New Sounds in Jewish Music
A New Year of New Music
  Related Resources
• Jewish/Israeli
 Elsewhere on the Web
• The Klezmatics (official site)
• San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble (official site)
• Yale Strom (offical site)
• Daniel Ben Shalom (official site)
• Eli Chait (official site - purchase albums)

The Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashana) is right around the corner -- it's the perfect time of the year to tune into some new Jewish music.

Jewish wedding music is a staple of Jewish cultural life. HipHopKhasene (Piranha) takes the traditional klezmer played at Jewish weddings, and gives it a new twist by giving it a hip hop backbeat. Solomon and Socalled are the creative forces behind the album. Sophie Solomon, a Toronto-based Klezmer violinist is the "bride," while DJ Socalled is her "husband," a Canadian DJ and hip hop producer. The guest appearances at the "wedding" reads like a who's who of Klezmer: David Krakauer, Frank London, and Zev Feldman, to name just a few.

Naxos World's series of World Music albums features excellent surveys of specific musical cultures at reasonable prices. Klezmer: Café Jew Zoo is one of the latest installments, and features Yale Strom and special guest Andy Statman. From Chassidic melodies to Yiddish social protest, this album features a wide range of Klezmer.

Ancient Echoes (World Library Publications) is the perfect album for those who want to explore a more esoteric side of Jewish music. The San Antonio ensemble SAVAE recreate music from the Second Temple era. They had to use a music theorist to crack the code of the Torah's accents in order to get the needed musical notation. This album is for early Jewish/Christian music what the chant albums years ago was for Catholic music.

Of course, when The Klezmatics have a new album out, it is always time to rejoice. This band has captured the hearts and ears of Jewish music fans around the World. Rise Up! Shteyt Oyf! (Rounder Records) use their trademark horn riffs and characteristic energy to present songs that blur the lines between traditional and contemporary. The song "I Ain't Afraid," presented in both English/Yiddish and English-only versions, is one of the album's highlights and talks frankly about religious intolerance.

One of the best parts of my job is when I "discover" some real hidden musical gems, usually in the form of emerging artists. Two young men who are making bold steps in Jewish music are Daniel Ben Shalom and Eli Chait. Ben Shalom is based in the UK and Israel, and he has taken some very spiritual Jewish liturgy and given it a rock and jazz backbeat. His independent album Tefilati, is very well produced and demonstrates Ben Shalom's spiritual direction, smooth voice, and leanings in the directions of jazz, folk, and pop.

Eli Chait's Peace of Mind (Independent) is also a combination of faith and fun. Chait is a singer/songwriter who writes and sings exclusively in Hebrew and writes about Israel and G-d from the perspective of a worshipper and wonderer. One of the most original songs on the album is Creedance Clearwater Revival's "Down on the Corner" re-written in Hebrew. Chait's style is very uptempo and his vocals are very passionate.

L'Shana Tova!