International artists return to Jerusalem Jazz Festival

When the 8th Jerusalem Jazz Festival runs at the Israel Museum July 5-7, it will be the first in several years to feature international artists.

“We’ve been waiting for this for a while,” said CEO Eyal Sher. “The artists are so hungry to perform live again and to tour.”

Sher points out that Israel usually hosts some 100 international events each year, and is looking at around 70 this summer alone.

The three-day jazz festival, which runs each day from sundown into the night, includes visiting artists from North and Central Africa, Switzerland, Turkey, the US, South America and Israel.

With a lineup created by Israeli trumpeter and festival director Avishai Cohen, who is also launching his latest album, artists include American pianist Fred Hersch, and Israeli musician Zion Golan meeting the modern Israeli sound of four-piece El Khat, alongside Turkish musician Dilan Balkay.

There’s also American guitar luminary Julian Lage with his trio, Israel’s Boom Pam with Kutiman and Melike Sahim, Morocco’s Lala Tamar with Samir Langos, and others.

It’s one big eclectic event, said Sher.

“There’s the musicians, and then the meetings of musicians, the ad hoc productions taking place right here,” said Sher. “Avishai always pushes the boundaries of what jazz is. It’s electronic and world music and groove, lots of styles — and they all enter this thing that is in the museum, meeting the art of the museum.”

Last year’s festival took place only in the open air outside the museum, as the country was still in the grip of the pandemic.

That concern is certainly still present, said Sher, but this year the festival will take place both inside the museum galleries and outside.

His big dream is to offer two editions of the jazz event, one during the winter — the original season for the festival — and one during the summer.

“We love being inside and outside and we’ll move forward with our international musicians but very carefully and cautiously,” said Sher, given the rising numbers of coronavirus cases.

The event is a long-awaited one for Israeli audiences, and ticket purchases are going strong, said Sher. The event includes two larger stages at the outside upper entrance of the museum, with capacity for 700 people, while events inside the museum galleries are smaller by nature.

Audience members can buy daily passes for NIS 235, or a full, three-day pass for NIS 630. Passes include entrance to all musical events taking place in and around the museum.

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