Israeli Jazz and World Music Festival 2015, Offlines Review - An Evening to Remember

Intrigued with the advertisement for the last night of the Israeli Jazz and World Music Festival 2015, Offlines, my husband and I found our way to the Skylight at Heartwood Center in Evanston. This venue, I was told, has been here for years but it was new to us.  Introducing the concert, Heartwood Center Founder & Director Nancy Floy welcomed the audience saying she was thrilled that her healing center was the site for and international performance and that the music as part of healing. (Heartwood website ) The concert, we agreed, was “ a happening”, a one of a kind blend of talent and energy, a unique experience.


Heartwood Entrance

There were three extremely talented musicians each with different backgrounds and different musical experiences who blended their skills so that the audience remained spellbound.  As the evening progressed, the energy mounted and finally, during a lengthy and spirited encore, some audience members could contain themselves no longer and rose to dance.



The evening was so unusual for us because of the different quality of the jazz sounds.  There were Middle Eastern sounds that formed the basis for the variations and it was fascinating.  And there was a range of instruments that we had never seen before and some we had never heard of before.  For example, how often do you hear an oud?  I have heard the name but have note seen it played live.



Yinon on drums

Who were these remarkable talents?  Note their names carefully. You won’t want to miss hearing them in the future.  Evanston’s own Donavan Mixon lived in Istanbul and there he met Yinon Muallem.  Yinon has performed with Guy Mintus.  And so there were three.


Three geniuses- Donovan Mixon, Yinon Muallem and Guy Mintus

Yinon Muallem was born in Israel in 1968 to parents of Iraqi origin. After earning his bachelor’s degree from the University of Tel Aviv, he found himself drawn to the world of music. Starting with Middle Eastern percussion, he then began learning the oud and composing his own music. His exposure to the beauty of Ottoman Turkish music moved him to study the Turkish oud with master Yurdal Tokcan, and in 2002 he moved to Istanbul and joined the Istanbul Sazendeleri (Istanbul Instrumentalists) ensemble. During his ten years in Istanbul, he conducted a host of inter cultural music projects, taking part in concerts with his group in Israel and arranging joint concerts by Israeli and Turkish musicians in Istanbul. He has collaborated with many musicians, wrote scores for films that were released in Turkey, Israel, Germany and Italy, and released 6 albums of his compostions. The Last album Funky Dervish released in March 2013.


Yinon playing the oud

Guy Mintus just graduated from the Manhatten School of Music.  He is a rising star in Israel – a pianist, improvisor & composer. At 23, Guy has performed on stages such as the Kennedy Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Apollo Theater, Symphony Space, Red Sea Jazz Festival and the Israel Festival with Grammy winning artists such as Howard Levy, Arturo O’Farrill’s Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra as well as Jazz legends Sheila Jordan, Jon Hendricks, Jimmy Owens and more. Guy’s Interest and passion to world music and to connecting people through cultural understanding has led him to interact with masters of several musical traditions: Persian Santur Master Qui Hagigi, Turkish Neyzen Volkan Incüvez, Greek Bouzouki master Yannis Loulourgas  African Kora Icon Yacouba Sissoko, Azerbeijani Kemança Master Arslan Hazreti, Pandit Samir Chatterjee and many more. Guy’s recent awards include 2 'Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award' and the “Fran Morgenstren Davis Scholarship”  by ASCAP as well as two 'Down Beat Magazine Student Awards' for Outstanding Jazz Performance and Arrangement. Recent appearances include a solo concert, the “Mediterranean Piano”, at the International Samos Young Artists Festival, Greece, solo performance hosting the legendary Jon Hendricks at the Toledo Arts Museum and a performance at the Jewish Festival of Boulder, Colorado with the “Offlines Project”, a cross borders ensemble co-led with Turkish - Israeli percussionist, Oudist and composer Yinon Muallem.


Yonan and Guy

Our very own, Donovan Mixon is a guitarist and former Berklee College of Music professor who came to Chicago in 2010 after an extended sojourn in the countries of Italy and Turkey. As a freelance musical artist and music clinician he continues to perform - Chicago Jazz Festival, Umbria Jazz, Istanbul Jazz Festival, Ankara Jazz, Monticello Jazz, Jazz In It, Bodrum Jazz, and conduct music clinics worldwide - Singapore School of the Arts, Central European University -Budapest, Shanghai American School -China, D.A.M.S Bologna, Istanbul Bilgi University.  Check the Donovan Mixon website and you will find amazing things going on locally.



Donovan Mixon

Photos: Courtesy of Donovan Mixon unless otherwise specified





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