Music

Interview: Matisyahu

By Alex Kasriel, October 8, 2009

Critics might have initially dismissed him as a novelty act, but five years after Chasidic pop star Matisyahu emerged on the scene, he has proved he is not just grabbing attention because of his peyot and black hat.

Popular with the music press, he has picked up thousands of devoted fans across the world, making huge sales and regularly topping the Billboard charts in the United States. This success cannot be just because he does not conform with the usual swaggering rock and reggae stars that normally grace the stage and MTV screen.

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Hallelujah! Leonard Cohen’s Israeli triumph

By Jenni Frazer, October 1, 2009

When Leonard Cohen drew back from the stage slightly at the end of his marathon three-and-a-half-hour set in Ramat Gan, and recited the Birkat Cohanim — the blessing of the priests — complete with outstretched arms of benediction, there was a collective sigh from the enraptured crowd.

It was a sign that Israel’s often battered sense of itself still had a moral basis. Here, after all, was one of our own, come back in triumph.

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Review: Barbra

By Paul Lester, October 1, 2009

Love Is The Answer
Sony Music

With 140 million records sold, Barbra Streisand is the world’s most popular Jewish entertainer. She is also arguably the most popular entertainer among the world’s Jews. For a generation of a certain age she is unquestionably the last word in class and sophistication, and she has endured because she has continued to release music of quality and distinction without pandering to trends. Anyone expecting an album of high-tech R&B should probably alight here.

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Klezmer for the 21st century

By Alex Kasriel, September 24, 2009

Klezmer band Oi Va Voi have a strikingly different lead singer. She is the child of immigrants to Britain, although Bridgette Amofah’s parents are from Ghana rather than Lithuania, and she was brought up as a good Catholic girl.

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Review: Klezmer at Jazz Café

By Lawrence Joffe, August 17, 2009

What do you get when you combine the celebrated classical clarinettist Emma Johnson with the serried ranks of Klezfest Jewish music practitioners? Air on a K-String might be one answer. Yet the truth, as revealed at the Jazz Café last Wednesday night, was considerably more dynamic, surprising and downright funky.

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Philip Glass: Finally being taken seriously?

By Nicola Christie, August 6, 2009

It is astonishing when you think about it. The world’s most significant living composer — we can argue about this later — gets his first Prom at the age of 72. Consider who he has worked with — Ravi Shankar, David Bowie, Yo-Yo Ma, Paul Simon, Robert Wilson, Allen Ginsberg, Woody Allen, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese. Just because the greatest film directors in the world queue up to work with him does not diminish Philip Glass’s classical credentials — it is a testament to the greatness of his music that all the greats want him to score their films.

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Tuning up to be Brit pop's next big thing

By Alex Kasriel, July 23, 2009

Standing prettily centre stage in a prom dress, fresh make-up and strumming on a ukulele, she is reminiscent of June Carter in Walk The Line. Like Carter, Tamara Schlesinger’s music has a country feel. But her band’s sound is more modern, containing influences from klezmer and calypso to Afro and Latin music.

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Sacred sells for Israeli musicians

By Nathan Jeffay, July 2, 2009

Given that she is one of Israel’s most popular musicians, Etti Ankri’s latest album may seem a little esoteric: it consists entirely of poems by the 12th-century philosopher, Rabbi Yehuda Halevy.

But Ms Ankri is not taking a gamble. In mainstream Israeli music today, sacred means sales.

Last year, a collection of songs based on the teachings of the 18th- and 19th-century Chasidic master Rabbi Nachman of Breslev reached gold album status, with buyers across the religious spectrum.

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Ronnie Scott, jazz’s coolest Jew

By Gerald Jacobs, July 2, 2009

If memory is — as it is often described — a “storehouse”, then it is an exceptionally disordered one. Much of its most valuable material is covered in dust and darkness, while small, incidental items tumble out at the merest hint of a fragrance, the sight of a photograph or, especially, the sound of a bar or two of music.

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Fame? We step to another beat

By James Martin, June 25, 2009

As a teenager, Nick Ingram knew Amy Winehouse. Growing up in the same part of north London, they performed together in shows for the local Jewish youth group. So it is entirely appropriate that Ingram’s first foray into the world of pop should be about the ravaging effects of fame.

The 26-year-old musician from Southgate is one half of The Yeah You’s, tipped to be the big band of the summer. He and 31-year-old Mike Kintish, from Broughton Park in Manchester, have just released their debut single, 15 Minutes, which is receiving rave reviews from, among others, Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles.

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