Geshem (i.e.: rain), the psychedelic electro-post-rock band, presents a unique rendition of the classic opera Porgy and Bess in a special production for the 2017 Red Sea Jazz Festival. The Geshem ensemble was formed two years ago when three young Israeli musicians decided to unite. They knew each other while working in the local music scene however, they got together only when Aviv Cohen (AKA – Sol Monk), invited Yonatan Albalak and Shuzin to join him in a warm-up performance for British trip-hop artist Tricky. Each has a distinct voice, and together, with the electric guitar, acoustic drums, effects, keyboards and vocals, they create a well-defined electro-acoustic sound. They shower the audience with their music like rain with a flow of songs, electronic bits, instrumental segments, and modern melodies reflecting a wide and deep sea of influences, from modern jazz, rock and electronic, through film scores and video games music, to industrial dance and hip-hop. In their vibrant performance, they explore abstract musical textures and experiment with different forms of expression, changing color, shape and vibe.
Performing throughout the country, they are currently recording their debut album. Young, talented and engaged they have played alongside artists such as Avishai Cohen, Marina Maximilian, Shlomi Shaban, Shlomo Gronich, Alon Oleartchik, Shem Tov Levi and Omer Avital. Shuzin also produced an album for acclaimed singer Esther Rada.
Besides their original materials, Geshem is keen to offer up-to-date interpretations to familiar works. Last summer, in a special production at the Israeli Opera House in Tel Aviv, together with the Revolution Orchestra, they introduced electronic-orchestral original interpretations of jazz standards. In Eilat, joined by vocalists, Keren Malka and Alon Lutringer as well as accompanying musicians they present a wholehearted musical interpretation.
Composed in 1935, Porgy and Bess was described by composer George Gershwin, a folk opera. Based on a novel by DuBose Hayward, this libretto depicts the lives of blacks in South Carolina in the United States in the late 1930s. The disabled Porgy living in the slums, strives to save his beloved Bess from the clutches of her ex-boyfriend, a drunken port worker, and from a drug dealer. As Gershwin explained, this is a folk opera since it is about real people who sing specially written folk songs and spirituals. Combining elements of European orchestral music, jazz and even Jewish motifs this opera has produced a series of favorite hits that include, Summertime, It Ain’t Necessarily So, and more. Porgy and Bess has especially captured the interest of jazz artists, including, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong who recorded selections from the opera on their 1958 collaboration, and Miles Davis and Gil Evans who recorded Jazz Arrangements of Porgy and Bess in 1959. Inspired by these masterful renditions, the Israeli Geshem ensemble follow in their footsteps and the sky is the limit.
Expect the unexpected since this is an extraordinary performance, adding the essences of local electro-jazz and contemporary avant-garde to one of the greatest American classics of all time. “We’re looking for new ways to bring together everything we love that has not yet been fused,” they say. All they want is to add an actual modern touch to beautiful songs, take us on an abstract sound adventure, and share their dream stories.
Yonatan Albalak Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Shuzin Keyboards, Vocals
Aviv Cohen (Sol Monk) Drums
Alon Lutringer Vocals
Keren Malka Vocals
Noa Ayali Cello
Roy Hermon Trumpet
Photo: Victor Mupper