulent criticisms of bebop, in the advent of modern jazz in the 1940s, was that it was too cerebral. Where, oh, where, the jazz cops of the time complained, it was the fun factor, the joie de vivre of the definitely danceable Swing style that preceded that revolutionary development in the jazz world spearheaded by artists like Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie. and Bud. Powell?

Had they stayed a further seventy years, those reactionaries of yore may have been delighted to note that the next Red Sea Jazz Festival (November 11-13) features a charming group called Pinhas Uvanav (Pinhas and Sons). . The festival’s marketing folks dubbed the company “an irrepressible colorful cult.” Only time will tell if the last epithet is on the nail, but the rest certainly applies.

The ensemble, which generally comprises a total of 10 instrumentalists and a vocalist, is led by keyboardist Ofer Pinhas, hence the band’s nickname.

“He actually has a humorous sense,” says the leader of the band. “I hope people understand that,” he laughs.

What people can’t help but get is the simple and unbridled joy of Pinhas and the rest of the gang when they take the stage. They always go all out, with fun, animated numbers like there’s no tomorrow, and having a great time while they’re at it.

Eilat. (credit: RONY BALAHSAN)

Festival blurb also describes the group as something akin to the musical love boy you’d get if you crossed Shem Tov Levy with Shlomo Gronich. The Gronich factor comes out loud and clear, for example, in a joyous song called “Ken Zeh Chasar Sikui” (“Yes, It’s Hopeless”), which is a clear reference to Gronich’s basic wacko “Yesh Lee Simpatya”. In fact, the band got to perform the hit with Gronich, live, a couple of years ago.

Pinhas began his musical path in the classical domain, like Gronich, and even attended the latter’s alma mater, the Tel Aviv University School of Music. Then again, there’s a jazzy flavor to his tickling ivory backdrop, though he doesn’t quite identify with that side of the genre tracks.

“I feel strongly connected to the spirit of jazz, but I have never called myself a jazz musician,” he says. “I never studied Charlie Parker’s solos. I learned the skills of jazz performance, but I never got deeply involved. “

As far as Pinhas is concerned, everything is just “music”. It does not draw clear lines of demarcation between genres and styles.

“It is all the same. I started with classical music and now I do something else. But in reality everything is the same. “

That, the cognoscenti would say, is the mark of a true artist. Industry executives like to pigeonhole this or that type of music, so that they can direct it towards certain consumer sectors and, naturally, generate more income for themselves. But any self-respecting artist, particularly in the music community, simply talks about “music” in generic terms of, say, rock or pop or classical jazz. To create you need an open mind and be as free from prejudice as possible. Pinhas’s comment echoes something the late iconic jazz drummer Max Roach once told me, simply “music is music.” That may sound simplistic, but that’s the essence of sonic creativity.

That said, we who write and consume music need to have an idea of ​​what we can get when we consider buying a ticket to a show or shelling out money on an album. So for convenience, we will place the Pinhas Uvanav offerings in the funk spiced pop area.

The closest thing to 34-year-old Pinhas of categorizing the beginnings of the band’s stylistic orientation is saying that he always followed a songwriting mentality.

“When I was in the military I tried to keep my musical job and I worked with a guitarist [Barak Srour] – who is still in the band – and flute player. I wrote songs, I guess you could say they were very much in vogue at Yoni Rechter, ”he says, referring to the acclaimed 69-year-old singer-songwriter who first became known with the seminal pop-rock group Kaveret in the early ’70s. As role models, Rechter, who is revered across the board, including by many jazz artists, is not a bad choice. It also stars in the opening of the Red Sea Jazz Festival.

Pinhas evolved.

“That influence is still there, but you could say that today world music and the groove element are much more front and center. Then there was more, I suppose, world music, but it was always based on a song format. ”

That remains a mainstay of the band’s production, particularly with powerful vocalist Noa Karadavid in the mix. It makes its presence felt in an impressively simple way. He clearly has the range, intensity, and decibel capability to wow the audience immediately, but he seems to be there for the group, and not to show off.

Pinhas’ classical leanings are manifested in the inclusion of a violinist, viola, and occasionally a cellist, with flutist Barak Sober adding plenty of sonic overtones. The aforementioned live synergy with Gronich begins with a keyboard riff reminiscent of Bach. Those roots also informed the evolution of Pinhas and Sons.

“People gradually joined the band and my thinking has always been oriented towards orchestration. It’s about things that react to other things. There is a counterpoint and it is calculated. “

Still, getting serious and really pushing his musical ship was a long way off for Pinhas. The twenty-something musician had yet to commit to his developing craft. Gronich provided the proverbial kick to the butt required.

“He had been doing a concert here or there and Gronich listened to them,” recalls Pinhas. “I was on a radio program and he said that if there is someone out there who knows me, they should tell me to stop playing and continue with the music,” laughs Pinhas. And the rest is an ongoing story, lighthearted, cohesive, polished, and wonderful laissez faire.

The band released a debut album a couple of years ago and the fledgling sophomore offering will provide the core of the Eilat show on November 12 (4:15 pm).

Elsewhere in a motley star-studded festival lineup are artists like iconic rocker Shalom Hanoch, star singer Ester Rada, acclaimed international pianist Anat Fort, talented pianist duo Tom Oren and guitarist Nitzan Barr, with the ever popular septuagenarian singer-songwriter Hava Alberstein. lowering the curtain on the festival on November 13.

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