Monday, April 30, 2007

Harmony Trumps Melody (Etz Chaim vs. Im Eshkacheich)

I played a bunch of Yom Ha'atzmaut gigs last week. Several of these were for schools. I've discovered that at many schools they are singing the melody to Im Eshkacheich (the R' Mottel Twersky version) wrong. Specifically, these groups have adapted the first few bars of the B section so that they sound like the B section of Etz Chaim (the Tanchum Portnoy version).

They sing the words "Im Lo Aa'leh Es Yerushalayim" to the melody used for "D'racheha Darchei Noam".

I suspect it's because of a background choral part they've heard/learned. Ironic, since the melody of Etz Chaim as it is popularly sung in shuls has also evolved from the original. I suspect that a harmony part was the cause in that case too.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

4/29/07 Link Dump

Here's an important article about DRM: "Criminalising the consumer." (Via Instapundit.)

Peter Kirn writes "May 15 Could be End of Internet Radio."

"'Monster Mash' Singer Bobby 'Boris' Pickett Dies at 69." I'm awaiting the Country Yossi Magazine obituary. CY owes him one.

For heimishe-circuit saxophonists; "Saxophone Special Effects."

Hey, they're making a movie about the klezmer cruise.

I didn't know Keith Emerson was Russian.

THE LIFE-OF-RUBIN BLOG links to an acapella version of Piamenta's "Siman Tov" performed by Avi Piamenta. He also links to a NY Post profile of Issac Bitton.

MO Chassid posts a CD update. He also rants about "Hosu Lashem."

Hirhurim posts about "Takanos and Korbanos."

The Washoington Post asked violinist Jonathan Bell to busk in the metro. Here's what happened.

Y-love on his Yom Ha'atzmaut gig...

It's the Baby Grand Master!

Aryeh reviews AKA Pella 2.

Jew School posts some Yom Hashoa hip-hop by Subliminal and Miri Ben Ari.

Here's Ornette Coleman's Lifetime Achievement Acceptance Speech.

DovBear posts a "Jewish Guitar Hero.

Here's the Jerusalem Post on pianist Uri Caine.

Ben Jacobson reviews discs by Asaph Neve Shalom and Sam Glaser. Also David Ross.

The Forward profiles Rav Shmuel.

Michael Brecker's last album will be released next month. You can hear some clips at the above link.

Here's a song about the mitzvah to say 100 brachos a day!

Mazal Tov to Pete Sokolow on being named to the People's Hall of Fame.

A Simple Jew posts "Question & Answer With Shlomo Katz - A Musician During Sefira."

The Jerusalem Post profiles bassist Eli Magen.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Hachnasas Kallah

Aidel Maidel is getting married. Making a wedding and setting up a new home are expensive. (It's more than just hiring a good band.) You can fulfill the mitzvah of Hachnasas Kallah and show your appreciation for her blog here.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Voices for Israel releases "Keeping The Faith"

Yom Ha'atzmaut is coming up. Here's some info about a new Voices for Israel benefit CD, "Keeping the Faith", to raise funds to aid survivors of terrorism and war in Israel.
About the CD

VOICES FOR ISRAEL: KEEPING THE FAITH unites over 100 women from four continents, joining their voices for Israel. This ambitious double album and video brings together Jewish women of all backgrounds, from all over the world, to support Israel.

As with Voices For Israel's tremendously successful debut album, “Chazak Amenu: We Stand As One,” the objective of KEEPING THE FAITH is to express support for, and solidarity with, the people of Israel during these trying times, and to promote a global sense of Jewish unity and community.

VOICES FOR ISRAEL: KEEPING THE FAITH is a historic 2-CD compilation of 40 songs, in English and Hebrew, relating to Israel, Jewish unity and the enduring hope for peace. The CD set also includes an uplifting music video – put the CD in your computer and watch! – in addition to an informative 20-page booklet packed with full color photos of Israel. Profits benefit survivors of terrorism and war in Israel.

The title track is the brand new all-star anthem, “Keeping the Faith.” Recorded by dozens of today’s popular female Jewish Music artists (see the full list on the Artists page), this rousing English/Hebrew anthem and the accompanying music video pay tribute the the strength of Jewish women throughout history.

The second anthem, “Land of Your Heart,” is an evocative reminder of our unique relationship with the land of Israel, and our constant yearning to return to her borders.

The performers have all donated their time and their songs, an outstanding mix of classic favorites, as well as debut tracks that are sure to become classics. All of the songs center on the themes of Voices For Israel - solidarity, unity, hope and peace.

The VOICES FOR ISRAEL: KEEPING THE FAITH 2-CD set is on sale at Judaica stores everywhere. Domestic retail distribution is being provided by Sameach Music at

Voices For Israel is also partnering with Jewish schools, youth groups, synagogues, camps and other organizations to sell CDs in their communities as a joint fundraiser.
Buy this CD! Support female JM artists and do a mitzvah at the same time.

From the mailbag...

Julie writes:
why did you review Heedoosh's album now? it can hardly be called "new" as it's been out for quite a while... just curious.
I reviewed the Heedoosh CD now because their publicist sent me a copy recently. I’d been trying to get it done before Pesach, but didn’t get to it in time.

Sruly Meyer forwards a link to an AIM chat he had with Jordan Gorfinkel:
I think it's a very good read, your readers would certainly enjoy it!

An Interview On The History and The Story Behind Jewish A Cappella .
Menachem comments on Heedoosh:
purim song is a rip-off of the Beatles "for the benefit of mr kite"...that said, it is still a great song, i.e. the ripped-off song is part of the meaning
Speaking of, KFAR's Adam Davis writes that "Heedoosh is playing a show for me this Monday for Yom Haatz. The info is up at KFAR's website."If you're in Chi-town, you might want to check it out.

Rhondda writes:
I can comment briefly on the "7/8 Kohen" --
always interesting to be in a new shul for one's first chaggim... well, I was in this shul in the fall but I don't remember the duchanning then... Anyway, these blokes (bless'em) -- one of 'em knew an old tune -- maybe his dad sang it -- but evidently his dad sang it at least a perfect 4th below this fellow's real range... but that didn't stop him from singing it... there... not in his real range... and the other handful of kohanim really, bravely, tried to fall in.... it took the 2nd time for them to realize, "oh, yeah, he wants to sing that one," and then drag their poor voices down to the cellar to join him...

Sunday, April 15, 2007

In review – Heedoosh: Meumkah Delibah

In the mail... Heedoosh's debut disc "Meumkah Delibah".

In their press kit, Heedoosh claim their music is "a completely unique style." They also describe their music as "Songs... of breathtaking beauty and complexity, rooted in sacred text and combined with contemporary verses gilded with a true rock edge influenced by Stone Temple Pilots, Radiohead, Coldplay and Oasis - a mix of hard rock and Brit-pop with Hebrew lyrics and Jewish themes." Completely unique, yet derivative! I see. In short, Heedoosh plays Jewish alt-rock.

On this recording, for the most part, the backing music is all performed by producer Eli Massias with Ari Leichtberg contributing drums on most of the tracks. The album feels more like a concept demo than a band project, although it still sounds pretty good. "Dos pop" vocalist turned" J-alt rocker" Yaniv Tsaidi sings all of the songs. (As a side note, I caught Tsaidi's set with his alt/brit-pop cover band, Rocking Chair, w/Blue Fringe's Avi Hoffman a few months back in NYC. This is obviously a style he relates to well.) Massias' arrangements and production capture many of the stereotypes of the genre including the vocal processing. The musicians are good players and Tsaidi is a strong vocalist. Now that Heedoosh has added some musicians, namely bassist Gary Levitt and second guitarist Yoshie Fruchter, I'm interested in seeing how the band develops their concept.

About the tunes...

Album opener Etz Hayim sound like what you might get if Stone Temple Pilots wrote Jewish music. Lev Tahor starts off softly and slowly shifts into an increasingly heavier groove starting about halfway through. The punk-influenced Purim Song is a lot of fun. Lishuatcha's loop-based groove is interesting, but the track's groove seems out-of-place relative to the rest of the tracks. Lecha Dodi is an interesting track that takes advantage of Tsaidi's Yemenite vocals and the percussion contibute to create an interesting Middle-Eastern/alternative hybrid.

If you like alt-rock ala Radiohead and Stone Temple Pilots, and you're looking for a Jewish flavored version of the same, you might want to check out Heedoosh. The CD is available through their website.

Friday, April 13, 2007

From the mailbag... (Pesach Peeps edition)

Dan Saks writes:
I've got a Sephardic rock band called DeLeon with a big show coming up at Bowery Ballroom on the 19th of April. I've attached a press release in case you'd be interested in writing a post about it. I'd love to get a little buzz going, as that's to be our first show and we're pretty excited about the possibilities. Feel free to email me with any questions and thanks for your time!
Here's the release:
The music of the NYC band DeLeon has been a long time in the making. Their songs were birthed in Spain before the inquisition, were raised in Italy before WWII and have now reached maturity in modern day Brooklyn. Named for front man Dan Saks' great grandfather Giorgio DeLeon, the band was conceived to reconcile the cultural journey his family tree had experienced over the course of centuries. By re-imagining these ancient melodies as contemporary songs, DeLeon intends to introduce the rich musical tradition of Sephardic Jews to a new generation.

Their journey will officially begin April 19th at Bowery Ballroom where they will play their first ever show. They share the bill with JDub Recording artists Balkan Beat Box and Golem, two other bands that add a modern edge to rich musical traditions. Listen to the new sound of Sephardic music at
E's been monitoring things while we were on break and forwards several links.

First, congrats to one of our readers, Mordechai Shinefield on winning the "I'm From Rolling Stone" writing contest.

Next up is a post by Still Wonderin': "Did Eli Gerstner Phone it In?"

JDub is looking for artists for its Summer compilation. The deadline for submissions is this Monday, April 16th.

Psachya writes:
Just got back from my Pesach hotel gig, & thought I'd pass this along. (I guess this lady's a Peep, though I have no idea how to classify her.) To set the scene: I'm set up in the hotel lobby, ready to do a kiddie show, and I have the following conversation with an elderly lady:
Me: "Actually, I'm about to play a children's show."
Me: "I'm about to play a kids' show, for the day camp."
Me (in E.L.'s ear): "I'm playing a children's show! A CHILDREN'S SHOW!!!"
Honestly. You can't make these things up.
I have a few too from my Pesach hotel experience.

"The 7/8 Kohen"

The "7/8 Kohen" is also the "Loudest Kohen" and the "Can't Carry a Tune In A Bucket Kohen". He sings the melody of Bircas Kohanim in 7/8. Consistently. Not that he knows it, though. This guy singlehandedly butchers what would otherwise be a meaningful and beautiful moment. You can have a "Loudest Kohen" or a "Can't Carry a Tune In A Bucket Kohen" who isn't a 7/8 Kohen", but the "7/8 Kohen" is always also both a "Loudest Kohen" and a "Can't Carry a Tune In A Bucket Kohen".

"The Abusive Father"
This is the guy who has no problems shaming his kid in public at top volume. Inevitably, we wind up behind him either in the shul or on line for various events at the hotel. In addition to the emotional abuse he seems to endlessly dish out to his kids, he's also often violent, grabbing his kid roughly and shaking him/her.

"The Gotta Get Right Out of Here Folks"
These are the folks who head up to their rooms after mincha on the last day of Pesach to pack so that they can beat the rush leaving the hotel. They're on the road before havdallah is finished.

"The Gym Rats"
These women head up to their rooms after mincha to change into snoods, T-shirts, long skirts, and sneakers so that they can jump on the treadmills in the hotel's fitness center as soon as Yom Tov is over. They're on the treadmills walking furiously the second havdallah ends.

The "Buffet-lo"
Spends 24/7 at the buffet. The 'Buffet-lo" is omnipresent at the buffet and/or tea room. No additional explanation needed.

Which leads me to a sociological discovery I made this Pesach...

I call it the "Buffet Theory." The "Buffet Theory" states that if you have food no sane person would ever eat, if you serve it in a buffet to Jews, they'll not only eat it, they'll stand in line for half-hour to do so. On rare occasions, there is some food (i.e. gristly meat, spongy turkey, etc.) that the "Buffet Theory" might seem not to cover. In those cases though, the "Buffet Theory" applies provided said food is served at a carving station. In fact, if you serve it at a carving station, the "Buffet-los" will not only eat it, they'll quickly clean their plates while standing right there, so that they can take doubles without having to wait on line again.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Pre-Pesach Links

Tonic is closing this month. It's a shame! Their programming had shifted away from Jewish music in recent years, but for a long time, they were the home to the Jewish music scene (trad. and contemporary klez/Jewish avante garde and more). I heard many great Jewish bands there including David Krakauer's "Klezmer Madness", Khevrise, Margot Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys, Naftule's Dream, various Zorn projects, and more. Years ago, I took a master class with David Krakauer there.

Ari Davidow has an interesting post up at the Klezmer Shack. Here's a taste:
So, an institution is holding a series of events featuring musicians who represent different parts of the Jewish music community. One of the musicians is a pop musicians of the sort (as near as I can tell) who sets religious poetry to current rock/pop sounds—the sort of thing that the Sephardic piyut writers did a thousand or two years ago in what is now Iraq.

To me, and to the organizers of the event, this was music best described as "Jewish Orthodox pop"—the qualifier added because it is music very much enjoyed by some parts of the halachic community, but which is unknown and generally making no impression outside that large community.

But, of course, I get an angry email, as though I wrote the concert description, demanding that I remove the word "Orthodox." I do as requested, but all the while, I think to myself, "hey turkey, you may want to pretend that this is music that speaks to the larger Jewish community, but it doesn't. So, you have just removed a signifier that will let that part of the community that isn't aware of your music, know that there is a concert of interest.
I see both sides of this one. I think the artist is worried that the label "Orthodox" will turn off potential attendees.

Hirhurim links to a Jewish Week column by Rabbi David Wolpe.
What are we thinking when we send children to parties where there will be drinking, drugs, and people treating their bodies as though they were disposable? Why bring a 10-year-old to a concert where the principle virtue of the performer is that she is scantily dressed and exudes sexual allure?

Parents are the first and most important teachers of their children. So here is a word to teach: NO.
It shouldn't need to be said, but sadly, it does.

Here's a pair o' posts from Life o' Rubin: HASC 19 DVD PULLED FROM JUDAICA SHELVES and Public Service Announcement to Yisroel Williger.

BBspot has obtained the RIAA Lawsuit Decision Matrix.

MOChassid reviews Michael Shapiro's latest.

The Jewish Week reports about Alicia Svigal's curating gig at "The Stone."

Teruah is getting ready for Pesach with children's music!

Finally, Y. Love and Yuri Lane have released a Sefira rap album. It features seven songs with Rhymes and Beat Box only. Listen to a sample track, "Watch", here. You can buy it from Modular Moods here. It's not your mother's AKApella.

Museum of Jewish Heritage Podcast

Nancy-Lauren Raia writes:
Hello! Based on your blog's concentration on Jewish culture and music, I thought you might be interested to receive information on downloading a free podcast of a critically acclaimed performance of 'Babi Yar Remembered: Yevtushenko and Shostakovich in Word and Song.' Please feel free to contact the museum if you have any questions! Enjoy!

It is currently available, just an little tricky to find! Here is the direct link:

Basically, from the main page you click on upcoming events and then there is a navigation on the right sidebar for podcasts. Eventually there will be a link to it from the homepage to make this easier.
Here's the press release she forwarded.
at the Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust

NEW YORK, NY – Starting today, March 30, anyone who visits the website of the Museum of Jewish Heritage —A Living Memorial to the Holocaust ( ) will be able to download the Museum’s commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre, Babi Yar Remembered: Yevtushenko and Shostakovich in Word and Song, which took place in Edmond J. Safra Hall at the Museum on September 27, 2006.

The program, which the New York Times called “an illuminating performance,” featured world-renowned Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko reading his famous poem “Babi Yar,” and internationally celebrated pianists Misha and Cipa Dichter performing the world premiere of the two-piano version of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13. The performance was led by Patrick Gardner and featured bass soloist Valentin Peytchinov, the Riverside Choral Society, Rutgers University Kirkpatrick Choir, and Rutgers University Glee Club. The artistic producer was Stephen Vann.

The podcast was produced by Shalom TV, the first full-time Jewish television network in the United States. It is the first time the Museum has utilized podcast technology to reach a larger audience. The poetry and music can be downloaded separately or together. There is no charge to download the file. A translation of Yevtushenko’s poem is also available for download.

Museum deputy director Ivy Barsky said, “After the critical acclaim of Babi Yar Remembered: Yevtushenko and Shostakovich in Word and Song, the Museum looked for a way to capture the spirit of this commemoration. We are excited that podcast technology will allow visitors to re-live the meaningful sold-out program or to experience it for the first time.”

The Museum offers visitors a vibrant public program schedule in its Edmond J. Safra Hall. In fact, Edmond J. Safra Hall is one of the premiere concert halls in New York City, and the only one to boast a Fazioli piano. For more information on upcoming music programs at the Museum, please visit

The Museum’s three-floor Core Exhibition educates people of all ages and backgrounds about the rich tapestry of Jewish life over the past century--before, during, and after the Holocaust. Current special exhibitions include: From the Heart: The Photojournalism of Ruth Gruber and Daring to Resist: Jewish Defiance in the Holocaust, opening April 16. The Museum is also home to Andy Goldsworthy’s memorial Garden of Stones, as well as James Carpenter’s Reflection Passage, Gift of The Gruss Lipper Foundation. The Museum receives general operating support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and is a founding member of the Museums of Lower Manhattan.