Anat Fort’s Story

From a blog article published by Yotam Ziv on the Israeli newspaper Haaretz website March 28, 2019. (The article was translated and edited) Disclosure: I am a big fan of Anat Fort! See links to other Israeli jazz artists at the bottom of this post.

Anat Fort and her ensemble
Anat Fort and her band

After 20 years of relentless and uncompromised persistence, Anat Fort became the first Israeli to be signed on the prestigious ECM jazz label. Her story is a story of great passion and Israeli daring . In an interview on the occasion of the release of a new album, she talks about being a female jazz artist in an almost-exclusively male field. “There’s something very cool about feminine energy that is sometimes lacking”, she said, “something that inspires young musicians,”

“We have about 10 percent of female students at our Stricker Conservatory, about the same as when I was a student there.

Women are ready and want to enter the field just like men do, if it were not for the discriminatory ‘bullshit’ that they have to endure.

What do you mean?

“Our trio played a double performance for a German radio station, together with another all-male band. We all sat in the bar where I was the only woman, as usual. One of the men from the other band sat next to me. He saw us play beforehand and knew that I was the band leader on my side. ‘What cool pantyhoses’, he asked me, ‘where did you buy them? Maybe I’ll buy the same for my group.’

“It’s like some of the BS in jazz that demeans women”, Fort said, “it’s like testosterone that rules the world, the solos have a lot of show-off, which is an essentially masculine trait, and I’m less connected to that, and there is a lot of gender talk among musicians, even I am culpable of that! It’s a fact that there are almost no successful instrumental women in this field”.

But hopefully, that may be changing for the better as more successful models are emerging. ”

Fort, 49, began playing at the age of five and asked to join a military band while serving in the Israeli Army. “Towards the end of high school, I realized that my classical music studies were going downhill, and I looked for other musical avenues.” I applied for the Army bands. When I entered audition room, Yoni Rechter, one of the judges, asked me if I knew how to play chords… John Coltrane, I was in shock, I never heard such music before!”

After release from the Army, Fort traveled to the United States to try to get into a jazz school that had never accepted foreign students before. She was not deterred. She asked for an audition, persevered and was eventually accepted. That is when she started to learn what it feels like to be a woman in a man’s world. “My first job after school was to accompany actors at the Lee Strasberg school,” she recalls. “Because of my versatility as a pianist – classical, jazz, cabaret and musicals – I was able to survive in New York, meet people in my field and play jazz, sometimes two or three gigs each night. I swallowed all the jazz that New York had to offer.

The opportunity for Fort to play her own compositions came when she met singer-composer Vered Dekel. “My relationship with her inspired me, and Vered wrote a lot of original music which was very significant to me, In 1999, I recorded my first album, alone, independently, real indie, which was also arund the time when when musicians started to record without the backing of a record label .”

Paul Motian – A class about my music at his house

The album was passport to exposure and performances of sorts. But a significant leap came after a musical encounter with Paul Motian, one of the greatest jazz drummers and a former member of the Bill Evans’ partner trio, one of the best jazz bands of all time. “I went to hear him wherever he played and eventually I found myself playing with bassist Ed Schuler who knew him. I approached Ed with my typical Israeli hutzpah and asked him what I needed to do to play with Paul Motian. Paul agreed to hear my music. He said he really liked it and might record my stuff. I almost fainted with my jaw wide open! A class about my music at Paul Motian’s place?! “

Motian did not record Anat’s music in the end, but refered her to Manfred Eicher, manager of the ECM jazz label. “Even then it took another three years for the ECM album to come out, which is one of the reasons why it was called” Long Story, “says Fort,” Eicher did not accept material that he was not involved in. I felt responsible for being the first Israeli to be signed on this special label. This gave me tremendous exposure to new markets, and it opened up the Whole World to me where people started to buy my albums, it was a breakthrough in every way. “

About 10 years later, Anat went back to Israel, and it seems that her return has only done her good. She continues to teach, record and perform non-stop. Her compositions have been celebrated for 20 years now. Although members of her trio its have split geographically, Fort in Israel, drummer Ronald Schneid to Germany and bassist Gary Wang in New York where he remained. This makes producing music a bit more complicated, but here (in Israel), a new album – Color – is about to come out and a tour around the country is about to start…

More fun stuff about Anat Fort

Listen to NPR’s Anat Fort’s ‘Long Story’ from New York

Listen to NPR’s Why Are So Many Jazz Musicians From Israel These Days?

Listen to NPR’s Anat Fort On Piano Jazz on
MARIAN MCPARTLAND’S PIANO JAZZ

Read my blog post about 33 great Israeli Jazz Artists

Please like my post if you enjoyed it ūüôā

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A haunting rendition of Lu Yehi by Yaron Herman and his trio

Israel is fertile ground for jazz.  I have covered some of the Israeli jazz scene in a previous post.

Yaron Herman

Yaron Herman is¬†◊ô◊®◊ē◊ü ◊Ē◊®◊ě◊ü‚Äé is a French-Israeli¬†jazz¬†pianist now living in Paris. After a few years of piano study, he attended the Boston, MA Berklee College of Music at age 19. He then moved to Paris, France, where he began his recording career at age 21.¬† He is inspired by such jazz legends as Keith Jarrett,¬†Paul Bley,¬†Lennie Tristano¬†and¬†Brad Mehldau¬†– my favorites too!¬† ¬†His website can be found at¬†http://yaronherman.com/¬†

BBC’s Kevin LeGendre reviewed Herman’s Muse album, where Lu Yehi is featured, in 2009. “Melodically gifted as he is, Herman is no slouch as an improviser and a fleet, precise right hand unfurls a number of sparkling, at times¬†Chick Corea-like statements in which the Spanish-Arabic flourish is strong.”

Herman’s cover of Lu Yehi follows the song’s haunting melody but introduces a jazzy dissonance that evokes the hurt, chaos and uncertainty of war.

Lu Yehi

The famous Israeli song¬†LU YEHI – ◊ú◊ē÷ľ ◊ô÷į◊Ē÷ī◊ô¬† (May It Be) was written and composed by Naomi Shemer during the Yom Kippur War (1973).¬† Naomi also famously wrote¬†“Yerushalayim Shel Zahav” (“Jerusalem of Gold”) in 1967 after¬†Israel¬†won the¬†Six-Day War.¬† In¬†‚ÄúLu Yehi‚ÄĚ, Naomi Shemer hopes for a quick end to the war and for the safe return of IDF soldiers (“This is the end of the summer, the end of the road, let them come back.”)

[see other Israeli Jazz-related posts: Anat Fort and 33 Israeli Jazz Artists ]

Lyrics in Hebrew and English (from Hebrewsongs.com)

Od yesh mifras lavan ba’ofek
mul anan shachor kaved
Kol shenevakesh – Lu Yehi.

Ve’im bacholonot ha’erev
Or nerot hachag ro’ed –
Kol shenevakesh – Lu Yehi.

Lu Yehi, Lu Yehi, Ana, Lu Yehi
Kol shenevakesh – Lu Yehi.

Ma kol anot ani shomei’a
Kol shofar vekol tupim
Kol shenevakesh lu yehi

Lu tishama betoch kawl eileh
Gam tefila achat mipi
Kol shenevakesh lu yehi

Lu yehi…

Betoch sh’chuna ktana mutzelet
Bait kat im gag adom
Kol shenevakesh lu yehi

Zeh sof hakayitz, sof haderech
Ten lahem lashuv halom
Kol shenevakesh lu yehi

Lu yehi…

Ve’im pit’om yizrach mei’ofel
Al rosheinu or kochav
Kol shenevakesh lu yehi

Az ten shalva veten gam ko’ach
Lechol eileh shenohav
Koll shenevakesh – lu yehi

Lu yehi………

There is still a white sail on the horizon
Opposite a heavy black cloud
All that we ask for – may it be

And if in the evening windows
The light of the holiday candles flickers
All that we seek – may it be

May it be, may it be – Please – may it be
All that we seek – may it be.

What is the sound that I hear
The cry of the shofar and the sound of drums
All that we ask for – may it be

If only there can be heard within all this
One prayer from my lips also
All that we seek – may it be

May it be…

Within a small, shaded neighborhood
Is a small house with a red roof
All that we ask for, may it be

This is the end of summer, the end of the path
Allow them to return safely here
All that we seek, may it be

May it be…

And if suddenly, rising from the darkness
Over our heads, the light of a star shines
All that we ask for, may it be

Then grant tranquility and also grant strength
To all those we love
All that we seek, may it be

May it be…

33 Great Israeli Jazz Artists…

For a country of some 7.5 million, Israel has a surprisingly large jazz footprint. More and more internationally acclaimed jazz musicians happen to be from the country. [NPR] ¬†Twenty-five or so years ago, the Thelma Yellin High School of the Arts based in Giv’atayim, like many arts magnet schools, became known as a jazz incubator. The Rimon School for Jazz and Contemporary Music started up in 1985, and developed an affiliation with Berklee College of Music in Boston. ¬†Well known U.S. jazz musician Arnie moved to Israel in 1997, where he founded the International Center for Creative Music, an education facility open to both Jewish and Arab students.

A bit of research went into this post. ¬†Click on each artist’s name to play a YouTube sample featuring that artist. ¬†See full length clips in the comment section below. Feel free to add your own.¬†¬†Enjoy!

 Artist
(Click for music)
———————– Quick Bio
Omer Avital omer avital Omer Avital was born in 1971 in Givatayim to Moroccan and Yemeni parents.  After spending a year in the Israeli Army Orchestra, he moved to New York in 1992 where he began playing, recording and touring professionally.
Or Bareket Or Bareket Or Bareket grew up in Argentina and Israel, and now lives in Brooklyn, New York.¬†Or was the 1st Prize winner of the 2011 International Society of Bassists’ Jazz Competition.¬†He has worked with Ari Hoenig, Jean-Michel Pilc, The 3 Cohens, Don Friedman, Eliot Zigmund, Billy Hart, Victor Lewis, David Feldman and many others.
Roni Ben-Hur roni benhur Roni Ben-Hur is an Israeli jazz guitarist who emigrated to the United States in 1985. His parents were originally from Tunisia. His 2004 book, Talk Jazz: Guitar from the Mel Bay Talk Jazz series is now out of print and much sought after by jazz guitarists.
Dekel Bor dekel bor Dekel Bor started playing guitar at age 15 and moved to Copenhagen at the age of 19. At 21, Bor moved to New York to attend The New School on a full scholarship. Bor was seriously injured[1] in a motorcycle accident in August 2015. All of his scheduled performances and appearances were canceled or postponed at that time, at least until spring 2016.
Amir Bresler amir bresler Amir Bresler was born in Rishon-Letzion, Israel on November 8th, 1989. He started his musical education at the age of 13, spending three years with teacher Avi Zehavi and has since studied with Eitan Itzkovitch, and others. In 2010 Amir Joined the world renowned bass player, singer and composer Avishai Cohen, in concerts globally.
Anat Cohen anat cohen In 1996, Anat Cohen studied clarinet and saxophone at the Berklee College of Music. She has also recorded with her brothers Avishai Cohen (trumpeter) and Yuval Cohen (alto and soprano saxophonist). She was voted Clarinetist of the Year in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 by the Jazz Journalists Association
Avishai Cohen (Bassist) avishai cohen b One of the better known Israeli jazz artists, Avishai Cohen was born in 1970 in Kibbutz Kabri. He began playing the piano at 9 years old, but changed to the bass guitar at the age of 14. He eventually moved to New York, and in 1996, joined the Chick Corea sextet Origin. He currently performs with his own group, the Avishai Cohen Trio.
 Avishai Cohen (Trumpet) avishai cohen t Cohen was born in Tel Aviv, Israel. He grew up in a musical family with sister Anat and brother. At the age of eight, he asked his mother for trumpet lessons. As a Teenager Avishai Toured with The Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra.  Avishai went to the Berklee jazz school in Boston and now lives in New York.
Eli Degibri Eli Degibri Eli Degibri was born in 1978 in Yaffo.  Degibri first began playing the mandolin at age 7. In 1994, then 1997, Degibri was selected to receive a full scholarship to attend the Berklee College of Music and moved to the U.S.  On August 29, 2013, he released his sixth album, Twelve, featuring Gadi Lehavi, Ofri Nehemya, and Barak Mori.
Daniel Dor Daniel Dor Daniel was born 1986 in Tel-Aviv.¬†While Daniel‚Äôs first musical lessons were at the piano, he was fascinated with the drum-set from an early age and began taking private lessons at the age of 10.¬†Daniel‚Äôs work is featured on Avishai Cohen‚Äôs highly acclaimed new record ‚ÄúFrom Darkness.‚ÄĚ
Shauli Einav Shauli Einav Shauli was born in 1982 in the countryside of Israel and started playing the violin at the age of 4. At 13 he switched to the saxophone and started playing with many Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv based bands. Einav recently relocated to Paris after 7 fruitful years in the vibrant jazz scene of NYC.
Oran Etkin Oran Etkin At age 14, Etkin began his musical studies in Boston with the saxophone. He studied Arabic music in Jerusalem. His exposure to Malian music is also a significant influence, having played in Mali with Toumani Diabaté, Super Rail Band, and Habibe Koité.
Anat Fort Anat Fort Anat Fort was born in 1970 near Tel Aviv. She is an Israeli jazz, pianist and composer who has recorded several acclaimed albums and performed across Europe and the United States.  She moved to New York in 1996 to develop her skills in jazz improvisation under the guidance of pianist Paul Bley and study composition with Harold Seletsky. 
See the brand new March 2019 post on Anat’s Story
Aaron Goldberg Aaron Goldberg Aaron Goldberg was born in Boston. He began taking piano lessons at 7, and started playing jazz when he was 14. In November 2014, Goldberg released The Now, a 10-song album of his own compositions, jazz standards, and reworkings of Brazilian songs.
Gilad Hekselman Gilad Hekselman Gilad is the winner of the 2005 Gibson Montreux International Guitar Competition. He¬†has played all major jazz clubs in New York City including the Blue Note, The Jazz Standard, Dizzy’s Club and Smalls.
Tamir Hendelman Tamir Hendelman Tamir moved to the US at age 12 in 1984, winning Yamaha’s national keyboard competition 2 years later at age 14. Concerts in Japan and the Kennedy Center followed. ¬† In his own trio, he explores standards, Brazilian music, blues and his Israeli roots.
Nitai Hershkovits Nitai Hershkovits Born in Israel to a Morrocan mother and a Polish father, Nitai started playing the clarinet at age 12, only to discover his love for the piano at age 15.  Nitai has been collaborating with internationally acclaimed bassist and composer Avishai Cohen.
Yaron Herman Yaron Herman Yaron Herman was born in Tel Aviv. He moved to Boston, where he intended to attend the Berklee College of Music but rapidly preferred to start his career in Paris.
See my post on Herman’s cover of “Lu Yehi”¬†
Ori Kaplan Ori Kaplan Ori Kaplan is a jazz saxophonist and a music producer who moved from Israel to the United States in 1991.  In 2004 he formed Balkan Beat Box with Tamir Muskat. The band has been touring globally since and has released 4 albums thus far.
Assaf Kehati Assaf Kehati Jazz guitarist and composer Assaf Kehati arrived to the USA from Israel in 2007.  Mr. Kehati has performed at some of the world’s leading venues including the Blue Note; the DC Jazz Festival; MuzEnergo Jazz Festival, Tel Aviv Museum, Barranquilla Jazz Festival; and Toronto Jazz Festival.
Avi Lebovich Avi Lebovich
Avi Lebovich was born in Yahud, Israel and¬†began studying classical piano at age 9. When he reached 13, he switched to the trombone and attended the “Thelma Yellin School of Arts”. ¬†He moved¬†to New York in 1992, where he attended “New School University” and “Mannes College of Music”.
Shai Maestro Shai Maestro

Pianist Shai Maestro was born in Israel on February 5th 1987. He began playing classical piano at the age of 5. Maestro joined Avishai Cohen’s Trio together with drummer Mark Guiliana where he played for 5 years around the globe.  In 2011, Maestro left Cohen’s group to pursue his own career as a band leader.

2015  YouTube: Shai Maestro Trio w. Kurt Rosenwinkel & Avishai Cohen (trp) РTreelogy (Maestro)

Rafi Malkiel Rafi Malkiel Born in Jerusalem in 1972, Malkiel currently resides in New¬†York where he has established himself as a mainstay on that city‚Äôs jazz and Latin music. ¬†Malkiel‚Äôs critically acclaimed debut album ‚ÄúMy Island‚ÄĚ features original compositions and his arrangements of popular Latin and jazz classics.
Dan Mayo Dan Mayo Dan Mayo was born in Israel in 1990. He is a drummer, composer and educator well known for his playing and composing with TATRAN, a power-trio with Tamuz Dekel on guitar and Offir Benjaminov on the bass.
Omri Mor Omri Mor Omri Mor was born in 1983 and raised in Jerusalem. He studied classical music at the Jerusalem Rubin Academy of Music. He studied¬†Andalousian-style music with¬†Nino ‚ÄúElmaghribi‚ÄĚ Biton. ¬†He plays regularly in jazz festivals in Israel and abroad.
Ziv Ravitz Ziv Ravitz Ziv Ravitz was born in Beersheba and focused on percussion at the ripe old age of 13.  He lives and works in New York, and recently released the album Everyday with Yaron Herman.
Issi Rozen Issi Rozen Issi Rozen is an Israeli-born jazz guitarist currently residing in Boston, Massachusetts. He has been recognized for mixing traditional middle-eastern and straight jazz elements into his music. In 2002, Rozen began teaching guitar and music theory at Berklee College of Music.
Harold Rubin Harold Rubin Harold Rubin is a South African-born Israeli visual artist and free jazz clarinettist.  He moved to Israel in 1962. Rubin returned to playing jazz in late 1979, having previously given up performance for more than a decade after his emigration from Africa.
Yotam Silberstein Yotam Silberstein Tel Aviv native Yotam Silberstein began playing guitar at age 10.¬†By the age of 21, Silberstein has won the coveted ‚ÄúIsraeli Jazz Player of The Year.‚ÄĚ ¬†Yotam Silberstein moved to New York in 2005. ¬†¬†He has won¬†the Sundance Time Warner award for film music.
Ofir Shwartz Ofir Shwartz Ofir Shwartz was born in Haifa. He is an Israeli award-winning jazz pianist, composer, arranger and producer.  He is one of the leading Israeli touring musicians.
Asaf Sirkis Asaf Sirkis Asaf was born in 1969 in Petah-Tikva, Israel. At the age of 12 Asaf began drum lessons, while also having a strong interest in playing electric bass. In October 1998, Asaf left Israel and settled in London in April 1999. He soon become part of the UK Jazz and world music scene.
Assif Tsahar Assif Tsahar Assif Tsahar was born in Israel in 1969. He is a tenor saxophonist and bass clarinetist. He has lived in New York City since 1990.  He founded the label Hopscotch Records in 1999. In 2006 he opened the music club Levontin7 with Daniel Sarid in Tel Aviv.
Sam Yahel Sam Yahel

A Hammond B-3 specialist, keyboardist Sam Yahel is a progressive musician with a bent toward mixing expansive post-bop and cerebral organ trio funk . Since moving to New York City in 1990, Yahel has performed and recorded with a wide array of name musicians.  

One of my favorites Sam Yahel pieces