July 2010 Featured Musician, Gilad Atzmon

Veteran’s Today Atzmon’s album Exile was BBC jazz album of the year in 2003. Playing over 100 dates a year, he has been called “surely the hardest-gigging man in British jazz.” His albums, of which he has recorded nine to date, often explore the music of the Middle East and political themes. He has described himself as a “devoted political artist.” He supports the Palestinian right of return and the one-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

His criticisms of Zionism, Jewish identity, and Judaism, as well as his controversial views on The Holocaust and Jewish history have led to allegations of antisemitism from both Zionists and anti-Zionists. A profile in The Guardian in 2009 which described Atzmon as “one of London’s finest saxophonists” stated: “It is Atzmon’s blunt anti-Zionism rather than his music that has given him an international profile, particularly in the Arab world, where his essays are widely read.”  His new book The Wandering Who? is now availble at Amazon.com

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From his bio Gilad Atzmon was born in Israel in 1963 and had his musical training at the Rubin Academy of Music, Jerusalem (Composition and Jazz). As a multi-instrumentalist he plays Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Baritone Saxes, Clarinet and Flutes. His album Exile was the BBC jazz album of the year in 2003. He has been described by John Lewis on the Guardian as the “hardest-gigging man in British jazz”. His albums, of which he has recorded nine to date, often explore political themes and the music of the Middle East.

Until 1994 he was a producer-arranger for various Israeli Dance & Rock Projects, performing in Europe and the USA playing ethnic music as well as R&R and Jazz.

Gilad and Fan at The Mercury Cafe in Denver

Gilad and Fan at The Mercury Cafe in Denver

Coming to the UK in 1994, Atzmon recovered an interest in playing the music of the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe that had been in the back of his mind for years. In 2000 he founded the Orient House Ensemble in London and started re-defining his own roots in the light of his emerging political awareness. Since then the Orient House Ensemble has toured all over the world. The Ensemble includes Eddie Hick on Drums, Yaron Stavi on Bass and Frank Harrison on piano & electronics.

Gilad is Outspoken in His View of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Gilad is Outspoken on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

A prolific writer, Atzmon’s essays are widely published. His novels ‘Guide to the Perplexed’ and ‘My One And Only Love’ have been translated into 24 languages. Over the years Gilad Atzmon’s music has moved more and more towards a cultural hybrid. As a bandleader and reed player he has been amazing his listeners with his powerful personal style that combines great bebop artistry and Middle-Eastern roots in a sophisticated, sometimes ironical manner. Influenced by Coltrane’s powerful approach on the sax, Gilad’s live performances are simply breathtaking and overwhelming.

Sharlene with Musician & Activist, Gilad Atzmon, at the Mercury Cafe

As a member of the Blockheads, Gilad has also recorded and performed with Ian Dury, Robbie Williams, Sinead O’Connor and Paul McCartney. Gilad has also recorded with Robert Wyatt, the Water Boys and many others. In 2007 Gilad extended his role as a Producer, working with outstanding singer-songwriter Sarah Gillespie to produce her debut album released in September 2009.

In 2008-9 Gilad also produced the Brazilian percussion star Adriano Adewale. The multi ethnic Irish band Yurodny and is currently producing the UK legendary bass player Norman Watt-Roy’s debut album.

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