May Features

Tribute to Jacques Sany at
The Tel-Aviv Jazz Festival

by Marek Boym

On the 20th of February, the Tel-Aviv Jazz Festival honored Jacques Sany as "The oldest jazz musician in Israel." He isn't really, but the others do not seem to be playing anymore.

The show started with a short video presentation prepared by his daughter, showing Sany's history as a "good-time jazzman," as he was described in the program. It started with his learning to play in his native Algiers (Algeria, not Louisiana), playing alongside such jazz greats as Albert Nicholas and his all-time idol, Sidney Bechet, and working for the Algiers Hot Club, which brought European and American musicians to play in Algiers. (It should be remembered that, in those days, Algeria was a department of France.) It continues with him playing at the 1960 jazz festival in France and then presents the various stages of his history in Israel, the high point of which was subbing for Milton Batiste with the Olympia Brass Band from New Orleans in a Jaffa nightclub. It also showed him playing at Fritzel's and at Preservation Hall in New Orleans, with the Dukes of Dixieland aboard the Natchez, and at a Sidney Bechet Society concert in New York.

After that, the real show started with Sany's group, the Good Time Jazz, an excellent group that, probably moved by the occasion, more than rose to it. They always play well, but this time they were even better. The Good Timers started with three numbers featuring Sany on the tenor saxophone. "That's All" was an opportunity to compare Sany's playing to that of another idol of his, Ben Webster, whose rendition is the theme of the 88 FM jazz program, Saxophone. I found Sany's playing a little harsher than Webster's, more in the Coleman Hawkins' line. "Rose Room" is more often used as a clarinet feature rather than as a tenor sax feature. Then Sany moved to his main horn, the soprano sax, for two more numbers, the old warhorse "Original Dixieland One Step" and Bechet's composition "Promenade Aux Champs Elysee."

After that, the drummer/co-leader Rami Hahn called three other musicians to take the stage -- pianist Danny Gottfried, clarinetist (and saxophonist, but not this time) Albert Piamenta and drummer Ah'rele Kaminsky, all veterans of the Israeli jazz scene. Joined by the Good Time's bassist, they, together with Sany on soprano sax, gave a rousing, swinging performance. They only played two numbers -- "I Found a New Baby" and "Sweet Georgia Brown" -- but how they played! Sany thanked his guests for coming and playing tribute to him and added that, when they are his age, he'd participate in tributes to them. After that, Good Time Jazz returned for a few more numbers, two of which were Bechet compositions, and then The Isradixie Band (another band in which Sany is a member) took the stage. Again, it was an excellent performance. Singer Paul Moore devoted "Someday, Sweetheart" to Sany, substituting "Jacques Sany" for "Sweetheart," with appropriate changes in the text.

And then, much too soon, it was the time for the grand finale -- "The Saints," what else, for which members of Good Time Jazz, Piamenta and Gottfried were back.

It was not only wonderful music, but a sentimental event as well. The long standing ovation that followed was well deserved.

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May 2008 issue | © 2008 The Mississippi Rag

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