Some of the Israeli tunes I’ve been listening to since I’ve returned…
When I was in Tel Aviv, I made a beeline for Tower Records and picked up the first two Israeli releases by The Idan Raichel Project. Raichel is a musical phenom who has been extremely popular in Israel for some time, but has only recently introduced to American ears. He’s a multi-talented keyboardist, composer, producer and singer, whose musical “project” involves over 70 different musicians from a wide variety of backgrounds and he produces an amazingly rich musical synthesis of Israel’s ethnic diversity. While Raichel highlights Ethiopian music and musicians prominently, his songs also feature Arab musicians, traditional Yemenite vocalists, a percussionist from Suriname and a South African singer, among others.
Unlike most Israeli popular music, which is for me too often a mediocre rehashing of Western style rock and pop, Raichel’s music represents an attempt to create an authentically Israeli style by bringing together the unique musical traditions of a uniquely multi-ethnic Israeli culture. (I know I’m making his music sound like an anthropology dissertation here, but trust me, this is eminently listenable and often beautiful music.)
If you’re new to Idan Raichel, I’d recommend his 2006 American-released CD which is a “best-of” collection from their first two albums. While you are at it, click above to see the video of his song, “Mi’Ma’amakim.” (Even more exciting: according to his MySpace site, he’s coming stateside this fall – I hear his performances are not to be missed.)
Pick #2: While I was at Ben-Gurion and preparing for my flight home, I wandered into the Duty Free shop and I noticed the latest CD by Habreira Hativit– an Israeli group that I haven’t listened to in years. Habreira is led by great Shlomo Bar, a Moroccan-born Israeli, and has long been creating exciting Israeli music that combines Eastern Jewish cultural influences. I became a devoted fan after seeing them in concert in LA in the early 1980s, and I confess I didn’t know Habreira was still alive and kicking. I’m delighted to become reacquainted with their new lineup and their latest music. (Click below for the video of their song,”Da’re,” from their recent album, “Low Clouds.”)