349

Greg Wall's Later Prophets: Ha'Orot: The Kook Project

Eyal Hareuveni By

Sign in to view read count
Rabbi Avraam Izchak HaCohen Kook (1865-1935) was one of the most influential and inspirational religious Jewish thinkers of the 20th century. Kook was a man who was humanistic in his philosophy. He preached for vegetarianism and was interested in the arts (he thought that Rembrandt was a tzadik, a righteous man), though his philosophy was deeply religious. He believed that the re-establishment of a Jewish state in the land of Israel had deep theological significance, a heavenly plan to bring about the messianic era.

Reed player Greg Wall, the co-leader of the seminal alt-klezmer Hasidic New Wave, and now the leader of Later Prophets, has chosen one of the greatest scholars of Kook—Rabbi Itzchak Marmorstein—to appear on Ha'Orot: The Kook Project. This second project of Later Prophets (their first self-titled album was released on Tzadik in 2004) features Marmorstein as a natural spoken word artist, and a capable translator of Kook's poetry into English. Marmorstein explains in the liner notes that the poetry of Kook offers a clear guidance about the Jewish concept of Tikun Olam, or repair of the world. He chose a fitting quote from Kook's writings for the inner sleeve: "The heart must be filled with love for all...."

The arrangements of Wall, pianist Shai Bachar and Marmorstein are true to the spirit of Kook: open-minded and compassionate. The band offers this rare attempt to dress these profound Jewish texts about belief and mysticism with musical ideas that became associated with modern klezmer. The soulful performances of all the pieces succeed to parallel and complement the texts with organic affinity and unity, and leave enough space for reflection. Their inventiveness and the richness of the musical vocabulary of the band members—also including bassist Dave Richards and drummer Aaron Alexander—suggest that these texts could, perhaps, have been part of a canon of modern Beat poets. In a way, these unorthodox arrangements undress the mythic character of Kook, and portray him as an accessible, passionate and compassionate man.

The poetic texts, recited in English and Hebrew, are at the center of each arrangement, and Marmorstein's pathos and deep understanding of the words charge the free-form and often minimalistic arrangements with intensity. But they also have an immediate and moving appeal.

Quite quickly, after the third piece, "From a Distant World," it's actually possible to begin believing in Kook's words—that heaven can be found in this world.


Track Listing: The One Who Seeks the Good (English Version); Renewal; From a Distant World; Take Me Out to the Overflowing; Nigun Ha'Rav #1; Shofar; Return of My Spirit; Nigun Ha'Rav #2; The Whispers of Existence; The Wellsprings of My Spirit; Freedom; I Am Filled with Love for God; The Four Fold Song; The One Who Seeks the Good (Hebrew Version).

Personnel: Rabbi Greg Wall: tenor and soprano saxophone, clarinet, shofar, moseno; Shai Bachar: piano; Dave Richards: bass; Aaron Alexander: drums; Rabbi Itzchak Marmorstein: spoken word.

Title: Ha'Orot: The Kook Project | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Tzadik


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Triple Double CD/LP/Track Review Triple Double
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Agrima CD/LP/Track Review Agrima
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 21, 2017
Read The Study of Touch CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read "Big Man on Campus" CD/LP/Track Review Big Man on Campus
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 7, 2017
Read "Samba Para a Vida" CD/LP/Track Review Samba Para a Vida
by Edward Blanco
Published: August 7, 2017
Read "June" CD/LP/Track Review June
by John Sharpe
Published: March 18, 2017
Read "Double Strike" CD/LP/Track Review Double Strike
by James Nadal
Published: May 31, 2017
Read "Beginnings" CD/LP/Track Review Beginnings
by David A. Orthmann
Published: September 25, 2017
Read "Henry" CD/LP/Track Review Henry
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 1, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.