Showing posts with label Israel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Israel. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

India.Arie & Idan Raichel at the Paramount Theater and finding politics where there is none


Open Door - an India.Arie and Idan Raichel collaboration

Last Saturday night I went to a beautiful concert in Oakland's Paramount Theater presented by SFJAZZ with neo-soul singer India.Arie and Israeli world-fusion pop artist Idan Raichel. I am a fan of both artists independently and was curious about this collaboration that resulted in the soon-to-be-released album Open Door.


Turns out, Arie and Raichel are a perfect pairing; both artists have a steady stream of humanitarian sentiment throughout their music as well as self-acceptance. Arie sang in both Hebrew and English, and Raichel brought a very cool world fusion vibe to Arie’s bohemian soul vibe. While at times I felt the music was overly cheesy, I was also moved by the sentiment.


So, we all have pet peeves. They’re built into our DNA and there’s often not much we can do about them. They just sort of follow you around, pissing you off.


One of my pet peeves is talking during a live show. It’s one of those that things that if I try to ignore a loud conversation, it just gets more annoying, especially if the comments are frustrating.


Saturday night, there were two women sitting behind me who did not do their research about this performance. In its program, SFJAZZ titled this show “India.Arie and Idan Raichel”; this was a collaboration project. These women were obviously not aware of Idan Raichel or that simply, he would be there. And, it seemed that they took offense to the mere fact that he was Israeli.


Now don’t get me wrong, yes, I definitely have my own politics when it comes to Israel. I am Jewish, and I am also pro-peace and a raging humanitarian (if there is such a thing). I have traveled to Israel and the West Bank. I have been moved, disturbed, frightened, inspired, depressed and excited by what I experienced and what I continue to learn about the country. I also have wonderful Israeli family that I love very dearly.


I am very much torn about the whole issue of Israel. And I believe that if a person takes a hard stance either pro- or against, you have not learned or experienced enough of the larger issue. It’s very easy, especially from half way around the world, to listen to media and believe that one group of people are in the wrong, but the issue is so much more complicated than that.


From stage Raichel and Arie told the story of how they met, simply that Arie had traveled to Israel for personal exploration and she had discovered Raichel’s music there. The woman behind me took offense to the fact that she had even been there, saying loudly “It’s an apartheid state!” Raichel added to the story that they first met at a falafel shop to which the women responded “that’s Palestinian!”


What? Really? I don’t think so. I can’t believe she took it there.


I also heard her say, “I just didn’t expect this!” to her friend and something like “this is just so glorifying…” But there was no mention of politics, no mention of Palestine. Just some songs with Hebrew lyrics and talk of falafel.


Unfortunately Israel is the modern day South Africa and to many, any mention of the country brings up politics. I’m also assuming that if it were up to this woman, there would be a cultural embargo on Israel, much like the one placed on South Africa during its Apartheid, making a collaboration like Arie and Raichel’s fraught with controversy (much like Paul Simon’s Grammy winning Graceland).


I moved to seats across the aisle so that I didn’t have to listen to any more comments. I was very close to saying something to them. I understand that these women were unhappy, but they did not do their research and they didn’t have to spoil my enjoyment.


This is all so ironic considering that one of the central tunes (and wonderfully cheese-tastic) on Open Door is called “The Gift of Acceptance” with the lyrics:

We can debate to the end of time who's wrong and who is right,

Or I can honor your choices and you can honor mine.

They call you Israeli and they call me an American,

I look at you and I don't see a country, I just see my friend,

I pray we're in each other's lives for a long, long time

because I honor your choices and you honor mine.


We all want the same things from life,

We want peace, love and prosperity.

But can we give up our need to be right?

Give the world a present, give the gift of your acceptance.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Israeli Jazz and bassist Avishai Cohen

At the beginning of 2010, a friend of mine turned me onto bassist Avishai Cohen. He has played with giants of jazz in New York, Europe and of course Israel. He finally started his own record label in 2003 and his new release Aurora is one of the most gorgeous records I've heard.

This video of the track "Alon Basela" has just over 24 thousand hits, I bet 20 thousand of them are mine. As soon as the video is over I want to hear it again.
(Sung in Hebrew)
I believe I’m an oak tree in the rock
Even if a storm will hit me.
I will keep standing
When I shed a tear I plant a Tree.

Sorrow is the soul
And I am nature

I believe in mankind
And in the sky
I exist in the ocean
And in the tree
As long as I live
I will remember
Happiness is the people
For better and ever



Cohen plays at Yoshi's in Oakland on Wednesday and Thursday, two shows each evening. I'll be there Thursday for the 8pm.

READ MY PREVIEW HERE

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I am seriously obsessed with Avishai Cohen's "Alon Basela"


Avishai Cohen is one of the world's leading jazz bassists. He has brought Israeli jazz to the world and Israel to jazz.

The song "Alon Basela" one of those songs that I played over and over again when I first heard it and then get an hankering for time to time.

I asked my Israeli pianist cousin about him and he emailed back:
Avishai Cohen is one of the more known and influential jazz musicians in Israel and also can be credited for bringing jazz music into the general public attention in Israel. He's also an amazing performer and very known worldwide. He was also a part of the Chick Corea trio and played with the most important groups. He's a bit arrogant but that's forgiven..most important thing: he created something that you can justly call authentic in terms of Israeli Jazz.
Also, you gotta love upright bassists that can also sing.

If you click on this video of "Alon Basela," the youtube video is on a playlist and will cycle through more songs on the new album Aurora. It's really beautiful.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Adam Lambert doesn't stand alone as openly gay male pop star: six musicians to check out

I wasn’t going to broach the subject of Adam Lambert's "coming out" into mainstream pop culture post-American Idol , but after hearing and reading reactions all across the board I had to get my two cents in. I, sometimes painfully, sat through most of the American Music Awards and can’t believe the media is getting their panties in a bundle over this. Nevermind, I can believe it, that’s what the media does. I guess I’m part of that, eh?

In the midst of all this Prop-8 nonsense, I do believe it is the double standard that is to blame. But there are two double standards at work here: that of gender and that of sexuality. As many have said before me the Britney Spears/Madonna kiss was okay with the media. They are both straight women. If Melissa Etheridge pulled what Adam Lambert did, I think there would have been a similar noise. Blatant homosexuality is threatening to mainstream media. This we know.

READ MORE OF MY ARTICLE AND SEE VIDEOS OF RUFUS WAINWRIGHT, MATT ALBER, IVRI LIDER, CAZWELL, LEVI KREIS & THE SCISSOR SISTERS

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Palestine and Israel - Hevenu Shalom Alechem/ Ma Ana Ajmal Min Salam

Who's in the mood to hear about some Jewish/Muslim collaboration for a change?  I sure am.

Since going to Israel two years ago (I can't believe it's been that long) I am even more thoroughly convinced that there is no right and wrong when it comes to the Israeli/Palestinian situation. At this point it's more like mafia warfare that anything else. The resentment and fear runs so deep that there seems to be no hope in sight.

As I Jew I cannot help but to feel sympathy and cultural understanding for Israel. I have family there that I love very much, and I know how they have grown up in a world where you might lose your life walking across the street. And as a human being and as part of a people who was once victim to genocide, I feel the Palestinian struggle as well.

One thing that most people can agree upon is that the leaders of these two peoples cannot seem to make it work. There have been so many misteps along the way (that I will not get into here) that you can't help but wonder who on earth these people are and how they can sleep at night.

Most Israelis and Palestinians just want to live their lives in peace and most of them do, together, side by side.

I wanted to post this song as tribute to the power of two warring peoples coming together to make art and music. It's sung in both Hebrew and Arabic called Hevenu Shalom Alechem ("We brought Peace among us" in Hebrew) & Ma Ana Ajmal Min Salam ("There is Nothing more Beautiful than Peace" in Arabic).  And I have to say, Other than Souad Massi, I'm new to listening to Arabic being sung, I think it's gorgeous!



If you want to help, my advice to you is go to Israel and the West Bank if you can (especially the West Bank, so many people go to Israel and don't make it to the West Bank, there are organizations that will take you for free), talk to as many people as you can including Jews and Muslims. 

But if that's not possible, talk to people at home. If you hear someone taking sides, talk to them about it. The only thing that will save this situation is communication, whether it be artistic or simple conversation.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Israeli Music - Part 1: Shotei Ha'Nevuah (Fools of Prophecy)


Happy Channukah!  I always feel especially Jewish this time of year, so I figured I'd take advantage by blogging about my favorite Israeli music; something I've been meaning to do for a while.  And there's a certain Texan that I know will be interested...

I'm going to start of this three part installation with a group that my Israeli cousin turned me onto almost two years ago (I can't believe it's been that long since I visited): Shotei Ha-Nevuah or the "Fools of Prophecy."  (their myspace page)

My favorite Shotei Ha'Nevuah song is called "Kol Galgal" meaning "The Sound of  Circle" or even "The voice of the wheel" (Hebrew speakers correct me here, my Hebrew skills have long since declined since my Bat Mitzvah, and I don't trust the internet). It's one of the most gorgeous songs I've ever heard. My aunt said that she's never heard Hebrew sound so beautiful.

The lyrics come straight of the Kaballah, the book of Jewish mysticism:

THE SOUND OF A CIRCLE

The sound of a circle rolls upwards from below,
obscure chariots going and revolving

The sound of melodies goes up and down
it goes and wanders in the world.

The voice of a shofar extends
through the depths of stairs,
and the circle spins around.
That's the sound,
the sound of a circle going up and down.


I also found another translation here.

Here is a video someone put together of rather nice beach shots in Tel Aviv.  They have a pretty gorgeous beach actually, one of the nicest ones I've been to that's still so urban. Maybe it helps that it's on the Mediterranean sea... I also found an awesome live version here (with a 100 person choir). 




"Kol Galgal" is nothing like the rest of Shotei Ha'Nevuah's music.  Usually it's more upbeat, and is a sort of "world fusion" (I hate that term) hip hop. I really don't know how else to explain it.

This a tune called "Ein Ani" (No, I):



This is a funny video I found of "Ha'yeladim Koftzim" (The Children Are Jumping ) that some kids made. I just like watching these silly teenagers dance around in funny hats. And WOW do they have amazing hair...



Anyway, stay tuned for a couple more bands and HAPPY CHANNUKAH or happy Christmahanukwanzikah.  

And more importantly, a happy new year.  

p.s. oh, I added  "follower" widget over on the right there.  Sign up if you feel like it.  It will make me feel loved.  :)

p.p.s. No one took me up on that CD mix that I'd say I would make for you if you wanted.  I was serious about that.