Israel’s southernmost city, Eilat, is synonymous, more than any other metropolitan center in Israel, with the word “freedom.” Eilat’s location among sand dunes facing a blue sea, its year-round warm and comfortable climate and the many things it has to offer tourists have turned it into a resort town that is ideal for recreation and which is a magnet for international tourism and sports events – definitely, a place to escape to for a great vacation. Eilat offers a wide variety of maritime and desert-based attractions – lovely diving sites, jeep tours, sites for sleeping under the stars and walking tours, as well as an exciting night life. Its constant feeling of freedom is expressed in the many events and festivals Eilat hosts throughout the year, the most famous of which is the Red Sea Jazz Festival.
The Red Sea Jazz Festival has become a feature of Eilat’s summer scene ever since 1987. An international success that is recognized globally, the festival has turned into a central event on the city’s calendar that attracts many tourists from Israel and overseas. The festival was founded and is currently managed by Dubi Lenz, a veteran Israeli radio celebrity who is a world-renowned expert on World Music and who has, ever since the festival’s founding, been able to recruit gifted musicians and ensembles from Israel and abroad and to create intimate, unique combinations that blend various influences and styles. The Red Sea Jazz Festival’s artistic program includes “pure” jazz as well as World Music and rock, and brings together veteran, celebrated performers alongside artists who have just started their careers.
The festival’s success led its initiators to launch a winter version that has become a regular annual event ever since 2011. This year’s winter jazz festival will be held from February 11 to 13. The Red Sea Jazz Festival’s winter session lasts three days while the summer edition is of four days’ duration. Each evening offers a number of jazz performances by leading groups and artists from Israel and overseas. The events are held in various parts of Eilat, but mainly in its hotels.
The festival’s artistic program is rich and broadly based and includes performances, Master classes and jam sessions that are open to the general public and in which the festival’s artists participate. The Master classes are given at Mike’s Place, an Irish bar, and offer 60-minute lectures that focus on jazz and music in general and which are followed by a performance by a jazz ensemble. One of the festival’s unique programs is its Intimate Performance Series, held at the Royal Beach hotel. This series features performances with a slightly different ambiance that is both intimate and exciting. This year’s series will include folk music, blues and indie and will be an encounter between artists from different worlds of music. Israeli artists featured in this year’s winter jazz festival include the Jane Bordeaux band, Geva Alon and Daniela Spector in a joint performance, and singer-guitarist Dida.
The Red Sea Jazz Festival, which attracts musicians from Israel and abroad, is a meeting-place for fascinating musical encounters. Other Israeli performers at the festival include Shlomo Gronich; percussionist Yinon Muallem, who will be appearing with pianist Guy Mintus; Grammy Award-winning pianist Ruslan Sirota; and accordionist Uri Sharlin. Alongside jazz performances by Israeli artists, visitors to the festival will also be able to enjoy seeing and listening to such international artists as celebrated Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodriguez, New York City saxophonist Jacques Schwarz-Bart, pianist and Hammond organist Larry Goldings and SLIX, an a-capella sextet that is one of the world’s most respected vocal ensembles.