Israeli-born musician makes Michigan
debut with concert in East Lansing.
I Contributing Writer
ong for Peace adding jazz
to sounds of the Middle East,
will be one of the many origi-
nal numbers performed by the Omer
Avital Quintet during an appearance
Wednesday evening, Feb. 12, at the
Wharton Pasant Theater in East Lansing.
"We'll be playing all original instru-
mental music that I have written except
an arrangement of a Jewish Yemenite
song!' says Avital, 42, in a phone con-
versation from his home in New York.
Raised in Israel, Avital was born there to
Moroccan and Yemenite parents.
"The material is from my new album
(New Song on the Motema label) that
will be out this summer, my recent
album (Suite of the East) and some older
"I wrote 'Song for Peace' in 2004 when
I went back to Israel and was working
on the oud, a grandfather of the guitar,
transferred it to the piano and put some
harmonies on top of it. I started playing
the melody a few years later in New York
and recorded it two years ago. It's dance-
able with a spiritual feeling!"
Avital's latest composition, the single
"New Song; was intended to capture his
feeling of excitement as he writes each
piece. The composer-musician explains
that any emerging number has an excite-
ment that he never experienced before
because it expresses a different aspect of
Although Avital doesn't write lyrics for
his own songs, he sometimes writes lyr-
ics for the songs of others.
This will be the entertainer's first
appearance in Michigan in a program
co-sponsored by the Michigan State
University Jewish Studies Program and
the MSU College of Music.
Avital, who plays the bass, will be
working with Ali Jackson, a drummer
from Detroit, as well as Eli Degibri and
Joel Frahm on saxophones and Yonathan
Avishai on piano.
"I like to compose at the piano!' says
Avital, who built his career performing
at Smalls Jazz Club in New York. "Ideas
can come while I'm driving a car or
walking down the street. I just feel the
music in my hear
Avital has been playing instrumental
music since he was 9 years old and liv-
ing in Israel, where his family became
more cultural than observant in
approaching Judaism. He started with
guitar at the encouragement of his
Don't miss the opportunity
to see this multitalented,
multicultural dance institution
perform pieces from its
mother and had a young band.
After studying classical guitar at a
conservatory, he entered an arts high
school and focused on jazz. He bought
a bass, electric guitar and a keyboard
"In high school, I picked the upright
bass as my main instrument and became
a professional in my senior year!' he says.
After performing with military
orchestras, Avital moved to New York in
1992 and found work quickly. After 10
years in the United States, he decided to
move back to Israel, where he finished
his degree and taught in Jerusalem.
His interest in the music of the Middle
East intensified before he decided to
return to New York in 2005. His wife,
Liat, teaches Hebrew in Brooklyn, and
they have a 5-year-old son, Zohar.
"In the past five years, I have gone
to Israel about five times a year!' Avital
says. "I have strong musical connections
there. Every summer, I try to organize a
project connected to Sephardic Middle
Eastern music, and I bring the family
"I travel a lot to perform, but in
February, we're going to play at Dizzy's
Club Coca Cola at Lincoln Center.
"I'll be doing a master class in East
Lansing. I like playing at colleges and
universities. I meet great, interesting
young people, and I like to be in touch
with different communities — the
Jewish community, the jazz community
and the music-loving community:'
Horne of Michigan Opera Theo.
Friday, February 14, at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, February 15, at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, February 16, at 2:30 p.m.
FREE DANCE TALK
one hour prior to
FOR TICKETS & PRE-PAID PARKING
313.237.SING or visit michiganopera.org
Platinum Adopt a School sponsor
G. 1. issr. *.
Afterglow Sumer Sliver Mont
School Sponse, Sponsor Host
Student Row Sponsor
Dance Ensemble of Michigan
Educational Outreach Sponsor
The finest Japanese and Chinese cuisine has come to West Bloomfield.
Enjoy the show as our entertaining chefs cook right at the table.
Mouth watering Sushi bar and extensive selection at our cocktail lounge.
5656 W. Maple Rd., West Bloomfield
The Omer Avital Quintet will perform
at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb.12, at
the Wharton Pasant Theater, 750 W.
Shaw Lane, in East Lansing. $5-$15.
(517) 353-1982 or (313) 432-3493;
North of Maple, East of Orchard Lake Rd.
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HOURS: MON - THU 11AM- 10PM. FRI AND SAT 11AM-11PM. SUN 12-10
February 6 • 2014