From Blue Note to Beersheba
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From Blue Note to Beersheba

Guy Mintus
Guy Mintus

The other night we ventured across the Hudson, for the first time in quite a while, to hear some jazz at Joe’s Pub. A friend had promised that the bill would feature Gershwin covers, so why not?

We are not in any way particularly knowledgeable about jazz, so we conducted no advance research on the Guy Mintus Trio and arrived — following the usual accident-induced cross-river traffic delays — with zero expectations.

What we encountered proved to be a series of delightful surprises, over and beyond the musical excellence that we can’t really judge but can sort of take for granted given the venue.

First, there was the amazing physicality of the way Guy Mintus played the piano. Sometimes gentle, sometimes wildly — it was as if Bill Irwin were to sit down at a piano bench and play with utmost seriousness… until something else was called for.

And then there’s a fact that Guy Mintus turns out to be Israeli. A little Naomi Shemer along with my Gershwin? Bring it on!

(Guy has an album of Israeli standards to go along with his album of Gershwin standards; unfortunately, while I could pick one up after the concert, you won’t find it on Spotify. You can, however, find his version of the Zohar Argov classic “Haperach B’gani” on Spotify, along with his album of Gershwin covers. Both are recommended.)

If all this has you hungering for a taste of jazz on the New York-Israel axis, you might want to check out North Jersey’s own Al DiMeola during his six-day residency at the Blue Note in early June. The prolific guitarist, who was born in Jersey City and grew up in Bergenfield, will follow his Manhattan gigs with four in Israel, playing in Jerusalem, Haifa, Tel Aviv and Beersheba.

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