When I say “Jewish music,” you likely say “klezmer.” In reality, the depth and breadth of the Jewish musical tradition is one that spans thousands of years, traditions and styles.
If you’ve listened to pop radio recently, you’ve probably heard “Talk Dirty,” pop star Jason Derulo’s recent hit. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, the song starts out with a very catchy Middle Eastern beat. When I first heard the song, I yelled, “That sounds like Balkan Beat Box!” A few weeks went by before I realized that Derulo’s track did, indeed, sample “Hermetico,” a song by the Israeli group Balkan Beat Box (learn more about the collaboration here). For years I’ve listened to Israeli bands that are lesser-known in mainstream pop culture, and hearing that first beat made me proud that what used to be seen as slightly esoteric Middle Eastern-sounding music is now on an American pop radio station.
Curious to check out more great music with some serious Jewish roots? Last night the ever-popular Israeli keyboardist/producer/composer Idan Raichel played in Boston. Every year he stops here as part of his tour, and every year the show sells out. The talented group of world musicians that comprises the Idan Raichel Project has captivated us, and their sound is for sure on the Balkan Beat Box end of the spectrum, far more than on the klezmer end.
Next week, Sandaara, a new group led by the talented Michael Winograd, will share their Asian/Eastern European fusion sound at the historic Vilna Shul. Their unique blended sound in this funky space is sure to be an experience.
And local band Somerville Symphony Orkestar is a group of guys who just love klezmer. Led by Joel Edinburg, few of these band members are Jewish, but their amusing brand of punked-up klezmer certainly is!
From klezmer to Middle Eastern to American pop music, there’s no question that the Jewish musical tradition stands strong.
Are you a musician or music lover who would love to talk about this over coffee? Join the New Center NOW Music Roundtable on the third Thursday of every month!
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