Monday, October 31, 2011

The Pirkei Avot Project

Abraham Cahan introduced A Bintel Brief in 1906.

I was happy to write a music review for the Arty Semite, a fun blog over at the website of the Jewish Daily Forward.  The review covers a new release, called "The Pirkei Avot Project, Vol. 1," by jazz guitarist Amanda Monaco.  She's interpreted some passages from a Jewish text, Pirkei Avot, and I enjoyed the result. 

Two years ago, I read the book "A Bintel Brief: Sixty Years of Letters from the Lower East Side to the Jewish Daily Forward."  A Bintel Brief was an advice column published in the Forward, a Yiddish-language newspaper founded in 1897.  The paper is now published in both Yiddish and English, and its content has changed.  If you read the book, you're peeking into a Jewish-American experience that doesn't exist anymore: the experience of the Jewish immigrant.

The paper was run from 1903 to 1946 by Abraham Cahan, one of the best writers to read if you want a good look into that experience at the turn of the nineteenth century.  His first novel, "Yekl: A Tale of the New York Ghetto," was made into a great film, "Hester Street." 

If you didn't know, I'm Jewish.  I'm still not positive what that means, even though I minored in Jewish studies at McGill.  So in that vein, it felt a little weird writing a CD review for a blog at a newspaper which has its roots in the Jewish social dissidence of the early 1900s.  But what can you do?  A bi gezunt.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Gilad Hekselman

Gilad Hekselman
If you can find it, check out my latest review of Gilad Hekselman's new record, "Hearts Wide Open."  It's my first review for the New York City Jazz Record.  To read it, You have to download a PDF copy of the paper on the website(For December's issue of the Record, I'll be reviewing an Ed Thigpen album.)  

"Hearts Wide Open" is really good.  I recommend you listen to it.  Mr. Hekselman, 28, is a wonderful guitarist, and he's only getting better. 

Last November, I had the chance to interview Mr. Hekselman between sets at the Upstairs Jazz Club in Montreal.  He was playing with bassist Rick Rosato and drummer Ari Hoenig--who both also sat in on the interview.  If you're interested, find my review of the show here and the interview here on Nextbop.  Mr. Hekselman stands out as one of the more quiet, humble, and thoughtful musicians I've interviewed in the past.

Here's a quote from the interview, about jazz in Israel, Mr. Hekselman's homeland.

"So there’s definitely a lot of great education, and I think the emphasis in Israel is on really good things: like a lot of tradition, a lot of 'check out where the music comes from' and stuff, so you know, in that sense, I think it’s great. And also, in the last few years, I feel like things have also started to open up. When I came to New York, I was like a total hard bop-head. You know, I was pretty much…I was still trying to be original, but I was almost only checking out like Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and stuff…"

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dead Cat Bounce

Dead Cat Bounce

I hadn't heard of Dead Cat Bounce, the Boston-based jazz sextet, until I wrote a short review last week of their latest album, Chance Episodes, for the Canadian music magazine Exclaim!.  The review was just put up on their website, and if you'd like to read it, you can find it here.  I liked this music a lot, even more than the band name.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

SFJazz Collective

SFJazz Collective

For those of you living in or near the Princeton area, I highly recommend you check out the SFJazz Collective at McCarter Theatre tomorrow, October 5, at 8 p.m.  It should be good.  Follow this link to read a short preview I wrote of the show.