Unique Exhibition Shows Israeli Jazz Through Photos

“Israeli Jazz”, a unique exhibition of photographs of Israeli jazz musicians, opens on October 13th

The countdown has started.

Emotions run high as “Israeli Jazz”, a unique photo exhibition of Israeli jazz musicians, is expected to be inaugurated on October 13 at Tel Aviv’s ZOA House.

Based on the work of French photographer Raphaël Perez, “Israeli Jazz” presents jazz in the Jewish state today, but also looks back to its beginnings in the 1930s.

“Israeli Jazz” is an original multimedia project combining a printed book, events and a series of exhibitions, premiering in Israel at the invitation of the Jaffa International Jazz Festival 2022. The event will take place from October 13th to 16th.

Raphael Perez
Raphael PerezJazz musician Noa at La Seine Musicale theater in Boulogne, France, circa 2018.

Until October 30, visitors have the privilege of discovering 25 high-quality photos taken between 2017 and 2022, carefully selected to reflect the uniqueness of Perez’s work.

“It was important to me to highlight the brightest photos and those that emanate the most intense emotions. Because it’s about jazz, I wanted to exhibit the recordings that best express the sounds through the image, because they can also be ‘sound’,” said the exhibition’s curator, Katerina Krylova i24NEWS.

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The exhibition is based on the photographer’s book “IsraelJazz”, which will be published in February 2023 in French, English and Hebrew. The book contains 80 photos of about 60 Israeli musicians, with a digital platform expected next November.

Raphael Perez
Raphael PerezThe photographer Raphaël Perez

In his book, Perez examines Israeli jazz from its origins. It unveils the country’s main jazz schools and festivals, but also includes rare interviews and testimonials, as well as the biographies of 65 musicians.

The Birth of Israel Jazz

Perez started photography 10 years ago after a career in high tech, with the majority of his photographic work being in the music field. During the Covid pandemic, he wanted to compile in a book his knowledge and the important visual material he had collected from his meetings with Israeli jazz musicians.

“Searching for information about this style of music made me aware of the diversity of music education structures in Israel, as well as the network of agents who care for the musicians,” Perez said.

“I’ve been trying to understand how jazz came into the country and how it carved a prominent place for itself.”

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The photographer explains that in Israel, the first three jazz musicians – including Avishai Cohen, a renowned double bass player who has one of the largest international footprints today – quickly tested the music markets abroad.

Raphael Perez
Raphael PerezAvishai Cohen at Le Théâtre de Chelles in Chelles, France, circa 2019.

“They were in their early twenties and they went to the United States to try their luck, like bohemians who slept on the streets while they found a place to live and worked on construction sites while they signed contracts,” he noted. “You paved the way and laid the foundation for the nearly 300 Israeli professional jazz musicians in the United States to gain international recognition.”

Jazz and high tech, same fight in Israel

Israeli musicians have gradually conquered the world stage, making the Jewish state one of the countries with the most jazz musicians in the world.

“The jazz industry is similar to Israel’s position in high-tech,” Perez noted. “It’s a very unknown fact that I wanted to make visible to a wider audience. This is my small contribution to promoting Israeli culture.”

Through his photos, Perez highlights Israel’s important place in the jazz arena.

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Since the beginning of the jazz genre, which originated in African-American communities in the southern United States in the 19th century, several waves of Israeli musicians have emerged one after the other.

A musician from Israel’s first jazz wave in 1990, double bassist Omer Avital, launched a framework that welcomes young musicians who want to start their careers in New York and helps them with everything they need as expatriates.

Raphael Perez
Raphael PerezOmer Avital, Paris, 2022

The Uniqueness of Israeli Jazz

Jazz students from all over the world first learn the classics and then bring their own personal touch, coloring jazz with new instruments from many influences. In Israel, where the majority of the population consists of people from 125 countries, different musical colors quickly blended to create the jazz that fans love to hear today.

Israeli jazz is characterized by world-recognized musical education of the highest quality, combined with rich cultural diversity and unparalleled know-how, ensuring it the success it deserves.

According to Perez, Israeli jazz schools will soon become an attractive center for young musicians who come from all over the world to perfect their skills.

Caroline Haïat is a journalist for the French website i24NEWS

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