Let Us Break Bread Together
Further Explorations of the Afro-Semitic Experience
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• Part 1: Back to the Beginning
  Related Resources
• Jewish/Israeli Music
• African Music
• Jewish Music 101
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• David Chevan's Official Site

Paula: Combining Jewish and Gospel songs is a very unique -- and potentially controversial -- idea. What sorts of reactions have you gotten regarding the album?

David: The critical reactions have been all positive until quite recently. The biggest criticism leveled at us was by this old school "Jazz Police" type of guy who is going around criticizing our work because, according to him, "there is very little jazz" in our music. He also thinks the album is out of tune, but I think it is he who is out of tune. But as far as our music making theological controversy, thank goodness, no. After all we are picking very specific themes out of the large repertoire that exists of sacred African-American and Jewish music. We also program our music so that it does not delve into dogmatically dangerous waters. We won't be performing any pieces with a title like "Jesus is Lord" not because we don't appreciate the piece, but because it enters into that zone which is inappropriate for our artistic statement. We will play a gospel piece like "I've Been 'Buked and I've Been Scorned" because it so obviously speaks to both the Afro and Semitic experience. Mainly, it needs to be understood that I am a Jew who appreciates the profundity of devout Christian faith but I am not Christian nor do I profess to specifically Christian beliefs. Then again, Warren is not Jewish. That may be what makes our dialogue so interesting, I can't say, that we are willing to so honestly be ourselves and still continue to communicate.

Warren: Nothing but intrigued seems to be the anticipatory reaction I've gotten from most people, delighted from others, and when we; David and I, play together sheer wonderment. I think one has to keep in mind that those who want to see us are defintely seeking the meeting of disparate forces, and are at least open to the possibility of two juxtaposed entities finding the overlapping ground. We have yet to truly tap into the Black community wholesale, and there are still some sensitive areas in our presentation, some taboos, but nonetheless attractive overall to most.

Paula: How did you go about choosing the songs that appear on the album?

David: Warren and I spend a good deal of time talking together about the sacred music we grew up with and what clicked with us then and what still resonates now. Occasionally we'd just play something for each other and take it from there. Other times we'd play recordings of a piece. Each piece almost ends up with an individual evolutionary story. The wonderful thing about this process is that it doesn't end when a piece is recorded. Our interpretations of a piece continue to evolve and change as our perspective on it grows both musically and philosophically. For example, "Let Us Break Bread Together," the title track of the album was something Warren taught me about an hour before a concert while we were warming up for the performance. He showed me the chord changes and we played it through a few times. We premiered it that night and it immediately became a central part of our repertoire. Other pieces come and go, they are almost seasonal. As a result, when we recorded the CD there were a number of pieces that were on our minds. Were we to record the album now I think the repertoire might again be different. Actually, we are hoping to make another CD since there is so much incredible and meaningful music in our traditions that is worth exploring from an improvisatory perspective.

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