Zimos News: Jazz activism



Gilad Atzmon and the Orient House Ensemble 2010 tour

by Jonathon Blakeley

The Orient House Ensemble are currently touring the UK, promoting their amazing new album – ‘The tide has changed’. The following is a review of a performance, at St Ives Jazz Club, Cornwall, on Friday 15th of October 2010. The current OHE line up is

  1. Gilad Atzmon – Saxophones, Clarinets, Vocals
  2. Eddie Hick – Drums
  3. Frank Harrison – Piano
  4. Yaron Stavi – Double Bass, Vocals

Serpent charmer

The set started with a Gilad announcing that they were going to play their new album, ‘The tide has changed’, and commenced with the opening track ‘Dry fear’, warming up the crowd with his serpent charmer spell.

The next track required a change of instrument, and for this one Gilad chose his saxophone. He quickly realized that he had left his sax strap up in his hotel room and asked whether someone would retrieve his strap, as he could not play without it. This accident allowed him to improvise and free associate with words. With the strap recovered, a cheer went up from the crowd and the set kicked off with the title track – ‘the tide has changed’ – intense, frenzied and original.


“Obviously I like playing the music but it’s not all about the music, it is Palestine that I am also really interested in. In helping to free the Palestinian People that is very important too…”

The thing that quickly becomes glaringly obvious is the Gilad Atzmon is a chameleon, many different elements in a glorious synergy.

  • Jazz Musician/Composer
  • Writer
  • Blogger
  • Producer
  • Stand-up Comic
  • Political Activist
  • Traveling Salesman
  • Creative Guru

Ethically sound

What distinguishes Gilad Atzmon from other musicians, aside from his prodigious talent and wicked sense of humour, is his outspoken political opinions. Most other musicians are much more tight lipped, they argue it’s all about the music, and in doing so reveal their blinkered self-censoring approach. The content of their music quite simple & safe. No politics, religion or controversy.

Gilad does not restrict himself in any such manner, and here one sees his Blockhead punk roots. That is what makes him so thrilling and exciting. In a world where musicians are safe, traditional, conventional, he is provocative, surreal and challenging. He says what others are too afraid to say, for fear of upsetting their careers, standing and reputation.

Most activists stand around with a megaphone shouting angrily about this or that, but not offering any solutions. But Gilad is not angry, quite the opposite. Atzmon is a Jazz activist. He is optimistic and offers solutions to the Israel conundrum. Democracy for Palestinians, Israel should give them the vote, it is the only way that Israel can ensure it’s survival. Israel must cease to be an apartheid regime and integrate with the Palestinians.

He dances about with his various voodoo horns, in-between sarcastically mocking the madness of this world. Creating fantasies and fictions here and there, with much wry amusement.

“At this time I was in Kabul, working for M16 looking for Mujahideen….” he sniggers…Then casually slipping into one of many surreal adverts promoting their albums. “You know we are even offering discount on the Cd’s for volume purchases” he quipped. “It is not that we are desperate, but there is an element of despair…..” he joked dryly. – Gilad Atzmon


Gilad demostrates Jazz rhythms

Higher dimensions of Jazz

Then back to exploring the higher dimensions of Jazz….the music always so unexpected and joyously random. Ethnic rhythms & eastern scales in a free jazz synthesis. Suddenly one of the band would pull a tune in a new unexpected way and rest would quickly adapt. I must single Eddie Hick out for ‘high’ praise, he dazzled with his drumming and nearly eclipsed Gilad several times, wonderful gob-smacking snare work, bewildering percussion and improvisation. It is wonderful to see people at the top of their game, and this is the best the OHE have achieved so far, amazing virtuosity, musicality and range of emotions. Pushing Jazz to the limits and beyond – Peak Experiences Allow Consciousness Expansion. PEACE. not to be missed.

“There are no rules”- Gilad Atzmon