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Gilad and All That Jazz – Everything Happens to Him – Movie Review


Gilad and All That Jazz is an outstanding documentary by G. Kolahi, which presents in only a little over one hour Gilad Atzmon’s evolution as a jazz musician, thinker, writer, humanist, ethicist and, frankly, phenomenon that in a relatively short time has managed not only to become known as one of the best saxophone players on the jazz scene today but also to stir passions and heated debates all over the world on the subjects of Palestinian rights and Jewish identity politics.

There are great jazz musicians and there also are well-known writers and advocates of human rights, but not in one package and not with the quality of a lightning rod that Gilad seems to have. His book “The Wandering Who?” in which he develops the concept of Jewish identity politics and dissects the inherent problems for Jews and the cultures and groups they interact and collide with has attracted praise from distinguished academics and intellectuals like Mearscheimer, Falk, Pilger, Boyle, Mezvinsky, Qumsiyeh, Bricmont and others, but also activated a vilification response of rarely seen aggressiveness on both sides of the Atlantic, including the accusation of “anti-semitism.”

The film does not quote the by now well-known accolades of the former but does give plenty of footage to the latter, which amounts to giving them enough rope to stridently hang themselves. Some of them provide a measure of comic relief, like the self-professed pro-Palestinian rights BDS zionist who says Gilad’s ideas are “dangerous for young Palestinians” and that…

We are in  a position to say what criticism of Israel is kosher and how Israel should be criticized.

The interviews with his parents, his wife and his close musical collaborators, and in particular Gilad’s own poignant reminiscences of his road to ethical awareness and growth create a very moving and intimate portrait of the complex and powerful personality of the artist and thinker.

What the film does exceptionally well, by seamless juxtaposition of concert scenes and interviews (all the credit goes to R. Ribeiro for superb editing), is to to convey the sense of the organic whole that the music and the ethical quest represent for Gilad. The idea is introduced from the first images: the Palestinian children wounded and the cleaning of the saxophone. It was music that led Gilad on his road, and his obvious happiness while he plays is infectious.

The scoring of the movie — Gilad’s pieces with middle-eastern influences as well as classic Charlie Parker standbys — is jazz at its best and a delight throughout the film. He reminisces that in his adolescence, having first heard the Bird on the radio and then discovered that he was black, he thought to himself:

Black?! Maybe he is a Black Jew.

Perhaps somewhere up there the Bird hears Gilad’s sax and wonders:

A Jew?! Maybe he is a Black Jew.

One of his detractors, a British “anti-zionist zionist” (a category Gilad has pinned with precision like a bug in a display case), or maybe a zionist, they are hard to tell apart, says at one point in the film something to the effect that “he could have just been a famous jazz musician but it wasn’t enough for his ego. He wanted to be larger than life.”  Indeed, why wasn’t it enough? He misses a major and paradoxical difference between Gilad and himself, namely the significance of Gilad being a sabra. Born and raised in Israel in a family of devoted zionists, raised to be a proud jewish warrior, Gilad acquired the kind of total self-confidence in his “chosenness” that admits no vacillation, no subterfuges or hypocritical manipulations. His self-confidence was such that he was not afraid to peer inside himself and to examine the culture around him with a critical eye, question the given dogma and even upend it,  without fear of dissolving. “Larger than life?” I like one of the Blockheads’ description of him as a musician better, and it applies to all his other work as well, as the panicked reactions of his detractors show:

A colossus of a player, quite frightening in a way, really.

A movie to see more than once and recommend to one’s friends as well.


Tickets for the London Opening night…

14 Responses to Gilad and All That Jazz – Everything Happens to Him – Movie Review

  1. Lasse Wilhelmson May 25, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

    Gilad is liberating our thoughts with his words and our hearts with his music …

    Thanks Ariadna for a very nice and “on the spot” presentation – I dare say before seeing the documentary.

  2. who_me May 25, 2012 at 8:56 pm #

    i love this line from the review:

    “One of his detractors, a British “anti-zionist zionist” (a category Gilad has pinned with precision like a bug in a display case), or maybe a zionist, they are hard to tell apart”


  3. searching May 26, 2012 at 1:53 am #

    Nice review.
    I prefer it over the one from a couple of days ago ,in which the author seemed to make an impression that Gilad is considered to be an “ugly” anti-Semite by the Left, Right, Center and all the stars in the Universe.
    Gilad looks quite elegant in this photo as well. But this is just btw. 🙂

  4. searching May 26, 2012 at 2:10 am #

    Out of curiosity ,that supposedly killed a cat ,who said: “We are in a position to say what criticism of Israel is kosher and how Israel should be criticized”.????

    • Ariadna Theokopoulos May 26, 2012 at 2:21 am #

      Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi

      • searching May 26, 2012 at 3:13 am #

        Hm, interesting. So this AZZ of a women wants to blame “Western Colonialism” for the whole mess that the Jewish Power caused/is causing in the Palestine, Middle East and majority of the globe??
        Yeah, let’s just play around the bush and pretend like we don’s see a big, scary Jewish man sitting in it. Let’s just call him a “western colonizer” instead ,so we are not accused of anti-Semitism, and the big, scary man won’t be upset.
        We don’t want him to be upset.
        We really care not to hurt his feeeeelings. Are we really with this man or against him?? We don’t really know it ( or at least we won’t say it out loud), but for sure, we don’t want to upset him.
        “Western colonialism”… what a joke.
        That’s why Omar B was harping on the “white race as the source of all the evil on earth”.
        So this is their new agenda.
        Blame “western collonialism” or “white man”.
        That’s the rhetoric of the Traitors.
        They want to shift the blame on something/somebody else, take it away from the source and accuse wrong people.
        They want Arab/Muslim population direct their anger on “white race” ,”western Colonialism” etc. because, again, it diverts the attention from the real perpetrators that is the Jewish Power Elite aided by corrupted shabas goyim.

    • Gilad Atzmon May 26, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

      Yep, it is all down to the Js to decide,,,what a miserable statement. No wonder why this tribal campaigner opposes me…?

  5. Ariadna Theokopoulos May 26, 2012 at 2:30 am #

    Of all the interviews with and articles about Gilad I have ever read this remains my favorite:

    It was published by Haaretz in 2010.
    The Wandering Who? appeared in 2011.
    I doubt Haaretz would publish an article like that today.

    • Gilad Atzmon May 26, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

      I wouldn’t be surprised. I ve many followers in Israel and more than a few people who try to get The Wandering Who published in Hebrew…

  6. Gilad Atzmon May 26, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

    Ariadna, tx for the beautiful words.

    • Ariadna Theokopoulos May 26, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

      Thanks for everything you do.