Abby Rabinovitz's Flute Story
Fusing Her Jewish Roots with the Sounds of the World
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• Part 5: Fusing With the World
 
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Paula: What are your musical influences?

Abby: North Indian classical music is a very strong influence as well as klezmer music. I've lived in India twice (on different grants) and studied with two great North Indian artists, foremost North Indian flutist Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia and renowned vocalist and composer Pandit Balwant Rai Bhatt. I performed and recorded with the Klezmer Conservatory Band in the mid eighties. In my compositions and flute playing I explore ways of bringing these two traditions together. Intuitively, I feel a strong connection between them, perhaps because of their common Arabic roots.

I grew up studying western classical music. I got the courage to improvise when I was in my twenties and began studying jazz. Later I came to understand that there were other paths to improvisation also, that one could improvise and not necessarily be a jazz musician...at least the way "jazz musician" is often understood. When I began improvising I thought I would play standards and learn to solo over lots of chord changes. I still enjoy playing standards but it's not the central focus of my playing anymore. I do think that the study of jazz has affected how I improvise and especially how I develop ideas when I solo. And I still think of myself as a jazz musician, at least in the broader sense of the word.

I've also played Latin American music, particularly Brazilian music. I was featured on an album of Haitian music some years ago. I could go on with other influences but maybe I'd better stop...In this country things are labeled and categorized and if you can't label it, it's awfully hard to sell it. After all, what record bin do you put it in?

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