Monday, July 20, 2009

Idan Raichel Concert

This evening my friends and I went to the Idan Raichel concert at the Israel Museum's sculpture garden. It was a perfect Jerusalem evening, with a comfortable breeze and a few stars scattered across the sky. In attendance were a mixture of young and old, secular and religious. Idan Raichel is a most unlikely image. He is of Ashkenazi roots but looks more like a Rastafarian. His songs are sung in Hebrew, Amharic (Ethopian) Arabic, Ladino and even English. He plays the electric keyboard and accordion. There is a mixture of instruments: electric guitars, oud (Arab guitar), flute, clarinet, shofar, and an array of percussion (my favorite being what appeared to be an upside down wooden salad bowl in a pale of water). It is a mixture of Middle Eastern, Latin and Ethiopian music. He appears to be like my favorite Johnny Clegg, who as a Jewish youth in South Africa combined the sounds of Zulu with English lyrics--years before Paul Simon's Graceland. I have no doubt we will hear more about Idan Raichel. Go to his website for more information about his work and watch this trailer to get a feel about his band's extraordinary trip to Ethiopia. This evening's concert began with the words: erev tov Yerushalayim--gooood evening Jerusalem! To my ears I still hear prayer when I hear Yerushalayim, but this evening's concert was instead the living reality of Israeli life. It is not a prayer. It is a mixture of cultures and languages, black and white, Ashkenazi and Sephardi, Hebrew and Arabic, English and Amharic.

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