Israeli Jazz Series: Omer Klein, Pianist By Yossi Zwecker

Israeli Jazz Series: Omer Klein, Pianist By Yossi Zwecker

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This photograph is part of Zwecker’s Israeli Jazz Musicians project, in which he sets out to document the great masters of Israeli jazz. While over the past several decadesIsrael has become one of the most innovative exporters of jazz music in the world, there has been almost no documentation of its founding musicians or their younger protégés. Zwecker sees this project as his contribution to the construction of a narrative for Israeli Jazz, and to the effort to bring the vibrant national scene to the fore of public awareness.

Pianist and composer Omer Klein’s music is borderless in its organic assimilation of widely diverse sources of inspiration. Born in Israel with roots in Tunisia, Libya and Hungary, Klein’s compositions fuse together his North African roots with mainstream jazz while integrating futuristic elements. Klein studied jazz and classic piano at the New England Conservatory in Boston before moving to New York to engage with the vibrant jazz scene of the city. Since 2009, he has been living in Frankfurt with his family. Along with fellow Israeli musicians, bassist Haggai Cohen Milo and drummer Amir Bresler, he formed the Omer Klein Trio in 2013. The trio performs Klein’s compositions and tours extensively. Their debut recording, “Fearless Friday” (2015), was praised as “one of the most rewarding piano trio releases of recent years" by leading website All About Jazz. Their 2017 album “Sleepwalkers”, which explores themes related to society in the information age, won the 2018 ECHO award.

This photograph, taken in 2015 during one of Klein’s performances at the Red Sea Jazz Festival, captures an intimate moment of utter immersion. Klein’s hands are flung in the air, caught in a moment of silence bursting with dynamic energy. The lighting highlights the essence of the dialogue between musician and instrument: the keys of the piano on one hand, and Klein’s intense focus, expressed in his face, hands, and posture, on the other; everything else dissolves into a black void. More than just documenting the performance, the photograph draws us into the pianist’s own state of mind, in which everything fades away save the music itself.

Israeli Jazz Series
The Omer Klein, Pianist work is part of Zwecker’s Israeli Jazz Musicians project, in which he set out to document the great masters of Israeli jazz, an older generation that is beginning to disappear. While over the past several decades Israel has become one of the most innovative exporters of jazz music in the world, there has been almost no documentation of its founding musicians. Zwecker sees this project as his contribution to the construction of a narrative for Israeli jazz, and to the effort to bring the vibrant national scene to the fore of public awareness.

The Jazz Series allows Zwecker to fuse together his twin passions for photography and music. He chooses to photograph his subjects in black and white as an homage to the great jazz photographers of the 1940s, creating a dramatic effect while simultaneously plunging the observer into the unique vibe of a packed jazz club. While many other musical genres are often presented in large arenas or concert halls, integral to jazz are the intimate spaces in which it is usually performed and the direct, unmediated relationship between the musician and the audience; a relationship that is a crucial component in the photographer’s subject material.

Yossi Zwecker

Born in Israel in 1965, Yossi Zwecker began his career as a news photographer before specializing in photography of the performing arts. He collaborates extensively with leading Israeli theater companies, dance troupes, and music venues, and currently serves as the house photographer for the Israel Opera House, Tel Aviv Center for Performing Arts, and the Israeli Ballet.
Read more about Yossi here