Israel's jazz legend owes it all to his mum

By Anthea Gerrie, April 22, 2010

A gothic chapel in Islington may seem an odd place for a Jewish boy to play his double-bass, but for Avishai Cohen the north London venue for his concert next week could not be better.

"I've had nice offers from Ronnie Scott's, but I don't play clubs anymore," explains the 40-year-old who has become a huge presence on the Israeli jazz scene. His music has become so spare and unplugged, churches and concert halls - where the acoustics are such that every note can be heard perfectly - are the only spaces where he feels comfortable performing.


An indie band that's Yuck, but in a good way

By Elisa Bray, April 8, 2010

At a Seder night a few years ago, a teenager was talking about his schoolmates who had won a battle of the bands and were now being hotly tipped by the music press. To the guests' delight he suggested the band in question, the five-piece, Cajun Dance Party, all from north London, be renamed Kosher Dance Party, so Jewish was their make-up.

Since then, Cajun Dance Party have split up, and singer Daniel Blumberg and bassist Max Bloom have formed a new band called Yuck.


The Ladino songs that add fun to Pesach

By Lawrence Joffe, April 1, 2010

High in the Himalayas the Dalai Lama once met a group of rabbis. After their encounter he was asked what single aspect most impressed him about Judaism, and he immediately replied: the Passover Seder. Maybe, he mused, Tibetan Buddhists could adopt a similar home-based ceremony for re-enacting their own people's chequered history?


The cellist takes a bow

By Gita Conn, March 18, 2010

When the conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier re-routed his bouquet to "the sweet cellist at the back" he was paying tribute to an obvious, but rarely acknowledged, truth. Accolades are gifted to conductors and soloists, but their performances can only succeed with the individual and collective efforts of the musicians in the orchestra.


I played Chopin as they sent my family to their deaths

By Jessica Duchen, March 11, 2010

At the age of 106, the concert pianist Alice Sommer Herz is an international celebrity. But despite playing in front of audiences all over the world, perhaps what is most remarkable about her life is her continued capacity for hope in the face of unimaginable suffering.

In 1943, with her husband and their six-year-old son, she was deported from Prague to the Nazis' "model" concentration camp at Terezin; her music helped to sustain her spirit there and throughout her astonishing life.


Review: Ghost Stories

By John Nathan, March 4, 2010

Is it possible to feel fear in the theatre? Yes it is, if Jeremy Dyson’s and Andy Nyman’s evening of terror tales is anything to go by. It takes the form of a lecture delivered by paranormal expert Prof Goodman (Nyman) who relates stories of ghostly encounters experienced by others, and one that happened to him when he was a boy and called by his schoolmates “Jewy Goodman”. Despite the jibe, it was not he who was the victim there. Take a cushion, and I don’t mean to sit on.


The Orthodox rapper mashing up culture

February 25, 2010

First Matisyahu fused Orthodox Judaism and black music with his kosher version or roots reggae; now an observant hip hop artist is causing a stir on the rap scene. At first glance, Eprhyme - aka Eden Pearlstein - seems an unlikely hip hopper. He comes not from the 'hood but from a middle-class home in Washington state. But he started to listen to hip hop as a child and by the age of 14 (he is now 30) he was rhyming and freestyling. The religion part came later, he says, speaking ahead of his concert at Sandys Row Synagogue in London next week.


The legend plays on

By Jessica Duchen, February 25, 2010

When the Beaux Arts Trio announced last year that it was disbanding, music-lovers the world over felt that it was the end of an era. Since 1955, without pause, the Trio had been the life and soul of the chamber music world, playing its way into listeners' hearts with irrepressible vigour and making more than 50 recordings. But only one of its three members remained constant over its entire lifespan - the pianist Menahem Pressler.


Klezmer band Moishe's Bagel

February 5, 2010

Moishe’s Bagel may play klezmer but they are not your typical barmitzvah band. Although all the musicians enjoy performing Eastern European music, their backgrounds are eclectic.

“The fiddle player is a violinist with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the percussionist is a student of tabla and Indian percussion, and the bass player is a jazz musician from Brazil,” says pianist Phil Alexander, the only member with a background in Jewish music.


A vision of a rabbi inspired me to sing

By Simon Round, January 21, 2010

Many people feel they have a vocation for their jobs but few in showbusiness have actually experienced a calling. But this happened to Daniel Cainer, who had what he describes as “a vision” which compelled him to perform.

Cainer, who for the past two years has been touring with his successful show Jewish Chronicles, says the original idea of writing and singing Jewish-inspired songs came to him in a rather unexpected way.