May 06, 2014 - Israeli Musicians Conclude Tulsa Trip with Free Jazz Depot Concert


            In addition to providing a regular venue for local and regional jazz and blues artists, Tulsa's Jazz Depot has regularly hosted touring performers from outside the area. Few, however, have come as far to play as the quartet of musicians set to take the Depot stage Wednesday evening. All four hail from the Sovev Kinneret region of Israel, an area of about 400 square miles that includes Tiberias, Tulsa's sister city, and they're in town thanks to the Jewish Federation of Tulsa. That organization is co-sponsoring the free concert with the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame.

            “We've had musicians coming over for the past several years,” says the Jewish Federation's Shiri West. “They're hand-picked to come over here, and they practice together a few weeks before they come over. They were brought together for this mission, but they usually continue together after it's over.”

            This particular group, she adds, was selected from a larger number of musicians who were encouraged to apply for the tour.

            “It was advertised about eight months ago, and there were some auditions to make sure they were very good,” she says. “There were a few people in that region, our twin region, who'd come [to Tulsa] before, and a few music professionals there who interviewed them and jammed with them.

            “Israel is a very small place, and things happen very spontaneously. Somebody hears someone jamming somewhere, and they say, okay, let's jam together. So when the [Tulsa-Tiberias] partnership advertised in the region, people were contacted – about thirty, I think, or more – and they took four musicians. The partnership wanted to make sure that they could work together, and they do. They make amazing music together.”

            This year, she adds, “We have Rami, a saxophone player. He lives up north in a kibbutz community, and he's got gigs in all kinds of jazz halls. Eyal is our vocalist, a professional singer who sings in many, many places and events in Israel. Yotam plays keyboard and bass. And then we have Yakir, who is the percussionist. Yakir and Yotam have other businesses, but they play in bands on a regular basis.”

            Saxophonist Rami Alster, who leads a band in Israel with his trombonist brother, Shlomy, says that the music they'll present at the Jazz Depot will include “a few pieces with a kind of Mediterranean flavor,” as well as “a few ethno-jazz pieces that suit us well.”

            They will be joined for the concert by Tulsans Tim Shadley on the piano and Jordan Hehl on bass.

            The Israeli players have been in Tulsa since Thursday, May 1. During that time, they've participated in a number of events, including the local celebration of Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel's Independence Day, observed this year on May 6.

            “Wednesday is going to be a goodbye concert, the closer, a festive occasional to thank the musicians for coming from Israel,” says West.

            “It’s wonderful to see musicians working together,” said Jason McIntosh, Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame CEO. “Thanks to our friends at the Jewish Federation of Tulsa, we’re working with our brothers from Tiberias, Israel and creating unity through music.”

            The Sister City Jazz Program  is set to begin at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 7, at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First Street. Admission is free and open to the public.

            The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and educational organization, with a mission to inspire creativity and improve the quality of life for all Oklahomans through the preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.