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Daphna Sadeh & The Voyagers: Reconcilation

Eyal Hareuveni By

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Israeli-born, England-based composer and double-bassist Daphna Sadeh's third release, Reconciliation—the musician's second recording with her band, The Voyagers—is true to its title. Following the group's first album, Walking the Line (33 Records, 2007), Reconciliation reconciles the varied cultural roots of Sadeh—her classical training, jazz education in New York, Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jewish music, and traditional Arabic scales—into an organic and optimistic stew, all cooked through flowing, rhythmic and melodic arrangements. In her elaborate and well-crafted compositions, it is only natural that these diverse genres seek a peaceful unity that highlights their uniqueness and heritage, along with their inbred affinity to blend and bond into harmonic new forms.

Backed by the sympathetic Voyagers, who have worked together since 2003—Stewart Curtis on wind instruments, Ivor Goldberg on guitar and mandolin, Eddie Hession on accordion, Ronen Kozokaro on percussion and Mark Bassey on trombone—Sadeh offers six original compositions and two arrangements of traditional songs, all with her bass in the center of the mix. "Queen of Sheba," the opening composition, marries an Ashkenzai klezmer dance with a Middle Eastern-tinged Israeli folk dance, led by the assured arco playing of Sadeh and featuring fine solos by Curtis and Bassey.

Sadeh's portrait of Jerusalem, "Gulliver in Jerusalem," is faithful to the nature of this historic city, where conflicting cultural and religious narratives attempt to have the lead voice; all passionate, but not as compassionate in reality as in this delightful composition. "Avinu" is a beautiful arrangement of a Jewish prayer, and Sadeh's nuanced arrangement stresses the moving, devotional melody. Her adaptation of a Yemenite song, "What Else Is There," enriches the simple melody with a reggae beat, Spanish guitar and Celtic wind instruments.

"Klil" unfolds majestically, first as duet between Goldberg's acoustic guitar and Sadeh's arco playing, and later with thoughtful additions of light percussion, soulful accordion and ethereal flute, till all unite into a fast rhythmical coda. "Kadish," after the Jewish prayer that mourns the dead, blends dark and deep accordion and trombone colors with the light and gentle sounds of recorders that offer comfort and solace.

Sadeh concludes this impressive release with an optimistic, feminine "Eternal Mother," which brings together a Middle Eastern rhythmic pulse with East European dance forms and a Mediterranean leisurely feel, all tied by Sadeh's solid-base bass playing.


Track Listing: Queen of Sheba; Gulliver in Jerusalem; Avinu; What Else Is There; Reconciliation; Klil; Kadish; Eternal Mother.

Personnel: Daphna Sadeh: double bass; Mark Bassey: trombone; Stewart Curtis: clarinets, flute, descant and treble recorders; Ivor Goldberg: acoustic guitar, classical guitar, 12-string guitar, electric guitar, mandolin, voice; Eddie Hession: accordion; Ronan Kozokaro: drums, darbuka, frame drum, riq.

Title: Reconcilation | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Tzadik


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