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An interview with Israel's acclaimed bassist Noam Elron

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His dynamic touch with the double bass might not suggest it, but Noam Elron is a late bloomer. The Israel-based musician didn't begin experimenting with the instrument until he was in his mid-20s. On his latest album Fluctuation, Elron shows no sign of inexperience with the double bass; in fact, it sounds like he was born to play it. Elron took some time off from his hectic schedule for this revealing interview.

Q: How did you learn to play the bass?

A: I first picked up the double bass at age 25. I had played electric bass and had always felt that upright players knew some sort of secret, and I was keen to find out what it was. Being a lefty made it an even greater obstacle, but one day I just went into a store, rented a terrible Chinese instrument, and started playing it from the wrong side. I then realized that it's possible after all.

Q: When did you start performing with it?

A: After a short number of weeks I had the chutzpah to ask if a local amateur symphony needed a bassist. They indeed did, but the conductor made sure I take lessons, which proved invaluable, because I found out I was doing everything very wrong. Luckily, the teacher I found was flexible enough to accept me regardless of my “unique habits." I've studied quite a lot of classical double bass playing since.

Q: What drove you to that instrument?

A: I started playing electric bass at 17. It was the classic story of some friends wanting to start a band and “someone has to play bass." Since I was the only one who didn't play guitar, I had no sentiments against switching. I didn't switch, but started fresh.

Q: What is the jazz scene in Israel like?

A: Israel has quite a vibrant scene, centered in Tel Aviv. About 10 or 15 years ago many young talents left to live and study in some of the jazz capitals of the world, mainly New York City. They studied and played with the most important names in the jazz world.

Q: Did they ever come back?

A: Quite a few; they have returned to raise their families back home. So nowadays some real world-class musicians work here. Even more important, since you can't make a living in a small place like Israel playing jazz, all of these wonderful musicians teach and the upcoming generation of players who are growing up in this wealth of knowledge and passion is going to be truly amazing.

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