Jazz just got dirt­ier

The Ap­ples are an Is­raeli jazz band who like dress­ing up as nurses and hav­ing a good time. Paul Lester finds out more

The Jewish Chronicle - - Arts & Books -

THE AP­PLES are Is­rael’s fore­most ex­po­nents of jazzedup, sam­ple-heavy, scratch’n’mix elec­tro-funk. There are nine mem­bers of this en­er­getic, eclec­tic record­ing and per­for­mance unit, in­clud­ing a trum­peter, a trom­bon­ist, two sax­o­phon­ists, an acous­tic bassist, a drum­mer, a pair in charge of turnta­bles, and a sound mixer also re­spon­si­ble for live ef­fects.

They are pow­er­ful on record and they work up quite a sweat on­stage — and that is be­fore they don their in­con­cert wear such as the nurses’ uni­forms, Star Wars masks and Vil­lage Peo­ple gear.

The only prob­lem is: how do you de­scribe them, and what pi­geon­hole do you put them in? “We’re Count Basie meets P-Funk,” of­fers drum­mer Yoni Halevy help­fully, re­fer­ring to the jazz leg­end and the style of groove mu­sic played by mad­cap mid-’70s funk troupes Par­lia­ment and Funkadelic.

“Our in­ten­tion was al­ways to be jazzbased, but we’ve also got in the band DJs, turntab­lists and a sound en­gi­neer. We all trained as jazz mu­si­cians, so that was al­ways there. It comes nat­u­rally to us.”

But what kind of jazz do they play? Be­bop, swing, big band? “It’s been called ‘dirty jazz’,” says Halevy, who, at 26, is the joint-youngest in The Ap­ples (three of them are 33, the rest in be­tween).

The son of a Man­cu­nian mother and Is­raeli fa­ther, he is also the band’s un­of­fi­cial min­is­ter for in­for­ma­tion — or at least he is tonight, be­cause the oth­ers are busy sound­check­ing for their gig later on at a club in Sh­effield.

“Re­ally, I can’t think of a name within the jazz realm. ‘Acid jazz’ doesn’t quite cut it. It’s jazz-in­formed, in­stru­men­tal elec­tro-funk. Since we came on the scene there have been other bands in­cor­po­ratin­ga­funkier­sortof­sound.And there are other bands us­ing scratch­ing tech­niques. But be­cause we’re purely in­stru­men­tal, there is no one quite like us. We’re unique in Is­rael.”

The nine Ap­ples are, de­cides Halevy, “pretty sec­u­lar”, al­though for Purim they “like to go that ex­tra mile. Our shows have a big party vibe for that one. We go a bit crazy.”

They tend not to dis­cuss their Jewish iden­tity, mainly be­cause they feel they do not need to. “It’s less of a spo­ken thing in Is­rael than if you’re part of a mi­nor­ity in the di­as­pora. We are who we are, all from Is­rael.”

Ac­tu­ally, two of them now live in Brook­lyn, New York, which means, says Halevy, that “we’re not ac­tive 24/7. We come to­gether three or four times a year. If we have ideas for songs we might write a quick chart or sketch it out then email it. The rest of the band live in Is­rael and so meet up once a week. Ideas get picked up there.”

The Ap­ples have known each other for the best part of a decade, and been a band for about five years. Their modus operandi has re­mained con­sis­tent, al­though they be­gan sam­pling from dusty old soul and funk vinyl al­bums while more re­cently they have been us­ing snip­pets from a wider range of records, in­clud­ing old blues, a cap­pella, Moroc­can and classical ones. “Once re­con­tex­tu­alised,” says Halevy, “any­thing can sound funky.”

Ac­cord­ing­tothe­drum­mer,whatThe Ap­ples do is less of a po­lite fu­sion than a vi­o­lent clash of cul­tures and mu­sics — “a loud meet­ing of gen­res and eras”, as he puts it. As a con­se­quence, they have a broad fan­base. “They come from all walks of life,” he says, “and the age range is very large. We get funk-heads and peo­ple from the outer edge of jazz, as well as kids into punk and hard­core, and a lot of break­dancers as well. In Is­rael there are just as many sub­cul­tural groups as in Lon­don.”

One of their songs is a cover ver­sion of Killing In The Name, the first sin­gle by rad­i­cal US rap-metal politi­cos Rage Against The Ma­chine. But Halevy does not agree that The Ap­ples’ in­ten­sity is born of a sim­i­lar seething dis­con­tent at the state of things. “There are few or no po­lit­i­cal ref­er­ences in our mu­sic, and we don’t re­flect what’s hap­pen­ing in Is­rael,” he says. “You can’t ig­nore what’s go­ing on, but we’re all very peace­ful. We rep­re­sent the peo­ple in Is­rael who just want to have a good time.” The Jewish Com­mu­nity Cen­tre for Lon­don is host­ing a per­for­mance by The Ap­ples at Cargo, Lon­don EC2 on Mon­day Novem­ber 19. For de­tails visit jc­clon­don. org.uk or call 020 7431 9866

The Ap­ples: “At Purim we have a big party vibe for that one. We go a bit crazy,” says drum­mer Yoni Halevy

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.