By ALAN SMASON, Exclusive to the CCJN
The Hazelnuts, a close harmony vocal group from Israel, has New Orleans to thank for their unique sound. Years ago they were looking for a group they could emulate and discovered vintage film recordings of the Boswell Sister, three young siblings from New Orleans via YouTube.
The Boswells’ jazz-influenced sound of the late 1920s and early 1930s was claimed by the Andrews Sisters to be their biggest influence when they hit it big less than a decade later. Ella Fitzgerald, considered one of the greatest female jazz vocalists of all time, also claimed that lead singer Connee Boswell was her biggest inspiration too.
And so, the sound that emanated from New Orleans and lighted upon Israel via the Internet makes a return appearance in the city of its birth Due to the weather conditions expected to coincide with the landfall of Hurricane Nate, the trio’s original date as the headliners for the JCC’s Succot celebration at the Uptown JCC has been rescheduled from Sunday afternoon to Monday evening at 7:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.
The last time The Hazelnuts were in New Orleans, the three vocalists from Israel were doing America on the cheap, booking rooms at AirBnB and hoping to keep the costs of meals to a minimum. At that time, they were based in Jerusalem, having just graduated from the Jerusalem Academy of Music. They appeared in New Orleans over WYES-TV’s “Steppin’ Out” program on which CCJN editor Alan Smason appears on the weekly panel as the theatre critic.
The trio was then composed of Shira Z. Carmel, Yifeat Ziv and Talya Amzaleg, the only non-Jerusalmite in the group. Both Carmel and Ziv moved to Tel Aviv after graduation and when they did, Amzaleg was unable to accompany them.
Now the trio is completed by Anat Moshkowzki, another attractive brunette, who also calls Tel Aviv home.
While the Hazelnuts were without musical backing in 2014, they will be bringing with them a six-piece ensemble of jazz musicians who will help to enhance the vocals. The tour is taking in major music venues in an expanded tour of the United States.