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Jazz and world music fans who are enamored of Eden Holan’s perfectly titled new album Irresistible may call the artist innovative, or even revolutionary, for creating the first-ever musical collaboration between an Israeli artist and the native jazz style and rhythms of Reunion, a French island of less than a million inhabitant east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. But for the Paris-born, Tel Aviv raised and based song stylist, it’s simply a mirror of her fascinating life, a natural extension of who she is and what she loves. The 12 track collection is a bold stylistic fusion of jazz, Brazilian, and African grooves sung in Eden’s two native languages, Hebrew and French, as well as Creole, which she has learned over the past few years.
Truly an international affair, Irresistible – featuring nine original songs penned or co-written by Eden among 12 tracks - was recorded in Israel, mixed, mastered and sound engineered in Paris and features many prominent musicians from Israel and New York City, including Israelis Rony Holan (producer, arranger, drums), Arie Volinez (acoustic and electric bass), Gilad Dobrecky (percussion), Avi Lebovich (trombone), and Avi Adrian (piano); and NYC based pianist and backing vocalist Alon Yavnai and trumpeter Michael Rodriguez. The contributions of the album’s sole Reunion Island native, electric bassist and percussionist Jamy Pedro, were recorded at his studio on the island.
Irresistible is the culmination of a fascinating, boundary breaking musical journey that has found Eden working with some of the world’s most renowned musicians and bringing her melodic and rhythmic, sweeping and soulful sound to a multitude of cultures. Her vocal abilities have long been compared to those of legendary icons Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington and her eclectic repertoire includes songs in English, French, Creole, Hebrew and Portuguese. Eden has distinguished herself on the global jazz scene with a unique style that combines jazz roots and harmonies with Brazilian influences and traditional African rhythms.
The thousands of fans who have seen her concerts – from club dates in Israel to international jazz festivals – have experienced more than just a delightful musical experience, but a powerful bridge between cultures. While performing as a solo singer with different ensembles at home, Eden has also headlined shows in China, France, Corsica, Madagascar (Africa), Reunion Island and (a two month tour in the United States. She has also performed in various ceremonies at the Frency Embassy in Israel, in front of the highest authorities of the nation, including several times for Israeli President Shimon Peres.
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Eden’s passion for the music of Reunion Island that fueled her interest in making Irresistible is the fact that she stumbled upon it almost accidentally. In 2008, while she was busy developing a style that would lead to her emergence as one of Israel’s most prominent vocalists and jazz ambassadors, she received a scholarship from the French Embassy to attend the world renowned Jazz in Marciac Festival in Marciac in Southwestern France. Marciac is perhaps the lengthiest jazz festival in the world at three weeks long -- and one of the most popular European based jazz events after Montreux. Walking around and sampling the shows of different performers one night, she came upon a musical vibe that caught her attention immediately – and changed her life forever.
“I was just attending there as a volunteer that year,” she says, “and I felt nourished with a lot of different styles, because the music practically runs 24 hours a day there. I stopped when I heard a group from Reunion Island, led by a pianist who is one of the best known throughout the Indian Ocean region. It was a uniquely rhythmic sound that I had never heard before, a very special mix of jazz harmonies played by amazing musicians. It brought tears to my eyes and caused a serious revolution in me musically and spiritually.
“Because of my French origins and strong relationship to the French culture, I always feel an instant kinship with music that has that as a foundation,” Eden adds. “But the African elements were unbelievable and took it to a whole other place. I was so inspired that when I returned home, I started to write my own music for the first time. The official language of Reunion Island is French, but a lot of natives speak and sing in Reunion Creole. I had no prior connection to the island, but I my fascination inspired me to start learning that dialect. What made me passionate about ultimately doing this project is that the island’s rhythm is so interesting and different. Combine that with a jazz base and there’s a lot of joy and a big celebration of life with interesting musicians from many different cultures.”
When Irresistible was first released in Israel, the Mayor of Marciac became a huge fan of Eden’s and invited her to perform four concerts at the 35th annual run of the festival. While building on the fan base she already had at home, she also became the first Israeli artist to be invited to the annual Madajazzcar Festival in Madagascar. She was also invited by a prominent official from the French Mediterranean island of Corsica to visit there and record with several prominent native musicians and sing in Hebrew on an album recorded by one of the island’s most popular artists.