Israeli jazz musicians to perform in Kansas City
By Anna Jaffe

Jazz musicians Aviv and Arik Livnat are reaching back to the past to unearth something new. The Livnat brothers have created a unique program that melds their family history with their music.
"Songs Hammered in Copper" grew out of their search for the artwork created by their maternal grandfather, a famous sculptor. The Livnats will perform "Songs Hammered in Copper" when they appear here in Kansas City Dec. 8 as part of the kickoff for the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City's 2003 annual fundraising campaign. (See box fordetails.) The event will be a musical and visual tour de force, blending the Livnat brothers' special fusion of Jewish music and jazz with video of their grandfather's sculptures. "Our grandfather was one of the renowned Jewish artists working with copper in Warsaw and in Paris in the 1930s," Aviv Livnat said in a recent telephone interview. "Later on, he came to Israel and he was one of the pioneers who established the art quarter in Safed. This dialogue we are having with the work of our grandfather is something modern, but with connections to the tradition. One can hear our music and one can also enter with us into this special journey into the copper." A sculpture called "10 Yiddish Folksongs Hammered in Metal" inspired the journey. The three-meter-high piece includes the stories of Jewish songs. "Our idea was: Let's find all those songs and let's learn them," Aviv Livnat said. "And then we stood in front of this huge copper relief and played." The resulting music was a mix of improvisational blues and traditional Jewish music. The Livnats call it Jewish blues. Aviv Livnat said it "... is not traditional Klezmer music. It's something different. It's our own journey into our music and our souls." A special connection The Livnats, both in their 30s, are veterans of the music world. The two became interested as youngsters - Aviv learning to play guitar and Arik studying flute and saxophone. While serving in the Israel Defense Forces, both performed with army musical groups. They also became hooked on jazz. The Livnats have performed with other musicians. Arik has even appeared with Motown great Stevie Wonder. But these days, that is happening less frequently. "In the last two years, we have worked together very closely," Aviv Livnat said. "We have had many concerts. Mostly we work together now." The brothers' discography is growing rapidly. In 2002 alone, they released two recordings. "Until now, we have released five CDs altogether," Arik Livnat said. "The first one is called 'The One You Can't See.' We dedicated it to our father, who was a pilot and was killed during the Six-Day War. It's jazz music, but our own compositions."In their second CD, "Meditation of a Sad Soul," the brothers set famous poems to music.But the pivotal moment for the Livnats was the 2000 release of their third CD "Jewish Jazz Live in Poland." It was the launch of "Songs Hammered in Copper." "It was part of a concert tour that we did during May 2000," Arik Livnat said. "We did 15 concerts all over Poland." It was a watershed event for the brothers. "We came with the work of our grandfather," Aviv Livnat said. "It was 80 years since his first exhibition there. It was really symbolic." The combination of Jewish music and jazz has not only captivated the people who have heard it but has opened doors for the Livnats at jazz festivals. "Things are rolling very fast now - really interesting things," Arik Livnat said. Despite their recent successes, the one thing that remains the same is the brothers' musical rapport. "I think there is something special in our connection," Aviv Livnat said. "We were growing up with no father. I was the big brother in a way. But I think we were both big brothers to each other. This became a special bond. In the music, we can express it in an interesting way, especially when we improvise together. We have some kind of intimate language that comes from the way we live our lives together." He describes the result as a musical dialogue."I guess we have things to say to each other with our instruments," Aviv Livnat said. Livnat brothers in concert The Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City is sponsoring a concert featuring jazz musicians Aviv and Arik Livnat. The event will take place at 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, at the new Overland Park Convention Center, 6000 College Blvd.Although there will no solicitation at the event itself, the concert will kick off the Federation's 2003 annual fundraising campaign.To order tickets, send a check by Dec. 4 to the Jewish Federation office, 5801 W. 115th St., Koralchik Wing, Suite 201, Overland Park, Kan. 66211. For more information, call the Federation office, (913) 327-8100. Kansas City Jewish Chronicle Nov. 29, 2003

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