First F&F UK show in a loooong time friends so get your butts down there. Going to be a special night!
More info & Tickets here
A really special one-year, one day a week intensive deep dive into working with sound. Incredible and unique course. I'm buzzed to be a guest tutor.
Curated by artists, sound folk and musicians Dr Dan Scott & Robert Stillman with guest tutors including myself, Dr Emily Peasgood, Kyle McCullun (ContraPop Festival) and Cathy Lucas (Vanishing Twin). More information and sign up here.
Photos by Shendl Copitman
Yiddish Summer Weimar - a beautiful story of integrity, music, love and dedication to tradition and the art of music. I first came to YNY in 2008 - it was a cold snowy February in a small East German town. Intense, i’d never even been to Germany before, even though I have German heritage. Weimar is a town full of history, cultural and dark - from Bach to Goethe to the SS and the Nazi’s. It’s seen it all. No one spoke English although some of the older folks, shop owners and the likes spoke a bit of Russian - a hangover from WWII - and I remembered a bit from my studying Russian at school for a couple of years. That was lucky.
Now is a different story. The town has changed so much, popular with young students and tourists. It has a beautiful park with a river running through it, lush cafes and shops, squats, alternative night life culture, counter cultural events and unfortunately the odd Neo-Nazi - but it actually seems to be a bit of an artistic hot spot.
YNY has slowly been growing over 2 decades and is now a real institution in the town. A mix of in-depth workshops in Klezmer/Yiddish style, language, song and dance, accompanied by always another European musical tradition. This year it was Klezmer and Greek music. Yum.
I was honoured to have been invited to perform with long time fiddler pal Jake Shulman-Ment from New York City. We played 3 shows, including in Erfurt Synagogue (now a museum), one of the oldest Synagogues in Europe. Our thing is to take some of our favourite Klezmer tunes, Yiddish songs and original compositions and to improvise around the melodies, shapes and forms of the music.
It was a blast.
I also got to teach a little sneaky cello workshop on the side seen as there were 4 cellists at the workshop that week.
The Klezmer Cello Revolution is slowly creeping in!
I look forward to coming back next year for me, connecting with the wonderful community of Klezmer players that gather there, jamming into the night and continuing to share and learn about this beautiful musical tradition.
Check out Jakes Music here by the way. It is beautiful and brilliant!!!
A Summer in Europe - feels so good! Performing at the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow meant getting to perform with Grammy Award Winner Frank London’s Ghetto Songs project and an incredible line-up of artists including Karim Sulayman (vocals), Sveta Kundish (vocals), Brandon Ross (guitar/voice), Zeno De Rossi (drums), Ilya Schneyveys (keys & accordion) & Martin Lillich (bass) and of course once of my oldest musical pals and collaborators Frank (trumpets of many sorts). Frank has guided me through many a Klezmer journey and it was an honour to be part of this incredible band for the festival. The old Temple Synagogue in Kazimierz, Krakow could definitely have done with some air conditioning - it was about 40 degrees in there, but we made it through! I also managed to eat my body weight in Polish food - anything from cold Borsht mmm to Pierogi's, Georgian food and literally everything in between. Paying for it now buttttt now regr-eats!!!! I also got to hear my Chassidic Cantor fave from Brooklyn perform with some other incredible dudes featuring arrangements by the rather talented Jeremiah Lockwood. Lucky me. Ahhhh the Jewish eccentric-isms of Brooklyn, NYC.
New England Conservatory : Boston and Around : New friends, Old friends : Practice room shedding : learning things : intense : wonderful : the most challenging thing I have ever done : burgers : Boston winter : Survivors Breakfast : Anthony Coleman : leading to an unknown world : Open Form Scores : Cello, Feet & Cello : Charles Mingus times in Jordan Hall : Graphic Scores : Practice Rooms : THE MosT CHALLENGING ThING I HAVE EVER DONe : Me & Mum : 33G Practice building sunset a short respite and beauty in the middle of the ugly urban : Me & Solomon at the Boston Ballet : More burgers : Hikes : Random late night adventures frolicking with Rebecca Mac & Matthias Kaufman : Crueller - like a donut kinda? : Deep fried Pickles : Cape Cod with Henry (cold but stunning) : Banjo, Cello, Oud : Me : Jake S-M & Ilya Schneyveys in the forest : Me & Sam Kassirer at the NEC Gala : Beautiful Porch Fest Francesca from Hackney Style, if I come back there will be for sure MORE : Carla Kihlstedt : Mike Block : Hankus Netskey : Eden MacAdam-Somer : Nima Janmohammadi : Balla Kouyate : Mary Halverson : Charles Mingus : Iranian Music : Mande Music : Balafon : Timbre : Microtones : Play What You Sing | Sing What You Play : In One Year : Not Bad.
SCROLL OVER THE IMAGES BELOW FOR STORIES AND CAPTIONS. GREATFUL FOR EVERY MINUTE IN THIS INTENSE AND VERY DIFFERENT PLACE.
A lot of these seem to be about food I ate. I should do a whole separate blog post about that - in fact there will for sure be one about bagels - most notable that I till prefer a Brick Lane bagel (London) to any other bagel and that is a fact. Even if they are basically different products. I don't care. Brick Lane Bagel Bake all the way baby.
It is never too late for anything. I took myself to school in my backwards heart led and determined way. Sometimes life makes no sense at all, but I like that a highlight of my time at NEC was getting to dive deep into the music subconscious and conscious of Charles Mingus. Him turning 100 was an opportunity for the School to celebrate his birthday and have students and faculty perform some of his seminal works or interpretations of them.
Celebrating a year since my debut EP In Eynem was released on the Phantom Limb label, I wanted to share this live performance of Me Sunowa which is featured on the EP with you all.
This live rendition of my arrangement of the traditional Sinti song Me Sunowa was filmed at my favourite shelter in Margate. A place I would stare at from my flat during the second lockdown in the UK during the Pandemic.
The lyrics are in the Manouche dialect, the language spoken and sung by the Sinti Gypsies of Western Europe. I learned this song by my mentor and friend Tcha Limberger, a Belgian multi-instrumentalist that I was lucky to study with for several years in my 20's.
This video was beautifully shot by Nathan Jones.
Growing up as a liberal Jew in London in the 90's I don't remember having much fun in Synagogues or liking Jewish-related things. Through a serendipitous series of events I 'discovered' Klezmer music in my early 20's and this was partly what inspired me to spend some time studying at NEC in Boston. Knowing the Klezmer legacy of the school and having teachers there who were instrumental in the American Klezmer Revival period in the 1970's such as Hankus Netsky from the Klezmer Conservatory Band and having worked with numerous inspirational musicians from the Klezmer & Improvisation scene that had attended this school, I knew it was the place for me.
During my time in Boston I was invited on several occasions to perform at the Boston Synagogue, the only surviving Synagogue in the centre of town, which was rebuilt after an aggressive regeneration programme in the 50's where the slummy down area was bulldozed.
Nat Seelen, of Boston Klezmer band Ezekials Wheel skilfully curated a long season of events celebrating New Jewish Music and I am greatful to have had the chance to try out some of my own ideas there as well as to perform with Klezmer Fiddler and composer Abigale Reisman to showcase her original compositions.
So rarely is there funding from within the Jewish community and particularly the Jewish Arts community to provide a solid platform for professionals who work with Jewish music directly to develop and showcase their work. It is great it is happening and it should happen more!
Thank you to Nat for your enthusiasm and invitation to be part of the series, to Susan and the team at the Boston Synagogue.
Pandemic mask times. (Much stricter in Massachusetts than the UK of course) They don't have Boris to contend with over there.
It was to meat new musical collaborators and keep my creative focus during those cold winter months in Boston.
Supporting by JArts Boston.
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