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Jazz in Israel – Outline
Jimmy Yin

The main purpose of this presentation is to provide a broad overview of Israel’s burgeoning jazz scene, as well as the institutions that have contributed to their success.

My hope is that at my presentation gets people excited about Israeli jazz (or jazz in general)! The global nature of the genre makes it particularly relevant to the themes we discuss in this class, and Israeli artists make use of many of the musical motifs which we have encountered thus far.

The outline below covers the people and main topics that I’ll be covering in my presentation. Attached at the end are the recordings and resources that I referenced and used in the course of research for my paper.

I. Introduction

II. Beginnings

– Zvi Keren

– Arnie Lawrence

III. Today’s Scene

– Avishai Cohen, bassist

  • Recording: Madrid

– Gilad Atzmon

– Eli Degibri

  • Recording: Israeli Song

– Gadi Lehavi

  • Recording: Gadi Lehavi Quartet with Eli Degibri

IV. Festivals and Institutions

– Red Sea Jazz Festival

– Educational institutions

  • Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music

– Recording companies

– The role of the West

Links to recordings:

Avishai Cohen Band – Madrid (requires Spotify)

Eli Degibri – Israeli Song

Gadi Lehavi Quartet with Eli Degibri

References/further reading:

Davis, Francis. “Music: Chiri Biri Bim, Chiri Biri Bop – the Israel-New York Pipeline

Yields a Fresh Crop of Serious Jazz Talent.” The Village Voice May 2007: 119. ProQuest. Web. 12 Nov. 2013 .

Goldsby, John. “GLOBAL PLAYER: AVISHAI COHEN.” Bass Player 07 2010: 26, 30, 32, 34. ProQuest. Web. 12 Nov. 2013 .

Greenberg, H. (1996, Sep 13). Hitting high sea: At the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Eilat, poolside jams start after midnight and the rhythms roll until dawn. Baltimore Jewish Times, 231, 60.

Keren-Sagee, Alona. “Joseph Schillinger – A Disciple’s Reminiscences of the Man and  His Theories: An Interview with Prof. Zvi Keren.” Tempo – A Quarterly Review of Modern Music 64 (2010): 17-26. ProQuest. Web. 12 Nov. 2013.

Keren-Sagee, Alona. “Zvi Keren: His Contribution to Israel’s Music Scene.” Min-ad: Israel Studies in Musicology Online 2 (2002)ProQuest. Web. 12 Nov. 2013.

Lehavi, Avner. “Gadi Lehavi: Jazz Pianist” Lehavi, Avner. 2013. Web. 12 Nov. 2013. <;.

Ratliff, Ben. “Watching Musicians Evolve Onstage.” New York Times. May 20 2013. ProQuest. Web. 12 Nov. 2013.

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This year on Independence Day – the annual day of celebration that follows yom hazikharon, a remembrance day for those fallen in Israel’s many wars and conflicts, which we have studied in musical terms in the course of the semester – the State of Israel turns 64.


We are marking this day by taking a look at the significance of music in Israel beyond its (often contested) geographical borders, and we tune into its Jazz scene, a scene that has now been marketed for some time well beyond Israel itself. We discussed this several weeks ago with our “Skype guest,” Yoram Morad.

We are pleased to welcome to class guitarist Gilad Hekselman. Gilad is in the Bay Area for the Israeli JazzFest , which is taking place this week as part of SFJAZZ.

Gilad Hekselman is a remarkable young guitarist who has recorded and performed with a host of established jazz veterans including Chris Potter, John Scofield, Gretchen Parlato, Aaron Parks, Sam Yahel and Jeff “Tain” Watts. He won the 2005 Gibson Montreaux International Guitar Competition and has issued three outstanding recordings, including 2011’s Hearts Wide Open, which was selected by The New York Times as one of the best jazz releases of the year.

Here is Gilad at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in 2006.


A great website documenting the life – and the sound, and the thriving music scene – of Machaneh Yehudah, aka “the shuk,” a large outdoor marketplace in West Jerusalem, recently became available in English.

Here’s a link to its video page, which features some very interesting examples of how this thriving Jerusalem site (which was also the target of several suicide bombings between 1997 and 2002) serves not only as a resource for stocking up on (yummy) groceries, but as an aggregator of primarily Middle Eastern soundscapes:


And, of course, here’s the related Facebook page.

Incidentally, I learned from Wikipedia that the neighborhood in which the market is located was named after Yehudah Navon by his brother, Yosef Navon (1858-1934), an entrepreneur in Ottoman Jerusalem who co-founded the neighborhood itself in the 1880’s, and whose photographic portrait is currently on display at The Magnes. Students walk by it (and by Mr. Navon’s sword…) each time the come to class:

Photograph [93.29]: Portrait of Yosef Navon (Jerusalem, c. 1932)

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