The New Sound of Sephardim
check it: For the past five years, the Sephardic Music Festival has showcased everything from folkdance to electronica to hard rock and reggae. This year, the festival will take place during the eight nights of Hanukkah, from December 1-8, in New York City (and soon thereafter in Los Angeles).
But what about those of us in the rest of the world?
Fortunately, Diwon–the Yemenite-Israeli Jewish DJ who created the festival–has assembled a CD with 18 of the best artists the festival has to offer. The compilation includes Yair Dalal, a virtuoso on the Israeli oud (a sort of half-guitar, half-lute), dance pioneers Electro Morocco, and Matisyahu, who isn’t Sephardic, but still puts on a hell of a show. (The chorus of Matisyahu’s included track comes from an ancient Yemenite song, so it makes the cut.)
Our favorite track, “Ven Hermosa,” comes from Pharaoh’s Daughter. It’s a Ladino song which sounds like a cross between a Spanish bolero and a Hasidic niggun. The CD goes from relaxing to abrasive, soothing to rocking out, but it’s never jarring or uncomfortable. It’s like going to a once-a-year concert festival–except that it starts anew every time you press play.