Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

2

Alberto Mizrahi: Matzah to Menorah: A Holiday Jazz Celebration

Hrayr Attarian By

Sign in to view read count
There is a well-established legacy of fusing the sacred with the secular in jazz. Pianist Duke Ellington's Concert of Sacred Music (RCA, 1966) is, perhaps, the most ceremonial example of this but there is a myriad of other recordings. Guitarist Grant Green's gospel-inspired Feelin' the Spirit (Blue Note, 1962), pianist/harpist Alice Coltrane's exploration of Hinduism and beyond on Universal Consciousness (Impulse!, 1972) and saxophonist Pharoah Sanders' nod to Islam with the classic Summun Bukmun Umyun (Impulse!, 1970), are a few of the more freewheeling expressions of this musical relationship.

With Matzah to Menorah: A Holiday Jazz Celebration, classically trained tenor Alberto Mizrahi brings a jazzy spontaneity to the rich and long tradition of Jewish song. Accompanied by Trio Globo, Mizrahi—who is a hazzan or cantor at Chicago's Anshe Emet Synagogue—sings eight tunes associated with the Passover Seder, four with the Hannukah celebration and cedes leadership to the trio on one.

The first set originates from Andalusia, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor and Italy. This diversity of folkloric heritage, as well as the innovative delivery, makes for an intriguing listen. "B'Tzet Yisrael (Chant)" is a solemn interpretation of Psalm 14. Mizrahi's haunting and monophonic vocals bear strong elements of both Gregorian liturgy and Judaic religious music. Harmonicist Howard Levy punctuates the piece with his deep notes, underscored by cellist Eugene Friesen's wistful drone, creating an atmosphere both ancient and timeless.

Much like with their lineage, the orchestration of these canticles shows a fascinating mix of motifs while maintaining a common team of spirituality. "Dayenu" has hints of American folk music, especially in Levy's harmonica solo and up-tempo, ragged piano, while Mizrahi's evocative singing on "Odecha Ki Aniani" is as passionate as that of a Delta blues shouter, albeit much more burnished, its melody possessing elements of both Jewish and Islamic mysticism.

The last five tracks are more lighthearted but no less creative. The delightful "Ocho Kandelikas" features Mizrahi's soaring and agile voice over pianist Levy's darkly sweet lines, percussionist Glen Velez's tango rhythms and Friesen's melancholic cello. On the instrumental "Mi Yemalel," Levy's fluidly complex mouth harp, Friesen's almost guttural bowing and Velez's unpredictable and angular percussion create a vibrant ambience.

Mizrahi and his band mates have created an engaging and stimulating harmonic amalgam that spans both geography and history.

Track Listing: Abastava A Nos (Sephardic “Dayenu” Chant); Dayenu; B’Tzet Yisrael (Chant); B’Tzet Yisrael (Livorno Tradition); Miriam’s Prophecy; Odecha Ki Aniani; Un Cavretico (Ladino “Chad Gadya”); Eliyahu Hanavi; Oy, Chanukkah; Mi Yemalel; S’Vivon, Sov, Sov, Sov; Ma’oz Tzur; Ocho Kandelikas.

Personnel: Alberto Mizrahi: voice; Howard Levy: diatonic harmonicas, piano; Eugene Friesen: cello, voice (11); Glen Velez: percussion, throat singing (1).

Title: Matzah to Menorah: A Holiday Jazz Celebration | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Fred Hersch Trio '97 @ The Village Vanguard CD/LP/Track Review
Fred Hersch Trio '97 @ The Village Vanguard
by Doug Collette
Published: December 13, 2018
Read The Forest from Above CD/LP/Track Review
The Forest from Above
by John Eyles
Published: December 13, 2018
Read Imaginary Band CD/LP/Track Review
Imaginary Band
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 13, 2018
Read Night CD/LP/Track Review
Night
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: December 13, 2018
Read An Ayler Xmas Volume 2 CD/LP/Track Review
An Ayler Xmas Volume 2
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 13, 2018
Read I Always Knew CD/LP/Track Review
I Always Knew
by Paul Rauch
Published: December 12, 2018
Read "More Songs About Error And Shame" CD/LP/Track Review More Songs About Error And Shame
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 24, 2018
Read "Please Advise" CD/LP/Track Review Please Advise
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 5, 2018
Read "Heart Love" CD/LP/Track Review Heart Love
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 12, 2018
Read "Unloved" CD/LP/Track Review Unloved
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: December 23, 2017
Read "Departures" CD/LP/Track Review Departures
by Troy Dostert
Published: December 19, 2017
Read "Live In Vienna, December 1st, 2016 (UK Edition)" CD/LP/Track Review Live In Vienna, December 1st, 2016 (UK Edition)
by John Kelman
Published: March 30, 2018