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Bop Kabbalah

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Bop Kab­bal­ah (l to r): Ben Holmes (trum­pet), Ken Thom­son (bass clar­inet), myself (gui­tar) and Adam D Gold (drums) .
pho­to by Eli Kop­pel
This quar­tet is my take on Jew­ish-themed com­po­si­tion-meets-impro­vi­sa­tion. The band plays far-reach­ing, kinet­ic, lyri­cal music that takes some of the lan­guage of klezmer, modal nigu­nim, jazz, rock and 21st cen­tu­ry con­cert music…and then twists and recon­tex­tu­al­izes it. It’s not real­ly what you’d hear in most syn­a­gogues — though we have played in some — or at most wed­dings, but of course, those aren’t the only places to hear Jew­ish music! The music I’ve writ­ten for this group draws on my Jew­ish life and many years of expe­ri­ence play­ing sec­u­lar and reli­gious music. To learn more, check out this video.

Our debut record­ing came out in May 2014 on Tzadik Records (Rad­i­cal Jew­ish Cul­ture Series) and has received some rave reviews, includ­ing four stars in Down­beat and The Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald. Jaz­zTimes called it “…one of the year’s most arrest­ing recordings…wailing with enough majesty to bring down the walls of Jeri­cho.” You can buy it direct­ly here, or on Ama­zon and Itunes.

2016 saw the addi­tion of vocal­ists Kamala Sankaram and Sara Ser­pa for the pre­miere of my new long-form piece “Future Gen­er­a­tions (A Set­ting of Yid­dish Poet­ry by Avrom Reyzen).” Reyzen’s cen­tu­ry-old poet­ry is a pre­scient and haunt­ing explo­ration of Jews in social jus­tice strug­gles. Noth­ing seems more rel­e­vant to me as an artist in 2017.