Saturday, September 22, 2012

Zohar's Nigun The Four Questions Rectify Records 2012

Zohar's Nigun and the latest release The Four Questions is an experimental jazz/Jewish excursion into the improvisational world of Jewish music and culture. A recording whose cultural importance in some ways outshines its musical significance is rare but The Four Questions scores incredibly high marks on both.

A conceptualized release in response to the backlash against the stereotypical interpretations of what it "is" to be Jewish or of any nationality or culture has some personal irony for this critic. Two artists, Gilad Atzmon a former Israeli solider living in exile in London who is on record as questioning the legitimacy of the Holocaust  along with Palestinian piano lounge act Rich Siegel who has been documented on social media as admitting having been excommunicated from the Jewish faith are perhaps the best examples of the back lash in question. When twisted and paranoid political ideology over take logic and reason to the point of venomous hate speech posted under the guise of the first amendment then the issues run far deeper than I care to address here. In speaking out against these "artists" I was labeled as part of the grand Zionist conspiracy. Had they known I am a reformed Southern Baptist imagine their reaction!

The basic format for The Four Questions finds the individual members exploring their personal feelings and coming to terms with their own cultural identity by an eclectic mix of both the traditional and slightly more modern Jewish songs with the application of the more western approach to the improvisational music we call jazz. World music? No. Instead we have an intimate and insightful hybrid of cultural tradition that is as stirring and beautiful as some of the more classically oriented post modern work of great depth and tenderness. An introspective sonic wonderland of texture couples with the raw emotion that springs forth from each composition. There is an ebb and flow unique to the life blood of Jewish culture and tradition. From the depths of the incredible grace of Daniel Weltlinger on violin with Daniel Pliner offering the perfect counter point on piano to the intricate yet subtle nuances brought forth from bassist Simon Milman and drummer Alon Ilsar, The Four Questions is a stellar offering.

While cultural back lash is nothing new in regards to a variety of ethnicity's, the beauty of The Four Questions should transcend political and ideological stereotypes while uplifting the human spirit of all that chose to partake of such a pristine recording.

Tracks: Yerushalayim; Kohanim/Avinu Malkeinu; Hakel; Ma Nishtana; Hinei Ma Tov U Ma Naim; Interlude; Ahava Raba; Galaktoboureko; The Wanderer; Enjo's Wedding Dance; Shema.

Personnel: Daniel Weltlinger: violin; Daniel Pliner: piano; Alon Ilsar: drums; Simon Milman: bass.