Desert Island Jazz
Gilad Atzmon (2009)

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Born in 1963 in Tel Aviv, Gilad Atzmon has been a resident of London since the mid-'90s, and is now a British citizen. His love of the UK may have been sparked by his discovering British jazz via the recordings of Ronnie Scott and Tubby Hayes, but his love of jazz in the first place was certainly sparked by his finding Charlie Parker records in a Jerusalem record store.

He studied jazz and composition at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem, and later earned a Master's degree in Philosophy from the University of Essex, the latter while a part of one of the UK's most interesting bands, Ian Dury and the Blockheads.

Gilad's main axe is the alto saxophone (there's that Charlie Parker influence), but he plays all the horns--as well as the flute and some ethnic instruments--sometimes playing two at once. His music draws on the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe, and the Arab world, and his band, Orient House, has been described by one knowledgeable observer as "the best live band ever". His recordings aren't bad, either, nor is his comedy/klezmer project "Artie Fishel and the Promised Band": as Gilad puts it, "Artie is an American Jewish musician, totally convinced that that jazz has nothing to do with America or Africa. He knows that jazz is Jewish; he wants to bring it back home."

Gilad is the author of two politically provocative novels, translated into two dozen languages. "A Guide to the Perplexed" is set in 2052, by which time Israel has been replaced by a Palestinian state for 40 years. "My One and Only Love" features not only a trumpeter who chooses to play only one note, but also a spy who uncovers Nazi war criminals and locks them inside double-bass cases: they are then doomed to tour in perpetuity with the trumpeter's band.

As music critic John Lewis wrote in London's "The Guardian" "it is [Gilad's] blunt anti-Zionism rather than his music [or his novels] that has given him an international profile." But there are two sides to every coin: let Gilad have the last word. He says he plays "for peace, awareness, humor and beauty."
Pick Artist Album Song Label
# 1 John Coltrane Ballads Nancy (Impulse)
# 2 Elvin Jones At the Lighthouse, Vol. 1 Sambra (Blue Note)
# 3 Tin Hat Trio Memory Is an Elephant Fire of Ada (Angel)
# 4 Astor Piazzola Tango Zero Hour Milonga del Angel (Pangea)
# 5 Johannes Brahms   Clarinet Quintet  
# 6 Gilad Atzmon Gilad Atzmon Presents: Artie Fishel and the Promised Band J FM (ENJA)
# 7 Dave Liebman Classic Ballads If I Should Lose You (Candid)
# 8 Michael Brecker Wide Angles Angle of Repose (Verve)
# 9 Gilad Atzmon Gilad Atzmon Presents: Artie Fishel and the Promised Band Watermelon Man (What a Mellow Goy) (ENJA)
         
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