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Daphna Sadeh: Through Walls

By Published: June 3, 2009

AAJ: Coming back to the album, Reconciliation, there's a real mixture of music which gels very well, and to my ears the music sounds predominantly Jewish; is that a label that you identify with your music?

DSN: Not necessarily, but I have to say that because the CD was commissioned by John Zorn for his label, and his label has different categories.

If I record another CD for him I'll probably do it differently. It was my first experience with him. He's a very nice person but not easy to work with in the sense that he really knows what he wants. He wanted to hear and approve every single track of the CD so it was quite a difficult process really.

AAJ: Did you have to exclude some of the music that you would have liked to include on the CD?

DSN: Yeah, he rejected I think the best piece. I don't think there was a logical reason for that, I don't know what the reason was but he rejected it. But that's life. It was a good experience for me not to let my ego work, you know. OK, if that's what you want that's what you get.

AAJ: I don't know very much about the label, Tzadik, other than it's John Zorn's and that it's a non-profit label, is that right?

DSN: Well, they sell CDs but I don't know if they sell all the CDs they are releasing. I think he himself sells a lot of CDs and he makes a lot of music for films and I think that's how he makes his money. He actually commissioned the CD. It's not a commercial record label in that sense; he's the director and he knows exactly what he wants.

AAJ: Your CD Reconciliation comes under Zorn's record label category of Radical Jewish Culture; do you see yourself or your music as radical in any way?

DSN: Not at all, and that's what I told him, I said, "Listen, it's not me to try to do radical music." There was a point after he rejected that track, the first track I sent him and I said: "John, it's OK if we're not going to continue; that's what I am and I have to be loyal to myself. I'm not going to produce music that I'm not happy with so if you don't like the style I won't be offended, we'll just call it off." But he said, "No, no no, I want you to continue."

Then I sent him the rest and now he just loves it. When he called it "radical" he kind of narrowed the options; maybe he should have called it differently, some other name which is less of a title and more open because I'm not avant-garde. I used to play avant-garde jazz but it's not my style, I'm not interested in that. I just want to make music that will come into the hearts of people. That's it. Even if it's happy or sad it doesn't matter but when people listen to it they feel some emotion because to me that is music. It communicates on that level. So he (Zorn) loved the music but it's definitely not radical.

AAJ: It seems like a very strange name for a record label category; I associate radicalism in most shapes and forms as something OTT, something perhaps even negative, and to put "Radical" in front of "Jewish" is not going to do this music any favors, in my opinion, in trying to promote it around the world.

DSN: It's not going to help, yeah. He's used this label "Radical" for quite a few years , at least since the '90s you know, and he's managing to do whatever he wants so I guess he knows what he's doing.

AAJ: I guess he does. Let's talk a little about the musicians on Reconciliation. . It's a tremendous ensemble. How did you all come together?

Daphna Sadeh NeuDSN: Well, I basically found them all. [laughs] As soon as I came to the UK, I started to look for musicians. I didn't know anyone here in the UK, apart from Asaf Sirkis

Asaf Sirkis
Asaf Sirkis
and I knew Gilad Atzmon
Gilad Atzmon
Gilad Atzmon

a little bit from Israel, but I didn't have any contact with him and I don't have any contact with him now. So I started looking for musicians and the group changed until I found musicians I was really happy to work with. Stewart Curtis is one of the first musicians I worked with and for me he is really a friend, not just a musician I work with. He's the heart and soul of this group. And I think he feels very strongly a part of it for he's Jewish himself and I think there's a very strong connection for him as well.

AAJ: His clarinet playing is beautiful, as is his flute playing which I would like to have heard more of.

DSN: He plays saxophone as well. It's funny because we experimented at the beginning and quite quickly I realized that saxophone was not the right instrument. Also, at the beginning he played a very klezmer-like sound; you see, he wasn't exposed to world music or Middle Eastern music at all before, and then I played him some Turkish sounds and he started changing his sound. And he got this dark sound on the clarinet which he didn't have before. Before his sound was very high and klezmery, and now he can produce this really Turkish sound; it's quite amazing.

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