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Eli Degibri Preps You For The Red Sea Jazz Festival

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This year we celebrate 30 years of this special and exciting festival with a tribute to 'Israeli Jazz.' 30 unique performances, a festival that has a rainbow of Israeli jazz musicians.
My first memory of the jazz festival in Eilat was when I was around 15 years old, about a year before I was allowed to head down south by myself. I had to imagine what it would really be like there while listening to live broadcasts religiously on Kol Israel Radio. To this day I still have the cassettes with recordings of those magical performances in Eilat. One of those, for example, was from a concert featuring Joe Henderson with legendary drummer Al Foster, whose quartet I joined years later and played with for a long period of more than 10 years. It makes me very happy that this year the tradition of live and recorded radio returns, allowing many more children and young people to listen to the sounds of jazz as they dream and fantasize along.

This year we celebrate 30 years of this special and exciting festival with a tribute to “Israeli Jazz." 30 unique performances, a festival that has a rainbow of Israeli jazz musicians.

The decision to hold the festival in this year's format (which does not imply the years to come) demanded great courage from everyone involved, and not a small amount of thought and creativity. It's clear that the audience, both regulars and addicts, as well as those being exposed for the first time, understand the size and significance of such a huge celebration, which means thousands will be visiting the stages and public plaza in Port of Eilat. Like every year, mutual inspiration, even among the crowd, and among the musicians appearing (over 200), is customary.

As usual, the week before the festival, I get excited. And this year—double the excitement. Perhaps because after five years of holding the title of Artistic Director of the festival (the first three years with Dubi Lenz), I am allowing myself to take the festival stage for the first time since taking the helm. This year, I, along with my quartet, will also be performing. We have the tremendous honor of hosting artists whose music is grouped in genres other than jazz, such as Shalom Hanoch, Alon Olearchick, Yoni Rechter, Esther Ofarim, Eran Tzur, Shlomi Shaban, Miki Shaviv, and more—all musicians and artists who grew up, among other things, on jazz. Both directly and indirectly, they have shaped generations of Israeli jazz musicians, whose works are stamped by the influences of Yoni Rechter, Alon Olearchick, and Shalom Hanoch, for example.

Another tradition returning to its former glory is that of the poolside jam sessions at the hotel (Crowne Plaza). Anyone who has ever been to the festival does not need to be reminded of those exciting and thrilling nights around the pool, when suddenly a great artist who had just played on the big stage rose spontaneously onto the jam stage, and left the audience with their mouths agape.

I've already mentioned that more than 200 musicians will visit the festival this year. Another fact worth noting is the age range of these performers: boys aged 16 to veteran musicians at 90.

You should come down to Eilat (IMHO). Let's celebrate this colorful carnival, it's sure to be the best party in the country—and don't say I didn't tell you!

About Eli Degibri

Eli Degibri is an internationally acclaimed saxophonist, composer and band leader. He has served as the Artistic Director of the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Eilat, Israel for the past five years. His latest album, Cliff Hangin', received 5-stars from DownBeat Magazine and is currently available on iTunes.

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