Desert Wind

Dateline: June 9, 2000

Desert Wind is a band that combines World Fusion with spirituality. Middle Eastern rhythms are pervasive on the double CD World Dance, while She is a Tree of Life celebrates the mysical side of Judaism. At the center of the band is Alan and Andalin Bachman, who explored their own Jewish heritage while working on that album. Then came Christmas: Rhythms of the Holy Land -- Christmas music from Jewish musicians? I asked Alan and Andalin some questions about how the band got together, their musical influences . . . and, most importantly, what their rabbis think of all of this!

Paula: What are your goals as musical artists?

Alan: One of my first recordings, not currently in production, was called "The Common Thread." Desert Wind still stands today for the common thread of humankind, using the universal language of music to reach an interfaith and cross-cultural audience. Performers and recording artists hired for specific projects have included musicians from a wide variety of belief systems and musical backgrounds. It has become a synthesis of style and spirituality. Our website says, "this work is part of a continuum to greet the new millennium." We want to continue to create, perform, and record moving music as much and as long as possible.

Andalin: We have spent a lifetime developing our musical styles and absorbing the musical work of others. Now we have our songs to share. Now we have music for people to take home and re-live. As a group, our goal is to find that world stage on which play Alan's "Say Yes to Life," and all those other "fun" Desert Wind songs. Desert Wind music is a modern fusion of Arabic, Israeli, Hindu, Native American, Spanish, African, Celtic, Latin American, East Indian, and American musical styles. Breathe. Desert Wind celebrates the Universal Goddess which can be found, if you look closely, within all cultures. We want to share our healing musical energy with everyone who will listen and receive. And we want it to be "fun."

Paula: I've never seen the same act do both Christmas music and Jewish music -- how did this come about?

Andalin: Thank you for asking! We both come from Jewish backgrounds, so the Desert Wind Jewish music comes naturally. It is based largely on Jewish Mysticism found in the Kabbalah. In a Tikkun magazine review, Rabbi Ya'acov Garbriel wrote, "these songs and chants are a gift to those of us who like to dance as we pray." Israeli and other Middle Eastern rhythms provide such life for these songs, and the spirituality within Kabbalah provides an infinite source of inspiration.

So why would Jews do a Christmas album?

Alan: Every year at Christmas time musicians are called on to perform Christmas songs. It goes with the territory of working musicians! So Desert Wind has had years of experience performing Christmas songs. But when Desert Wind plays them, utilizing Middle Eastern rhythms, the number one reaction is a smile. This is something new and refreshing, and people say they feel like dancing to these Christmas songs.

It occurred to us that it was totally appropriate to be playing Christmas songs to rhythms from Israel and other parts of the Middle East. After all, wasn't that the birthplace of Jesus, and wasn't he the focus of Christmas? Most Christmas music gives the impression that Christmas occurred in Europe. We endeavored to put in the influences of the original Christmas. Andalin: We have had the good fortune of working on some of our Jewish albums with a world class dumbek and tablas player. Our good friend Rami Ziadeh (now living in the Bay Area) just happens to be a Palestinian Christian. What a surprise to learn that Rami has roots and was born near Bethlehem on Christmas Day!

That made the Christmas album mandatory!

Andalin: Enough! It was like we had to do this project! We're sure we were the only Jews on the block to spend an entire summer listening to Christmas music! Hopefully, this album is a gift from Desert Wind to our Christian neighbors and friends. The final song on the Christmas CD summarized our prayer for this album. It is a Hebrew song written by Alan called "Tikkun Olam", meaning "To Heal the World."

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