For a country of some 7.5 million, Israel has a surprisingly large jazz footprint. More and more internationally acclaimed jazz musicians happen to be from the country.The same reporter later blogged:
Twenty-five years ago, the Israeli jazz scene was barely on the cultural map. But enough American musicians moved there, and enough foreign-trained Israelis moved back — and they started teaching. There's long been an infrastructure for classical music in Israel, and jazz latched onto that model. U.S. jazz schools have since established relationships with Israeli ones, owing in part to long-standing political relations.
Yesterday, All Things Considered aired my conversation with host Guy Raz about Israeli jazz musicians. Or rather, jazz musicians from Israel — I haven't had the opportunity to scope out the Tel Aviv clubs for myself. But I did talk to a number of Israeli musicians — several of Arnie Lawrence's students among them — to get a sense of why it's boomed of late. So I wanted to expand on some of the ideas I only briefly raised yesterday.
Education is a big part of it: Americans or American-trained musicians moving/returning to Israel to teach. Israel's teachers have long produced talented classical musicians — think of Daniel Barenboim, Itzhak Perlman or Gil Shaham — so the infrastructure was there for widespread musical literacy.
Twenty-five or so years ago, the numbers for jazz seemed to hit a small but critical mass. The Thelma Yellin High School of the Arts, like many arts magnet schools, became known as a jazz incubator. The Rimon School for Jazz and Contemporary Music started up in 1985, and developed an affiliation with Berklee College of Music in Boston. The Hed College of Contemporary Music started, and is now connected to Oklahoma City University. And Arnie Lawrence would be proud to know that the New School announced a formal partnership last year with the jazz program at the Israel Conservatory of Music. (A whopping 10 percent of the New School's jazz student body is from Israel — a country whose entire population is less than Virginia's, or New Jersey's, or North Carolina's — according to a New School press release.)
Seemed an appropriate post on this most American of holidays.