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Daphna Sadeh: Through Walls

By Published: June 3, 2009
AAJ: Tell me about your trombonist, Mark Bassey. On the opening track "Queen of Sheeba" that the trombone sounds almost like a tuba in its bass profundity, kind of like the way Rabih Abou-Khalil
Rabih Abou-Khalil
Rabih Abou-Khalil
uses a tuba.

DSN: Yeah. Mark is an incredible musician and an incredible person; his life story is extraordinary. I really admire his abilities, not only his musical abilities but also his personal abilities. He's a well-rounded musician, he's a composer and arranger, you name it. When he's performing his fire is just amazing. I really feel so lucky because not only are they amazing musicians but they are also amazing people. We work to make good music together, but also to have fun together.

AAJ: Turning to your own bass playing, you have a very personal sound. Are you more influenced by musical tradition rather than by any individual musician?

DSN: I think I'm more influenced by individual musicians than by styles. I don't go by the book. For me, playing the bass is about finding my own sound. Why do you ask that?

AAJ: On Reconciliation, your bass playing is not really coming from the jazz idiom, but then again it's not easy to say where it's coming from. It's almost beyond categorization.

DSN: It's true what you say. It comes from the fact that I'm not trying to create one style or another; this CD is not really jazz, it's somewhere in between, more world music with jazz elements.

AAJ: It seems you are much more of an Israeli musician than most of the Israeli musicians who have come to New York in recent years, people like the Cohens whose music is more straight ahead, but your music really represents the cultural diversity of your county.

DSN: That's true, that's a good observation. In America, jazz making is the best because that's their language. You have to grow in it, to live it. It's not my natural language; it's something I've learned. My next CD might be less Jewish but it will always be eclectic. I don't think I would like to lose that because that's my natural musical language.

AAJ: Reconciliation is about 45 minutes long, the length of an old record which often used to be around 40 minutes long, 45 at a push. A lot of CDs are 60 minutes or 75 minutes long and very often it seems too long. Do you like this slightly shorter format, or were there other considerations?

DSN: Yes, that's interesting. If I had the other track which was rejected, the CD would be about 50 minutes, which I think is still OK. If I have to listen to a CD which is an hour or more it's too much, I mean you lose it after a while and the last thing I want to do is lose the people who listen to my CD. It's exactly like a performance, if it's too long you lose your audience, even if it's interesting. Quantity is not always quality.

AAJ: Did you have control over the length of the CD or did John Zorn have a say in that too?

DSN: He said eight tracks would be OK, and also I wanted more vocals but he said no. He didn't want any vocals, so he had some control over it, but it was commissioned. It was almost like composing music for a film. He didn't want too much Middle Eastern music, so I had to follow his guidelines. It was a one hundred percent artistic project but with guidelines. It was not an easy process.

Daphna Sadeh NeuAAJ: Was that a one-off project for John Zorn or can you see yourself recording for Tzadik again?

DSN: It's hard to know, but if I did it again I would definitely do it differently.

AAJ: Where do you see music taking you in the future?

DSN: I really want to develop myself as a composer. Our next project in the summer is to collaborate with a string orchestra and conductor Miguel Estaban in Spain, with the music from Reconciliation. When I talk about a conductor, I'm talking about a very open musician who could have been a jazz musician but he chose to be a classical musician; it's not a rigid classical approach. He's young and open minded. So we formed an orchestra in the north of Spain and he's going to do the arrangements. I suggested calling it the Three Cultures Project, because of the history of Spain, the coexistence of three religions, three cultures in the past. It will mostly be the music from the CD, the music of the Voyagers and myself, but I'm also going to compose some medieval music which we might incorporate.

AAJ: You are obviously drawn to convergence of cultures.

DSN: Yes, definitely. I like to collaborate with different cultures, but mainly I'm looking for interesting projects and this looks to me like an interesting project and a chance to expand my abilities as a composer and a performer.

Selected Discography

Daphna Sadeh and the Voyagers, Reconciliation (Tzadik, 2009)
Daphna Sadeh and the Voyagers, Walking the Thin Line (33 Records, 2007)
George Samaan & Salem Darwish, Hella (Nana Disc, 2003)
Daphna Sadeh, Out of Border (Independent, 2002)
Eve's Women, Eve's Women (Independent, 2002)
Eve's Women, Paradise (Independent, 1999)
East West Ensemble, Zuma (Magda Records, 1994)

Photo credits

First group photo: Claire Borley

Second group photo: Rainlore's World of Music

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