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Man Bands

 

Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles — these were the “boy bands” of my day. In fact, there was really not such a thing until the term defined it, in the 1990’s, with the likes of Boyz II Men, ‘N Sync, and The Backstreet Boys. Wikipedia places it earlier, and there are some evolutions referred to, but I still give it to the ’90’s, with nods to Donny Osmond and Michael Jackson of the 1970’s and 1980’s spurring the young boy popstar phenomenon, further opening the music market to teen male pop poster-boys, along with their bands, during the later 70’s, popularizing maledom everywhere.

 

My era saw macho “man bands” slicing and dicing their way through rousing rock tunes with no intimation, whatsoever, regarding gender. Such things didn’t matter. Neither did race. Perhaps it would have continued to develop more naturally and organically, had we not indulged in exaggerated scrutiny to the matter, peering and prying into every aspect of its being, making sure to attach a label to it so that it would become a sure phenomenon.

 

Such is the nature of competition in the marketplace, the requisite publication of the theorem, welcoming admittance to the doctoral student into their professed occupations. No wonder the plethora of grant-driven studies in minutaie.

 

Nevertheless, good marketing and better formulas die a slow, ignominious death. So, here we have continuing boy bands, worse for the wear and the tear, with regard to the golden standards to which they now must attain. This is the same trajectory, by the way, as taken by the “girl bands”, pretty much, except the path preceeded the boy bands by about a decade or so (popularly considered — say, by The Bangles, or the Go-go’s, etc. — Yep, I spun double turntables, back in the day, but nothing fancy).

 

Girl and Boy Bands, as a concept, are almost on the verge of becoming passé. Until you come to this one: Celtic Thunder. This group is really wonderful. They comprise almost the right quantity of individuals to be considered a choir, but fall ideally just short.

 

Last night, I happened to leave my television tuned to the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) in America when I left off from watching the Stephen Hawking series, Genius. Turning it on for a little noise beyond the whirrings of my mind this following evening, a PBS special, with its accompanying fund drive, was broadcasting Celtic Thunder: Legacy. It was already past the halfway point, and I already missed quite a bit. Sad to say, as I enjoyed it very much.

 

Through the packing tape holding the lens to the frame of my spectacles (for that is what it surely is) from where it broke in two places, and on the small screen with few channels, perhaps first-gen cable-ready, I made out what appeared to be a Brad Pitt or Val Kilmer look-alike, with this beautiful voice and charming persona. I’m sure both Brad and Val can sing wonderfully, but this gentleman had a fine singing voice.

 

The rest of the ensemble were equally wonderful, as well. Hailing from Ireland, they sing an eclectic mix of heritage-style songs and those geared to their audience. Since the audience was American, they did some doo-wop tunes and classic tunes familiar to all. For that is what it is: a group geared for good, old-fashioned family fun and entertainment.

 

This is a show for young and old alike, and just about all would be able to appreciate it. If you can see it, whether on t.v., or live in-concert, or hear their shows via CD, I recommend them as a great, enjoyable group you can feel happy about listening to.

 

 

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Bela Fleck: Throw Down Your Heart: Tales From The Acoustic Planet, Vol. 3 – Africa Sessions (CD)

 

Bela Fleck: Throw Down Your Heart: Tales From The Acoustic Planet, Vol. 3 – Africa Sessions (CD)

2009; Produced by Bela Fleck Productions Inc. Under exclusive license to Rounder Records. (http://www.rounder.com/); info@rounder.com

 

1. Tulinesangala – Uganda (2:50)

Nakisenyi Women’s Group

Chanting, clapping

 

2. Kinetsa – Madagascar (4:16)

D’Gary

Really cool. Appalachian banjo-like sounds. Reminiscent of a familiar song I can’t figure out. Violin.

 

3. Ah Ndiya – Mali (3:49)

Oumou Sangore

Bluesy start, progressing into Chinese/Arabic/funk-like stuff. Cutting woman’s voice.

 

4. Kabibi – Tanzania (2:30)

Anania Ngoglia

Woah… crazy-jazziness sounding like Elmo — No, not St. Elmo’s fire, but Elmo from Sesame Street! With xylophone-like accompaniment providing Caribbean island sounds and vocal runs up and down the scales (even they laugh at the end).

 

5. Angelina – Uganda (2:51)

Luo Cultural Association

Rambling safari-like trek with interplaying percussionist pluckings running around in the background. High-pitched ululations sound like human mosquitoes!

 

6. D’Gary Jam – Madagascar, Uganda, Mali, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Cameroon (6:15)

D’Gary, Oumou Sangare, Richatd Bona, Baba Maal, Vusi Mahlasela, Afel Bocum, Anania Ngoglia, Toumani Diabate and Friends

I figured I’d find Toumani Diabate on this compilation… I was indeed actively searching for another great production from him. This one is like a nightmare, but intriguing. You can’t stop listening, even though everyone is going off in their own directions, doing their own things. Strangely, it all blends together in a scary, compelling way.

 

7. Throw Down Your Heart – Mali (5:07)

Haruna Sumake Trio and Bassekou Kouyate

This soft instrumental sounds more like an Ali Farka Toure/Toumani Diabate collaboration, the kind I was hoping to find. Also Jethro Tull tune toward the end.

 

8. Thula Mama – South Africa (3:59)

Vusi Mahlasela

A little bit of bebop in an African vibe with English subtitles.

 

9. Wairenziante – Uganda (2:55)

Muwewesu Xylophone Group

Having once or twice picked up a pair of mallets, I can appreciate the xylophone/marimba dexterity exhibited here.

 

10. Bunibalal – Mali (4:32)

Afel Bocum

A standout of a song. Soft male voice, Japanese/Arabic intro, Irish-tinged, totally African.

 

11. Zawose – Tanzania (3:20)

Chibite – The Zawose Family

How can people make such sounds? And offbeat, too? By true musicianship and artistry. This one’s a trip.

 

12. Ajula/Mbamba – The Gambia (4:31)

The Jatta Family

Quick tempo, probably what many Western minds would automatically associate to African music.

 

13. Pakugyenda Balebauo – Tanzania (2:58)

Warema Masiaga Cha Cha

E.T. went to Africa, instead. Neat question-answer format with kazoo/didgeridoo loose-stringed backup.

 

14. Jesus Is The Only Answer – Uganda (3:24)

Ateso Jazz Band

I love this one so much. So happy and uplifting. Upper register music and vocals. You’ll be smiling with this one!

 

15. Matitu – Tanzania (4:19)

Khalifan Matitu

Xylophone only, building up with background stuff sounding like a rainfall in a dense, tropical forest.

 

16. Mariam – Mali (3:51)

Djelimady Tounkara

I don’t know if I know what this song wants to be. It just is what it is — Ole’!

 

17. Djorolen – Mali (5:04)

Oumou Sangare

Delta meets Asio-Africa in rather soulful ballad. Love it.

 

18. Dunia Haina Wema/Thumb Fun – Tanzania (7:13)

Anania Ngoglia

Find myself not sure if I like it, yet enthusiastically starring it, just as well. Obvious mastery of the musical instruments, as well as the vocal chords echoing additional instruments. Sounds like you’re privileged to listen in on a jam going on.

 

———————————————————————–

 

This album started as an idea, when Bela Fleck heard the sounds of African music coming from the computer of his musicians on the tour bus. Enjoying what he heard, he decided to investigate the origins of his preferred instrument, the banjo, in West Africa, engaging Sony to underwrite the affair. After the tickets were booked, the field engineers reserved, the details and logistics arranged… Sony backed out.

 

So much had already been riding on this venture. With everything in place, Bela couldn’t let everyone down. Not only is he a folk hero in pioneering banjo music and styles, he turned folk hero in helping his fellow musicians continue with the job for this project. He hired his half-brother, Sascha Palladino, putting the venture to visuals in a documentary release now available through Netflix, or via purchase at New Video, a part of Cinedigm Entertainment:

 

(http://www.newvideo.com/)

DVD Cat: NNVG158461

DVD UPC: 7-67685-15846-3

SRP: $26.95

DIGITAL CAT: NNVG1839

 

The album won two 2009 Grammy® awards for Best Contemporary World Music Album and Best Pop Instrumental Album. Standout tracks on this African collaboration include numbers 10, 14 and 17, as well as number 18.

 

He’s now on tour in North America, with the following states and dates – For more details and to purchase tickets, visit his friendly website at: (http://belafleck.com/shows/)

 

INDIVIDUAL VENUES:

with Louisville Symphony Orchestra: KY – 04/30/2016

with The Flecktones: IL, MO, NC, NH, OH, PA, VT – June

with Abigail Washburn: AK – May; UT, CO – July

 

FESTIVALS:

Colorado:

Telluride Bluegrass Festival with The Flecktones – 06/16/2016

Telluride Bluegrass Festival All-Star Jam – 06/19/2016

Rocky Grass Festival with Abigail Washburn – 07/30/2016

District of Columbia:

American Acoustic with Chris Thile – 06/24/2016

North Carolina:

Brevard Music Festival – 06/28/2016

Wisconsin:

Blue Ox Music Festival with The Flecktones – 06/11/2016

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Yiddish Folksongs: Orchestra of the Jewish Theatre Bucharest (CD)

 

Yiddish Folksongs: Orchestra of the Jewish Theatre Bucharest (CD)

 

Conductor: Chajim Schwartzmann; International Passport; Laserlight Digital 15 185. (p) 1990 Delta Music Inc., Los Angeles, CA, 90064. © 2002 Delta Entertainment Corporation; 1663 Sawtelle Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90025. Laserlight Digital is a registered trademark of Delta Entertainment Corporation. According to Wikipedia.org (accessed April 11, 2016), the company filed for a reorganization under Chapter 11, and decided by mid-2008 upon liquidation, including the sale of 170 music licenses. The dust jacket website for Delta Entertainment didn’t come up in my search, but, instead, I found this very interesting website from the digital library at the University of Pennsylvania, listing extensive notes corresponding to the album and CD, including transliterations of the Yiddish, and other unique information:

(http://digital.library.upenn.edu/webbin/freedman/lookupalbum?catlg=B-051(a))

 

Wow, does this take one to another era. It’s a good thing, too, because nobody’s culture should be systematically eliminated, as the Germans tried to do to the Jews by barring their participation in the arts in Germany during various phases in their history, but especially during the Nazi regime, leading to the murder of six million Jews.

 

Each song represents the European settlement period following our expulsion from Spain, ordered by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1492. Heading East across Europe, we settled mainly in the areas of Germany and Poland (Russia would do the same, transferring us to a slim area of its territory called the Pale of Settlement, essentially the first Jewish ghetto).

 

Generally blessed with a sardonic sense of humor and optimism, we infused our song during this period with appropriate emotion reflective of our inner drive to rise above our situations. And yes, despite the worst, we have.

 

  1. A Ngindl (2:49) – female
  2. Gei ich mir spazim (1:48) – female
  3. Leig ich mir mein kepale (3:05) – female
  4. Iamce ram ciam (1:35) – man / Really good
  5. Di Mame is gegangn (2:27) – female
  6. Inter a klein Beimale – male
  7. Di Warnicikes – female / I hear something about “schmaltz” (fat) in this
  8. Ein mul ti ich si banaien (2:42) – male
  9. Lomir singen ciri bim, ciri bom (2:43) – male and female
  10. Wus dergeisti mir di lurn (3:22) – male and female
  11. Oi Awram (1:16) – female
  12. Di Mame kocht Warenikes (1:43) – male
  13. Mamaniu, liubeniu (3:53) – female / The best “Oy!” at the end
  14. Mit a Nudl un a Nudl (2:17) – male
  15. Asoj wie-s is bitter (2:40) – female
  16. Bin ich mir a Schneiderl (1:25) – male / Good representation of humor and emotion, like Italian
  17. Meheteineste meine (2:29) – female
  18. Wus-je wilsti? (2:13) – male and female

 

Singers:

1, 7: Rochele Schapira

2, 3, 5: Nuscha Grupp-Stoian

11, 13, 17: Leonie Waldmann-Eliad

4, 14: Dorian Livianu

6, 9, 10, 18: Bebe Bercovici

8, 12, 16: Carol Marcovici

9, 10, 15, 18: Trici Abramovici

 

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Putumayo Presents South Africa

Putumayo Presents South Africa

Putumayo World Music (p) and ©2010 Putumayo World Music. (http://www.putumayo.com)

Missing liner notes.

 

1. Soul Brothers – Ujaheni

Good song about moonbeams, or something…

 

2. Bholaja – Mbombela

Hey la’Osteen! Island-vibe; nice tune. I like this singer’s voice.

 

3. Mahube – Oxam

Xylo-centric; starts off Christmas-y. Beta-wey (Better Way?)

 

4. Blk Sonshine – Nkosi

Really cool – Sounds like human mouth instruments. Then it’s a rap-slide jazz thing. In English.

 

5. Nibs van der Spuy – Beautiful Feet

English lyrics. Reggae-plucked Flamenco-cooled. Weird.

 

6. Steve Dyer – Mananga

Fast-moving familiar tune done in a hoot-like way. Instrumental only.

 

7. Miriam Makeba – Orlando

Sounds like old-time 20’s/30’s/40’s flapper and War Era sister groups (like the Andrews sisters) in African language. Miriam Makeba receives a brief mention in Andrew Hussey’s book, The French Intifada: The Long War Between France and Its Arabs, on page 215, and is described as an anti-apartheid militant, mentioned in the context of having attended the first Pan-African Cultural Festival in Algeria in 1969.

 

8. Phinda – Tiki Tiki

It does sound like African take on Polynesia emerging from the ’40’s and ’50’s.

 

9. Johannes Kerkorrel – Halala Afrika

Acoustic guitar, Dutch folk-style, with Ha-la-la Afrika background.

 

10. Zoro – Work

Reggae. I think I’ve heard this tune before. Cliff? Marley? Tosh? Sounds too low and too harsh – Guess it makes a point.

 

11. Kaya – Vulamasango Mandinke

I like it. Very rich in vocals.

 

12. Soweto Gospel Choir – Ngahlulele

The high voice is so round and able. A good fit for the closing song of the album (CD).

 

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Anthology of World Music: The Music of Afghanistan

 

Anthology of World Music: The Music of Afghanistan; (p) International Institute for Traditional Music (Berlin). Originally issued as the UNESCO collection. Original Fifty Albums of Anthology of Traditional Music of the World, published by Barenreiter Verlag/Musicaphon. © 2003 Rounder Records Corp.; One Camp Street, Cambridge, MA, 02140. (http://www.rounder.com/) email: (info@rounder.com) Rounder-82161-5121-2. Commentary by Professor Alain Danielou (1902-1994). Edited for the International Music Council by the International Institute for Comparative Music Studies and Documentation (Founder, and first Director, Professor Alain Danielou). Succeeding Prof. Danielou was Professor Ivan Vandor.

The dust-jacket of this c.d. notes the many influential elements of the countries surrounding Afghanistan upon its music, including ancient forms of Greek, Iranian, Turkish, Indian, Russian, Roma folk music, and even stylings resembling those of the European Middle Ages! It’s no wonder, considering that Afghanistan is situated almost at the juncture of where these civilizations meet.

Some of the instruments used in these recordings include: versions of a Lute, known to them as: Tumbur (plucked); Dambura (two-string); Dotar (three-string); Bowed Instruments: Ritchak (popular in the North); Sarinda (popular in the South); Drums: Dhol (two-sided); Zer-Berhali (one-sided); Doirah (tambourine); Sornai (oboe; found in tombs of Sumer; “Sahnai,” in India); Tula (flute); Cheng (called a “Jew’s Harp” and said to be known all over the Orient).

In totality, this is a very nice sampling of Afghan (Afghani) music.

  1. Song of Kataran (Turkestan) (4:49): Oldish, chanty, based on a few notes which makes it mildly hypnotic. Makes me think of what might be the sound of northern India, except on a lower voice range, mixed so because it headed west.
  2. Song of Badarshan (3:06): Sounds like a regal, Renaissance processional march, conducted in the outer courtyards of perhaps a Persian or Turkish ruler.
  3. Melody for Flute from Turkestan (2:40): Really interesting, small flute adds to its trill-like characteristics.
  4. Festive Music from Chardi (in the region of Kabul) (3:53): Somehow, what seems to be like a major tune-up session for the horn section in the orchestral pit emerges to several thematic tunes. This mish-mash works.
  5. Chant from Azarejot (Central Afghanistan) (5:40): Rolling music sounds great and is suddenly punctuated by discordant vocals. Startling, at first, it immediately settles in and blends together in a very nice, almost African-style sound.
  6. National Afghan Dance (Shah Mast) (1:55): Sounds like they’re playing giant rubber bands in the National Afghan Dance.
  7. Chant from Farkhar (4:48): This one sounds more typically Arabic to me, though it’s sung in “Persian” and is said to be in the Greek genre familiar in Persian, Arabic, and Greek music.
  8. Village Dance Melody (of the region of Kabul) (1:59): Soft with drums predominant and balailaika-reminiscent banjo-like strumming.
  9. Pushtu Quatrain (Charbait) (4:15): Familiar Greek-like style found in Arab refrain.
  10. Ancient Chant of Kabul (3:21): This sounds like a man calling plaintively upon the woman he seeks to court. I wonder what it really says?
  11. Ancient Chant of Khodaman (2:37): Very emotional singing — Why don’t we have such intense feelings like this anymore? Have we become too desensitized?
  12. Tumbur (Lute) Solo (3:45): Instrumental song only; played with Tumbur and Zer-Berhali acting in consonance with each other, extremely tightly.
  13. Ghazni Chant (2:09): I think I’ve heard this tune with some other different background — I’m thinking one of the popular Israeli singers, like Eyal Golan, Moshik Afia, Moshe Peretz or Dudu Aharon.
  14. Chorus from the Panshir (3:12): Repetitive talk-singing and clapping; I don’t hear the doirah (tambourine) that’s supposedly supposed to be playing in this song.
  15. Solo of Sarinda (2:55): This is nice. It’s another Instrumental with bow instruments supposedly in the Roma mode, but I don’t really hear it.
  16. The Dotar (Small Lute) of Herat (3:14): Instrumental; twangy and plucky, almost like an Australian didgeridoo.

 

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Abayudaya: Music from the Jewish People of Uganda

Address updated from the liner notes to correspond with website information (please verify this information before use):

Smithsonian Folkways Mail Order, PO Box 37012, MRC 520, CG 2001, Washington, D.C. 20013-7012; Phone/U.S.: (800) 410-9815, or (888) FOLKWAYS; Phone/International: (202) 633-6450; Fax/U.S.: (800) 853-9511, or (202) 633-6477; Website/(http://www.folkways.si.edu); Informational Requests (not secure for orders!): (smithsonianfolkways@si.edu). (p) and © 2003 Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. Compiled and annotated by Jeffrey A. Summit, co-author with Richard Sobol, of Abayudaya: The Jews of Uganda (New York: Abbeville Press, 2002). He is a Research Professor at Tufts University, where he also serves as Rabbi and executive director of Hillel.

Folkway Records was founded in 1948 by Moses Asch. The Smithsonian Institute acquired the collection in 1987 from the Asch estate. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings is a non-profit label “expressing a commitment to cultural diversity, education and increased understanding.”

I’m glad I wrote my comments prior to reading the CD’s liner notes and revealed my own impressions without being influenced by someone else’s thoughts. In the end, though, after hearing the entire CD and then reading the story, I must say that the story did influence my thoughts.

Nowadays in this crazy world, everybody criticizes and hates the Jews and tells them what awful people they are — so much so that the United Nations disproportionately issues resolutions against them; the Christians and others start a boycott and divestment campaign to stop others from doing business with us (the Jews), which, with the exception of oil, is the original way that the Arabs got others to boycott us and use them instead. If a business “did business” with the Jews, then the Arabs would not give that company its business; and if the Arabs were courted by foreign businessmen, then the foreign businessmen had to cease all dealings with the Jews before acquiring any Arab business! Given the Inquisition, the Crusades, the pogroms and The Final Solution against us, why on earth would anybody desire to be a part of the Jewish people?

The answer is — for the same reason that they hate us. For because G-d said that we would be His people and He would be our G-d, we are envied and despised and need to be made to look unworthy of the honor (already bestowed). That is the reason for “replacement theology,” whereby another group claims conferred status for themselves and tries to make it appear that our position (in G-d’s eyes) has been replaced.

That is why I am very wary of all those who have gone before and all those who will come since who wish to ally themselves to Judaism in claims of being Jewish. Some claim to be lost tribes, and if we get it wrong by forsaking them, we will be in sore trouble with the L-rd for doing so.

This group of people from Uganda, calling themselves ‘The Abayudaya’, does not claim Jewish lineage, but claims to be Jewish through the practice of faith. The CD notes say that, of the approximately 600 people which comprise this community, there span five Bantu ethnic and language groups: Baganda, Basoga, Bagisu, Bagwere, and Banyole. It has been long known that Christian missionaries have, for hundreds of years, been actively engaged in the proselytization of the African continent to make Christian converts of the African people. They have succeeded tremendously. Many of the Abayudaya converted to Christianity under the regime of Idi Amin. The Anglican Church Missionary Society even evangelized the Abayudaya’s founder, Semei Kakungulu, for the Anglican Church.

Kakungulu had hoped to be recognized by Britain as a king in the eastern region of Uganda, but when he was not, he joined the Malakite Protestants instead. By 1919, he is said to have embraced the concept of male circumcision on the eighth day of life, which the Malakite’s founder, Malakai, told him only Jewish people practice. He, his sons, and male followers were circumcised, and they practiced a mixed style of Biblical observance and Protestantism.

Kakungulu adapted Malakite worship music and developed the Sabbath liturgy for the Abayudaya. Their first contact with Judaism occurred when Kakungulu met a Jew named Yusuf, a trader who taught them certain prayers and blessings, elementary Hebrew, and the basics of Kosher slaughtering.

At this point, they dropped references to Jesus and the practice of baptism. Another Jewish man from Yemen, David Solomon, provided them basic Hebrew books and Jewish calendars. It is noted that they had had little contact with Jews up until the mid-1960’s.

The Abayudaya still celebrate the local traditions of their language and ethnic groups and don’t find this to be in conflict with the Jewish identity they have chosen for themselves.

In 1962, Mr. Solomon asked Arye Oded, secretary at the Israeli Embassy in Kampala, to visit them. Mr. Oded did so and arranged for prayerbooks to be sent to them. They began to restructure their worship to more closely resemble Judaic practice, but Idi Amin (1971-1979) put an end to all that.

I guessed that “Yudaya” meant having to do with the Jews; I was right — it means “Jew” in the Luganda language. The plural, “Jews,” is “Bayudaya.” “Abayudaya” means “The Jews,” repeating the definite article when referring to themselves as “The Abayudaya.”

They continue to use their African dialect languages; Hebrew is not used as a communicational language, and is not indigenous to their culture. Hebrew mistakes I noted in several places where it is used in song are referenced in the liner notes, explained as the Luganda influence adding vowels to the Hebrew pronunciation. For instance, I thought I heard an “i” sound at the end of “likrat,” which should not be there. In Hebrew, adding an “i” would mean “to me”, where it is not warranted; I also thought I heard a “u” sound added (some Hebrew dialects do seem to have this, though).

During Idi Amin’s eight- to nine-year reign of Uganda, many Abayudaya converted to Christianity, leaving only about three-hundred of the community remaining with what faith they had acquired to-date. Much of it was forgotten during this time, and they allege to have worshipped in secret, attempting to make its revival beginning in the early 1980’s with the “Young Jewish Club.”

In 1988, the Anglican School claimed Nabugoye Hill where the original Moses Synagogue was. Joab (J.J.) Keki, his brothers, and some youth formed a new group they named “The Kibbutz,” and squatted in one of the buildings on the hill. Kakungulu’s son, though, had converted to Christianity.

As representative of the Abayudaya, Keki first visited the Nairobi Jewish community in the late 1980’s, but was disbelieved. His brother, Gershom Sizomu, however, began to study with one of their members in the early 1990’s.

Many of the Abayudaya now wish to move to Israel. To be recognized formally for one who was not born into the Jewish faith, a halachic conversion must take place and would generally need to be performed by an Orthodox Rabbi. Three Conservative and one Reform Rabbi went in 2002 there to perform conversion for more than 350 members of the community.

Kakungulu divided the Song of Moses into eight songs, which was the basis for Abayudaya worship in the early 1980’s; new compositions were created later on by the Young Jewish Club and were based on various sources and influences: Zulu music, music of the Independent Churches in Kenya, The Salvation Army, Israel Church, and Bantu folk music. Most are sung in the Luganda language with an occasional Hebrew word added. In one of the songs on their CD, they sing of “Musa,” which is the Arabic word for the Jewish Moses, whom the Muslims consider a prophet. The Psalms were all originally sung in Luganda, but they are now starting to be increasingly sung in Hebrew.

Popular African music also plays a role in shaping the composition of Abayudayan music. They seem to prefer their own compositions and liturgy over incorporating traditional Jewish music and prayer services into their own. It does not seem to me to be part of the Jewish community when tradition is held in such disregard, in deference to secular, non-religious factors. What has held all Jews together, despite differences in worship style, are certain prayers and traditions which cannot just be jettisoned and its results considered Jewish at the same time. While Reform and Orthodox practice, on outward appearance, seem to be unrelated at-best, the premise of Judaism remains essentially, at its core, the same.

In a dustjacket photo, the menorah crafted by one of their people is a symbolic rendition only — a metal sculpture without a place for candles or oil. We use a chanukkiyah to commemorate the Hasmonean Jewish victory more than 2000 years ago over the occupying Roman pagan forces, when we recouped our Temple and resanctified it with the cruze of Holy oil found there, which burned eight days, ensuring enough time for additional oil to be produced. The chanukkiyah, used only for this festival commemoration, has eight place-arms to represent each day for which the light was kindled, plus one holder more for the lead candle. There is to always burn an eternal flame kept lit in the Temple.

I don’t know whether the Abayudaya have been formally recognized, but without going through an Orthodox conversion, it seems unlikely to be a possibility, despite everyone’s best wishes. They insist on maintaining their own traditions and not adopting the other Jewish ones. They are adamant about that. So, what makes that Jewish? To me, that pretty much makes it… Bantu.

1) Psalm 136 (3:24) – Beautiful in phases I and II (upbeat mode). Swahili Mapambio style used in evangelical Churches throughout East Africa. Composed by J.J. Keki.

2) Katonda Oyo Nalimana (G-d is All-Knowing) (4:09) – Crazy drums, crazy chanting, frantic clapping and crazy yips (as in, “whoo-whoo” crazy). So crazy, singers even do the “whoo-whoo” screaming where you pat your lips with your flat hand. Undignified. A traditional song of the Basoga people with improvised words in Luganda (as they traditionally are in this style and context).

3) Hiwumbe Awumba (G-d Creates and then Destroys) (2:31) – Crazy music-box ukelele-sounding song with bird-twittering in the background. Mentions airplanes, bicycles, cars and death. By Michael Mausoni, whose own family are Christian converts. Similar to 1990’s-style sounds. Umm……………….

4) Mwana Talitambula (The Child Will Never Walk) (1:18) – A child singing about a child who will never walk. I like this. The child uses vocalizations as if it were an instrument. Lusoga text based on local traditions.

5) Mwana, Ngolera (Baby, Keep Quiet) (0:49) – An older child in a deeper tone singing rhythmically, as if an instrument. Lunyole text based on local traditions.

6) Tulo, Tulo (Sleep, Sleep) (0:52) – One singer, singing softly, “Sleep, sleep.” Very nice. Popular Baganda lullabye, Luganda text. “Sleep, sleep, take the child. If you don’t, then you are a witch! I want to go dancing, change my life. You only live once.” Sounds like typical American crap from too-young parents with children, who still want to party and foist their children on others. Not Jewish values at all.

7) I am a Soldier (0:46) – Lots of children singing that they’re a soldier in the Army of the L-rd. (In English). This song made me angry. I feel they are mocking Israel and Jews with their English, saying they are a soldier in the L-rd’s Army. It comes across very poorly, as if it was meant to. Indeed, it was a Pentecostal Church song to which they added the final verse, “in the Army of the L-rd” to supposedly make it “Jewish”.

8) Mi Khamokha (Who is Like You, O, G-d?) (0:18) – Parts of a Hebrew prayer. Different than I’m used to. Different melody, as theirs is composed by Aaron Kintu Moses. (One verse, in Hebrew).

9) Kabbila (The Patch of Forest) (3:49) – Repetitive. Woman’s voice too shrill for my ears. Traditional Baganda folk song, text in Luganda.

10) Twagala Torah (We Love the Torah) (1:33) – Text in Luganda, English and Hebrew. Melody and Luganda text by Moses Sebagabo.

11) We are Happy (3:25) – An actual song with accompaniment, singing ‘they’re happy’. Village guitar music, keyboards, occasional drums and adungu (harp) about Purim, with improvised lyrics to mark occasion of the festivity. Composed by Gershom Sizomu. (In English).

12) Adon Olam (Master of the World) (1:53) – I nod in praise. Hebrew text. Melody by Gershom Sizomu.

13) Lekhah, Dodi (Come, My Beloved) (5:21) – I think I hear some Hebrew mistakes. Hebrew text, sung in Hebrew. Melody by J.J. Keki.

14) Psalm 92 (4:59) – Sounds like they’ve received some coaching from Missionary Christians teaching hymns. Composed by Jonadav Keki (J.J. Keki and Gershom Sizoku’s father). Influenced by Protestant worship. Text in Luganda.

15) Psalm 93 (2:44) – Another Christian hymn-sounding song. (“Musa?”). Text in Luganda. Melody by Jacob Mwosuko.

16) Kiddush and Motzi (Sabbath Blessing over Wine and Bread) (1:11) – The blessings over bread and wine (different tunes than I’m used to). (In Hebrew). Melody by Gershom Sizomu.

17) Psalm 121 (1:31) – With jingle bells! Text in Luganda. Melody by Miriam Keki (1980’s).

18) Maimuna (2:13) – Crazy yips, ululations, whistles — too much! J.J.Keki’s campaign song for chairman of Namonyonyi subcounty. He first ran unsuccessfully in 2000, and then again at a later date, after 9/11/2001, which was successful (Keki was walking up to the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001, when the first plane hit the tower). Based on a modified version of a Bagisu circumcision song, although Abayudaya do not participate in Bagisu circumcision rituals, but have close contact with them. Maimuna is a woman’s name. “Maimuna, the animal is in the trap. Maimuna, ‘Where are we going?’ You are required to go to school before you obtain leadership positions.” The final line is sung with an alternated response: “J.J.”, “Keki”. This sounds like the situation they were in under British Colonial rule, not Judaism.

19) Hinei Ma Tov (Behold How Good it is for Brothers to Dwell Together) (1:23) – Hebrew mistakes again (adding an “i” after a word where it doesn’t really belong, and a “u”). Different tune, also. Text in Luganda and Hebrew. Group composition of the Young Jewish Club in the 1980’s.

20) Ali Omu Yekka (My Only One) (4:45) – A song with musical accompaniment. It’s very nice. Some words include: “My Beloved”, ” My Doctor”, “My Wealth… the only one I choose”. Sounds rather like stereotyping of the Jews, no? Sounds like a choice based on acquiring traits by association, as if talismanic, no? Text in Luganda by J.J. Keki. Melody by J.J. Keki.

21) Psalm 150 (3:33) – I started singing along; I must know some of the tune. Text in Luganda, with last verse in Hebrew. Melody by J.J. Keki.

22) Deuteronomy 32:8 / Song Two (Selection) (0:35) – A chant. Text in Luganda. Adapted by Kakungulu, founder of the Abayudaya, from Malakite melodies. This song is no longer used, except at sad occasions.

23) Deuteronomy 32:39 / Song Eight (3:35) – Slow singing by men. Text in Luganda (some seemed to sound like Arabic: I thought I heard the word, “Sura,” meaning, ‘Chapter.’). Adapted by Kakungulu, founder of the Abayudaya, from a Malakite melody. Sung by J.J. Keki, Gershom Sizomu, Aaron Kintu Moses, and their mother, Devorah (they are one family). This song is no longer used, except at sad occasions.

24) Psalm 130 (1:52) – A little ditty. Text in Luganda. Melody by Yael Keki. This song is only used for sad occasions.

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Loreena McKennitt: A Mediterranean Odyssey

Loreena McKennitt: A Mediterranean Odyssey

Manufactured by The Verve Music Group, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc., 1755 Broadway, New York, NY 10019. Distributed by Universal Music Distribution. Worldwide copyright Quinlan Road Music Ltd., p & © 2009 Quinlan Road Limited. (www.quinlanroad.com) or P.O. Box 933, Stratford, ON Canada N5A 7M3. 800-361-7959 (U.S.); +1-519-273-3876 (Outside U.S.).

From the ethereal, Middle-Eastern styled opening notes of this beautifully-gifted soprano singer, to the slightly Celtic stylings and lilting selections, Ms. McKennitt evokes imagery of a Mediterranean travel journey with this limited-edition, commemorative 2-disc set.

The first CD, entitled ‘The Olive and the Cedar’, culls songs from previous albums with evocative names conjuring a distant past, such as: “The Ancient Muse,” and “The Book of Secrets.”

The second CD is a 2009 recording of their Mediterranean concert tour.

Besides her angelic voice, Ms. McKennitt’s talent extends to both producing and musicianship, as well, adding the harp, the accordion, keyboards and piano to this already amazing force. ‘Marco Polo’, the song, sounds fairly “Jewish” to me and also conjures a camel caravan in the imagination.

Her appearance brings to mind the visage of Stevie Nicks, while her song, ‘Santiago’, brings to mind a female version of ‘Skating Away’ (On The Thin Ice Of The New Day) by Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. One of the songs you’re already familiar with is called ‘The Mummer’s Dance’ — it was a megahit on the radio and you’ll know it when you hear it.

This is a nice album to add to the collection — in fact, it’s pretty much a standout.

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