Music is often riddled with a ton of metaphors and synonyms. But none will bring as much flavour to the music palette as Israeli band Katamon Cherry.
Bringing together an amorphous recipe of a dash of mid swing jazz, a few tablespoons of grunge, a bowl of alternative rock, a hint of Ethiopian grooves and the atmosphere of Jerusalem’s market place topped with a cinematic cherry, the quartet was in the city recently for a tasteful concert at BFlat and an interactive workshop at Bangalore School of Music as part of the 14th East West Music & Dance Encounter.
Comprising Elad Gellert on saxophone, Adam Weingrod on guitar, David Michaeli on bass and Haim Peskoff on drums, the four member menu of multi-cultural influences share a deep connect with India.
They chorus: “We all love Indian music.” Adam adds: “We respect it from a distance since it’s so complicated and challenging. We do incorporate a few rhythmic ideas and make it our own.” Haim pitches in with a grin: “In very small bites. Indian music is very inspiring but scary to play.”
While it’s the first time for the band, Adam has visited the country several times. “For me it’s a special place to come and play music. I remember it was a dream come true when I landed here the first time.”
David adds his two bits: “I love it. It’s special and spiritual.”
On what inspired their band name, Elad explains that it is the name of the neighbourhood he and Haim grew up in. “It’s a neighbourhood in Jerusalem. Cherry is the extra flavour, taste, or colour we add. It’s a recipe. It’s flavourful and something you can taste. Katamon Cherry in Jerusalem is like Indiranagar Gulab Jamun in Bangalore.”
Haim adds that it’s also to encourage the idea of allowing many things to influence them. “Our music draws from a variety of styles and cultures. It’s a beautiful thing to appreciate art from all over the world.”
Their approach to music is simple. Haim says: “We try to keep an open mind and let things take us through.”
When people listen to them, the band hopes that they will take back a good experience. “If our music does something to you, generates any kind of reaction, we are happy and achieved our purpose,” elaborates Adam.
On their potpourri of music styles, he says: “Since we come from a background of jazz musicians, we are improvisers at heart.” Haim adds: “The underlying principle is that even though our songs are different we ensure there is improvisation and group dynamics. There is a lot of interaction happening in the band.”
Elad points out that all of them bring their own voice to the songwriting process. “Israel is very rich and diverse and our music reflects that.”
To people attending the workshop and aspiring musicians, Katamon Cherry has a simple recipe for success. “Have the courage to trust your own aesthetic and mess around,” says Haim while David emphasises that they listen to their own voice and Elad sums up: “Play with your music and feel free to experiment.”