Sounding Off on Zionism

Whether he’s speaking or playing the sax, Gilad Atzmon is a powerhouse.

When alto saxophonist Gilad Atzmon visited the University of Denver last year, he delivered a powerful performance that combined the intensity of John Coltrane with the speed and dexterity of Charlie Parker. But the Israeli-born Atzmon, who now lives in London, is equally powerful when speaking and writing: He’s one of the world’s most outspoken critics of Zionism, which is readily apparent in his 2004 novel My One and Only Love.

Atzmon will sound off on “The Primacy of the Ear” tonight at 7 p.m. at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street, telling the story of how, after growing up in a rather secular Zionist family, he discovered Charlie Parker’s With Strings at seventeen while preparing for his compulsory service in the Israeli Defense Forces. The album blew him away, inspiring him to buy a saxophone and listen to American jazz legends like Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson and Hank Mobley. “After one month with a saxophone shoved up my mouth,” Atzmon writes, “my Zionist enthusiasm disappeared completely. Instead of flying choppers behind enemy lines, I started to fantasize about living in NYC, London or Paris.”

Atzmon’s appearance is part of ArgusFest, and guests are asked to pay what they can. He’ll be back at the Mercury at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 6, to play his sax; for details on that performance, go to www.mercurycafe.com.
Thu., June 4, 7 p.m., 2009

 
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