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