Friday, August 31, 2007

Eilat and all that jazz



The Vienna Art Orchestra letting loose in Eilat - filmed with my digital camera. My first video on this blog. Turn up the sound!

Back from annual jaunt to the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Eilat. Three wonderful sleepless nights of jazz, booze and more jazz. Three days of sleep, reading, food and pool. If only real life was more like this. After the official shows at the port (attended largely by wrinklies like us) the action begins at the jam session at the Riviera Hotel where the audience is mainly under 25 and where even younger musicians can share a stage with some of the big names who come back to the hotel to jam until dawn. There's hope for Israeli jazz if so many young people are prepared to take the trouble to head for Eilat, often just for the jam session.

My personal favourites at the official shows were the Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko, saxophonist Chris Potter and the Vienna Art Orchestra but there was something for everyone including the slick British soul band Incognito (whom I'd never heard of).

The trip down to Eilat transports you, via the emptiness of the Negev, to a place without a sense of place, a town with no history that exists only for tourism; in other words, Israel's very own Las Vegas (only without the casinos). Lacking any natural attraction other than the harsh, dry heat, a few strips of beach and a small, rapidly disappearing coral reef, Eilat is constantly in search of new "attractions" to keep the punters coming. After the Underwater Observatory, the IMAX and Amazing World we now have Kings City (see below) which seems to feature a very big water chute and which, together with the architectural absurdities of Herod's Palace Hotel, is turning Eilat into our very own Disneyland.
Lying in our beds in mid-morning the noise of hotel aerobic instructors exhorting their flabby customers to push harder competed with the drills and jackhammers of a new hotel under construction.

Israel's plastic paradise in the desert - the pool at the Agamim hotel.

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