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Going with the flow in the studio

Rafi Malkiel’s latest CD, “Water,” was not only inspired by the titular element, but actually incorporates H2O as an instrument in the ensemble.

Rafi Malkiel’s latest CD, “Water,” was not only inspired by the titular element, but actually incorporates H2O as an instrument in the ensemble. “I was always fascinated with water,” says the Israeli-born, New York-based trombonist. “The big treat would be to go on the weekend to the beach or a lake, and I remember I was messing around while swimming, just tapping on the water, and I thought, ‘Hey, that sounds kinda good.’”

The result of that inspiration — with drummers tapping on a tub of water and Malkiel playing the “aguaphonium,” a hose attachment from his trombone into the tub — will be showcased onstage at World Cafe Live as part of the third annual Israeli JazzPhest, a week-long, three-venue showcase of expats thriving in the U.S. jazz scene.

Released on saxophonist John Zorn’s Tzadik label, Malkiel’s “Water” incorporates influences from the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe and the Caribbean — appropriately enough for the son of Moroccan-born Israeli immigrants playing jazz in America. “Zorn and I had a bit of an argument because I showed him some ideas and he said, ‘There’s a lot of different stuff there,’” Malkiel recalls. “And I told him, ‘Well, Jewish people are coming from everywhere, as well.’”