Jazzman always ready for a challenge

By Graham Reid

Guitarist's smooth way of playing has come about from dabbling in many styles.

Albare is coming here on the back of his Long Way album. Photo / Supplied
Albare is coming here on the back of his Long Way album. Photo / Supplied

While it would be possible to talk to Melbourne's Albert Dadon about his business interests, the political and cultural links he vigorously promotes between the governments of Australia and Israel, or even his philanthropic activities, that's not what we're here for.

Dadon, who goes by the stage name of Albare, is a jazz guitarist whose star has been quietly ascending for the past five years and now he's on the credible American label Enja.

Moroccan-born Albare delivers a smooth and fluid style of guitar playing which has drawn comparisons with George Benson and Wes Montgomery ("if there's no sense of melody there's no point") but, by his own admission, he came to that sound after years in other styles. And it all began when his mother bought him a guitar when he was 8 and living in Israel, and she tried to get him interested in classical playing.

"But it was boring. We moved to France when I was about 10 and around 12 I discovered the guitar meant freedom, long hair and rock'n'roll. So I played in rock bands and later it was jazz-rock, and later again it was jazz.

In the late 60s it was always Jimi Hendrix, you couldn't touch a guitar and not refer to him, Jimi."

By the end of the 70s he "fell into funk" after being inspired by French jazz-fusion and funk band Magma helmed by drummer Christian Vander. "What I liked about funk was the groove. My fellow musicians I was playing with were too much into the swinging thing and not enough into the dancing thing. I wanted to have music that was really groovy. Christian Vander was unbelievable and making the whole thing groove."

After emigrating to Australia 25 years ago and chart success on Triple J with his band which connected across to rap and employed drum machines, he went back to using real musicians but then got diverted into the business end of jazz.

In the 2000s he chaired the Melbourne Jazz Festival, was instrumental in bringing the Umbria Jazz Festival to the city and in 2008 was given the Order of Australia for his services to the arts.

Then the stage called again: "I decided I wanted to do an album every year for the next 10 years. I've done an album a year since then and just recorded a new one in January in New York. That will be released in June in the States."

He is coming to Auckland and Wellington on the back of his Long Way album which features seasoned American players including tenor saxist George Garzone, and one of the world's finest harmonica players, Hendrik Meurkens.

But for this tour he's out with yet another line-up. Even so, it's a challenge for him in this country where he's hardly known.

"In the jazz world you don't wait to be known to go somewhere, if you did you wouldn't go anywhere. You need to make the first move."

Music profile

Who: Australian jazz guitarist Albare

Where: Ilott Theatre, Wellington, April 3; Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland, April 4.

Trivia: Albare is married to Debbie Besen, daughter of billionaire Mark Besen who owns a substantial property development company and the Sussan clothing chain.

- NZ Herald

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