Irrepressible Pinhas and Sons strut their stuff at Red Sea Jazz Fest


One of the most vocal criticisms of bebop during the advent of modern jazz in the 1940s was that it was too cerebral. Where oh where – the jazz cops of the day complained – was the fun factor, the definitely dancing swing-style joie de vivre that preceded this groundbreaking development in the jazz world led by Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Bud Powell?

If they had only hung around 70 years or more, these reactionaries of yesteryear might have been delighted to note that the next edition of the Red Sea Jazz Festival (November 11-13) features a charming group called Pinhas Uvanav (Pinhas and Sons). Festival marketing officials called the troupe an “unstoppable colorful cult.” Only time will tell if that last epithet is on the nail, but the rest certainly applies.

The ensemble, which usually includes 10 instrumentalists and a singer, is conducted by keyboardist Ofer Pinhas, hence the group’s nickname.

“In fact, it’s done with humor,” says the conductor. “I hope people will understand that,” he laughs.

What people can’t fail to get is the simple, unbridled joy of Pinhas and the rest of the gang as they take the stage. They just go for it all every time, reeling off bouncy, funky numbers like there’s no tomorrow, and having a blast while they’re at it.

Eilat. (credit: RONY BALAHSAN)

The festival blurb also describes the group as something close to the musical love child you’d get if you crossed paths with Shem Tov Levy with Shlomo Gronich. The Gronich factor appears loud and clear, for example, in a playful song called “Ken Zeh Chasar Sikui” (“Yes, it’s hopeless”), which is a clear reference to Gronich’s staple “Yesh Lee Simpatya” . In fact, the band played the hit with Gronich, live, a few years ago.

Pinhas began his musical journey in the classical field, like Gronich, and even attended the latter’s alma mater, the Tel Aviv University School of Music. Then again, there’s a jazz flavor to its ticklish ivory backdrop, though it doesn’t fully identify with that side of the genre tracks.

“I feel strongly connected to the spirit of jazz, but I’ve never called myself a jazz musician,” he says. “I never studied Charlie Parker’s solos. I learned to play jazz but never really got into it. “

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

” It’s the same thing. I started with classical music, and now I’m doing something else. But it is really one and the same.

This, connoisseurs would say, is the mark of a true artist. Industry executives like to catalog this or that genre of music, so that they can direct them to certain areas of consumption and naturally generate more income for themselves. But any artist worth his salt, especially in the music community, only talks about “music” in generic terms of, say, rock, pop, or classical jazz music. To create, you need an open mind and be as uncritical as possible. Pinhas’s comment echoes something the late iconic jazz drummer Max Roach once told me, simply “music is music”. It may sound simplistic, but it is the essence of sonic creativity.

Having said that, we, those who write and consume music, need to have some idea of ​​what we can get when we consider buying a ticket to a show or shell out for an album. So, for the sake of convenience, we’re going to place Pinhas Uvanav’s offerings in the realm of funk spice pop.

The closest Pinhas, 34, comes to categorize the beginnings of the group’s stylistic orientation, that is, it has always followed a songwriting mindset.

“When I was in the army, I tried to continue my musical work, and I worked with a guitarist [Barak Srour] – who is still part of the group – and a flautist. I wrote songs, I guess you could say they were very much in Yoni Rechter’s vogue, ”he notes, referring to the acclaimed 69-year-old singer / songwriter who stood out with the seminal pop-rock band Kaveret in the early 1970s. As role models, Rechter, who is revered in all fields, including by many jazz artists, is not a bad choice. He also performs in the opening of the Red Sea Jazz Festival.

Pinhas has evolved.

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

He’s still a mainstay of the band’s production, especially with powerful singer Noa Karadavid in the mix. She makes her presence felt in an impressive unpretentious way. She clearly has the range, intensity, and decibel capacity to wow audiences right away, but she comes across as being there for the group, not strutting around.

The classic Pinhas tendencies are manifested in the inclusion of a violinist, violist and, occasionally, cellist, flautist Barak Sober adding many sonorous tunes. The aforementioned live synergy with Gronich begins with a keyboard riff reminiscent of Bach. These roots have also influenced the evolution of Pinhas and Sons.

“People gradually joined the group, and my thinking has always been oriented towards orchestration. These are things that react to other things. There is a counterpoint, and it is calculated.

Still, getting serious and really pushing your musical boat out there was one way for Pinhas. The musician in his twenties had not yet embarked on his developing profession. The proverbial required rear kick was provided by Gronich.

“I had done a concert here and there and Gronich heard them,” Pinhas remembers. “He was on a radio show and he said if there was someone who knew me, he should tell me to stop messing around and keep playing music,” Pinhas laughs. And the rest is an ongoing, cheerful, cohesive, polished, groovy laissez-faire story.

The group released a debut album a few years ago and the fledgling second offering will provide the core of the Eilat show on November 12 (4:15 p.m.).

Elsewhere in a diverse lineup of star-studded festivals, there’s iconic rocker Shalom Hanoch, stellar singer Ester Rada, internationally renowned pianist Anat Fort, talented pianist duo Tom Oren and guitarist Nitzan Barr, with songwriter. – Ever popular septuagenarian performer Hava Alberstein lowering the festival curtain on November 13.

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