Harold Rubin & Ophir Ilzetzki

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Released 05/13/2016
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Israel Harold Rubin FearlessOn Israel’s independence day (God
knows of who), Experimental Israel had the rare treat to meet with a true titan
of improvisation in our parts  -
the clarinettist, Harold Rubin. Rubin, celebrating his 84th birthday
a day after our interview, is hailed by several generations of improvisers and
jazz musicians in Israel as a true inspiration and mentor. A native of South Africa, Rubin is
still more comfortable with communication in English, and so we have the rare
opportunity of presenting to you, our listeners, the complete interview without
summing up a thing. However, I would like to take this opportunity to simply
share my personal thoughts on my meeting with this wonderful man. As we planned our session, it became
clear that Rubin was aching to simply get into the studio and play. It was my
manager and friend, Daniel Meir - the executive producer of Halas Radio, whom
at some point prompted me to finish the setup as soon as I can and simply get
on with it, as it was clear that Rubin was getting restless. Not being an
improviser, I approach this practice with a feeling of trepidation, and yesterday
was no different. I was not intending on playing at all that day, but at a
certain point, realizing that Rubin would very much like to play in ensemble,
invited Daniel to join me and together create a makeshift trio for our show. In
an act of chance, Daniel’s instrument simply didn’t work, and suddenly I found
myself in a position where I am to improvise with Harold Rubin, on my own,
right now! On suggesting to Harold that we
start playing, he simply picked up his instrument and got to it. He wasn’t
interested whether I was ready, or whether the microphones were on – he simply
started playing. It was a true lesson in jovial freedom. Immediately I
understood why so many musicians love playing with Harold – he simply wants to
play, and as soon as he seems to have finished a substantial musical moment
that could potentially call the session to an end, he started initiating the
next moment. This was a true lesson at “taking it easy”. It’s as if his entire
approach was “who cares if everybody listens or no one at all – we’re searching
for something together and having fun. If it comes, great, if not, great!
During our short interview I too noticed that Rubin, albeit answering my
questions politely, was actually waiting for us to continue playing. It was so
wonderfully strange to see an 84-year-old man aching to get back into it as if
on the brink of an imminent discovery, vis-à-vis a 37-year-old man trying to
postpone that moment as much as possible although the greater opportunity was obviously
mine!At the end of our second improv
session and the conclusion of our show, I asked Harold how he manages to be so
cool about playing? I mentioned that coming from a very stuffy classical
tradition, I still find it very hard to let go and accept the fact that in
improv I have no control over the outcome. I mentioned that I feel this fear,
in some ways, confines me. Rubin’s simple response was: “This is who you are
right now, so try to use the fear”. One simple sentence, containing so much
truth, and probably the most useful lesson I have received regarding
improvisation to date.  

For the complete program with Harold
Rubin please follow this link:

Instrumental Yes