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Noam Lemish

Noam Lemish has never felt inclined to pick a lane. Maybe his hyphenated identity as an Israeli-American- Canadian has helped inspire his multiplicity and general disinclination to follow stylistic guidelines. Whatever the reason, over the course of two decades of intensive musical study and creation he’s always sought to expand the scope of his exploration, often blurring or ignoring deeply etched boundaries between genres, peoples, and traditions. He’s a jazz artist and a classical composer of chamber works, an improviser and an accompanist, an intrepid cross-cultural investigator and an interpreter of contemporary composition. He contains multitudes.

Based for the past decade in Toronto, where he’s on faculty at York University’s Department of Music as Assistant Professor of Jazz Instruction and Pedagogy, Lemish is best known for leading or co-leading several celebrated ensembles. The critically hailed 2018 album Pardes features the quartet he co-leads with guitarist and oud expert Amos Hoffman, a player on the forefront of the brilliant wave of Israeli musicians who swept over the New York scene in the 1990s. The project documents their singular repertoire, a gorgeous collection of arrangements based on songs that reflect the diverse nature of Israeli society. Some are drawn from liturgical or folk tunes from Middle Eastern and Central Asian Jewish traditions, “for example, centuries-old songs that are common in Yemenite or Moroccan Jewish communities,” Lemish says.

Others are popular songs that have circulated in Israel since the 1950s, what Lemish describes as “an invented folk song tradition that some Israeli jazz artists use as source material like American standards.” They don’t serve as a lingua franca in the same way as say, “Autumn Leaves,” where any jazz musician can call one on the bandstand and expect her peers to know the piece. Rather, “artists will draw on specific songs and arrange them,” Lemish says.

While the quartet with Hoffman draws on the music Lemish heard growing up in Israel, the Israeli-Iranian Musical Initiative is a defiant project that brings together Canadian artists hailing from two nations that have been locked in hostility for decades. Founded by Iranian composer Parisa Sabet and Israeli composer Dan Deutsch, and with Lemish serving as co-artistic director, the ensemble’s sumptuous sound stems from an innovative blend of Western and Persian instruments. Among the music presented by the group was a program featuring songs beloved in Iran written by the Jewish-Iranian composer Morteza Neydavoud, who hails from a community with roots dating back 3,000 years to the Achaemenid Persian empire.

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ERLEBNISSE

This is a masterpiece of solo piano. David Reed – Kingston Whig Standard (2021)

Listening to this extraordinary CD – one would be well-advised to do so, repeatedly, as an uninterrupted whole (preferably with a glass of red wine in hand) – Lemish takes us along on his soul-baring, improvisational journey, which is nothing short of stunning (and which may even feel a touch voyeuristic for the listener, given the deeply felt depths that he plumbs). Infused with elements of jazz, classical and Middle Eastern music, Jewish folk and Israeli popular song, Lemish’s extemporizations are at times poignant, propulsive, yearning, melancholic, contemplative and quixotic. And they are masterful. Sharna Searle – The WholeNote (2022)

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Concert Schedule

Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Twelve

Self Produced
2022

buy

Erlebnisse

Self Produced
2021

buy

Pardes

Self Produced
2018

buy

Sonic Truffles

Self Produced
2018

buy

The Turning

Self Produced
2016

buy

Nightfall

Self Produced
2013

buy

Steals on Steeles

From: Twelve
By Noam Lemish

Erlebnis 5

From: Erlebnisse
By Noam Lemish

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