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Profile of the artists: The Livnat Brothers
By Amanda Borschel

Aviv and Arik Livnat know what it is like to fulfill childhood dreams. Over the past decade, the Livnat Brothers have made an international career out of their original genre of Jewish jazz, recorded three albums, and now their new album, A Child's Dream, is being launched this Saturday night in Tel Aviv's Tmuna Theater. As with the new album, all of the brothers' previous recordings and concert tours have had a strong familial ties. Their first disc, The One You Can't See, is dedicated the the memory of their father, pilot Arnon Livnat, who was the first pilot killed in the Six Day Way. Aviv, now 38, was only three years old at the time and Arik, 35, was born after his father fell. Later, in between serving in IDF bands, the brothers produced their second album, Meditation of the Sad Soul. Strengthening the brothers' playing relationship, the album also opened the door to Aviv's vocals, as the disc consists of works of international poets including American Robert Frost translated by Aviv to Hebrew and set to music by the pair. Their third disc, Jewish Jazz: Live in Poland, according to Arik, "set the musical direction that we have followed ever since." Recorded in Poland's Blue Note Cafe, it is a mixture of jazz and traditional Jewish melodies. The culmination of years of researching the family roots, this album is dedicated to their grandfather, artist Arieh Merzer. Their Holocaust-survivor grandfather's legacy took the brothers to museums in Poland, France, and even here in Jerusalem's Yad V'Shem. In the course of their research, the brothers learned Yiddish, both spoken and written, and Aviv is now completing a doctorate in the language. Having taken "so-called American jazz," as Arik says, and turned it into a new Jewish musical form, the brothers hit the road with an international tour called "Songs Hand-Hammered in Copper," which brought them critical acclaim here and abroad. Now, with their new album, A Child's Dream, the pair, like the good Jewish boys they are, have dedicated the disc to their mother, also an artist in her own right. The name of the album represents not only the pair's close childhood and their successful fulfillment of their dream of making music a way of life, but also reflects the brothers' work in their two and a half year old Raz-Ram Foundation. The foundation's goals include developing and enriching the artistic world of orphaned children and teenagers in Israel through mentoring in the creation process. According to Arik, his brother Aviv is the visionary and has been mulling over the idea for several years. Arik, being the practical one, agreed to help organize the foundation and it gained national attention last year with a gala concert attended by President Moshe Katsav and Culture Minister Matan Vilna'i. The foundation is unique in that it funds projects that are inclusive to all sectors of Israeli and Palestinian society, regardless of race or religious affiliation. With 14 different projects throughout the country, from Yaffo to small Druze villages to Mea Shearim, the brothers have centered their foundation's activities around two different projects. The Creativity Project involves an educational interaction between older artists and youth with shared backgrounds. And the Seed Project takes groups and sends them out with guided artistic work in the community. All artists volunteer their time and expertise. According to the foundation, "Mutual creative participation enables the process of 'subtle mourning' for those children who participate and directly affects the surrounding society." This week, Haifa's Hecht Museum began hosting Arab and Jewish children in an archeology project which will proceed throughout the summer. For all its semi-political aspirations, Arik says firmly that "This is not a political foundation. Period." The brothers have created the organization "for the sake of art alone." The worlds of art and politics sometimes collide, however. Last month the brothers addressed the UN in a special session on children and out of the five other "Israeli" foundations invited, Raz-Ram was the only organization without Palestinian ties. As their musical fame is spreading, the brothers have also had offers to write for plays and dance performances in other countries. Recently the pair composed the award winning music for the Yiddish-language play, Jacob Jacobson: The Story of Creation, which was performed on London's West End. Now back in Israel, the brothers are launching their new CD this Saturday night at 9 p.m. in the Tmuna Theater. Jul. 21, 2002

By Amanda Borsche

The Livnat brothers - A Child's Dream -Golden Peacock Winner of the 2002 ACUM composers' award, A Child's Dream is a blend of older revamped material and newer tunes, with the Livnat brothers at the helm of their new soothing musical journey down memory lane. In their fourth album, Aviv and Arik Livnat explore previously recorded but undeveloped themes, specially remixed for this year's release. The eight tracks reflect the album's mood, with numbers such as "A Child is Dancing," "Nostalgia," "Good Children," and of course the title track, encapsulating the brothers' reminiscences on their shared artistic childhood. Some of the music was originally written for theater and dance performances here in Israel. Improvisation on a Jewish theme is the motif of the brothers' blend of jazz stylings and traditional melodies. Within the album's multi-layered ambient feel, the purity of line and uncomplicated song structures remain unspoiled, smacking of a musical sophistication while retaining simplicity. That is no child's play. Although the album is instrument-based, the brothers have employed technical effects which add intrigue to the otherwise soporific feel of the disc. Aviv, the older of the two, plays a sensual guitar and his vocals are featured on "Good Children," one of the highlights of the disc. Backed by a rich string section and appropriately placed singers, the tune has an almost calypso feel of cool breezes and reassuring peace. Arik, the reedman (who can even whistle, as proven on the title track), is featured throughout on various saxophones and flutes, adding at times humorous riffs on more staid themes. The brothers jointly produced the album under their Golden Peacock label. Aviv, the artist of the two, contributed the "Childhood Painting," and Arik designed the cover. Jul. 21, 2002

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