Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Jazz in Beirut

Some years ago the bassist Aboud Saadi worked six nights a week; now it's only one performance a week, as Alex Selim reports ( Lebanon Daily Star ). "The spate of bombings that began a month ago has drastically reduced the amount of live music on offer in Beirut"; the audience stayed at home. The last three decades have been turbulent, but "last year's war with Israel and the latest eruptions of violence have been catastrophic". Beirut's Blue Note Café only signs "flexible" contracts with the musicians playing there in order to be able to react to the current security situation. Even in good times life as a jazz musician in Lebanon had been hard. The pay was low; club owners and the audience showed little respect for the artists. Even worse than an inattentive audience, though, is no audience at all. The keyboard player Tom Hornig accepts more gigs at private functions these days and composes advertising jingles or scores television documentaries. Last month nine live gigs had been cancelled for him; and he can't be himself if he can't play jazz. Other musicians left Lebanon altogether to earn their money in Dubay, for instance. There is no jazz culture there, "but there's stability and security and high hopes".

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