The latest from the Knitting Factory’s “Jewish Alternative Movement” series is titled, With Every Breath “The Music of Shabbat At BJ”, featuring an aggregate of diverse musicians well known for their contributions to “new” or “modern jazz”, or in some circles – The NYC Downtown Scene. A recording with religious underpinnings, “The Music of Shabbat At BJ” is ..”the living music of Congregation Binai Jeshurun in New York City (BJ to all who know it)”.
What we have here are twelve solemn or “sacred” songs produced and arranged by keyboardist-composer Anthony Coleman featuring lead vocalists Rabbi J. Rolando Matalon, Rabbi Marcelo Bronstein and Hazan Ari Priven along with fine ensemble work from the versatile cast of musicians. To many, it comes as no surprise that artists such as guitarists Marc Ribot and Brad Shepik and cellist Erik Friedlander wear many hats as their extensive and disparate resumes will prove. Here, luminaries such as cellist Erik Friedlander, trombonist Josh Roseman, percussionist Jim Pugliese and others contribute nicely to these gorgeous pieces which lift the spirit and celebrate life regardless of one’s denomination or beliefs. Hymns for the soul, uplifting and overall beauty is portrayed via deeply moving vocals, pleasant arrangements and a melding of various Jewish melodies also integrated with Turkish and South Asian modal concepts. It’s not jazz – nor is it distinctly classifiable. You may feel a bit better about life in general – it is that positive and absorbing! * * * ½
Why do I love jazz? Well, depending on what you mean by jazz, I can send an answer in any number of directions. Briefly, I was exposed to this crazy music as a little boy, my dad good friends with the local music store, where he bought sheet music to play from his baby grand
Why do I love jazz? Well, depending on what you mean by jazz, I can send an answer in any number of directions. Briefly, I was exposed to this crazy music as a little boy, my dad good friends with the local music store, where he bought sheet music to play from his baby grand. Their massive record collection, my parents taking me to concerts and clubs (only one of five kids to do so), the Magnavox furniture stereo/radio ... it all added up. It was complex, emotional music. And it had rhythm! I drummed and followed the music through the '60s even as I enjoyed the new musics of my generation.
Along with side-trips to other musicians and music, it's been one hell of a pony ride ever since.