Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Edgar Steinitz "Roots Unknown" - clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano sax

This is a recording of distinctly Jewish music, but unlike other attempts at this sort of thing it does not come off like your cousin's Bar Mitzvah band. Not when the arrangements are so well crafted, the ensemble work so intricate, and the solos so skilled and respectful. Edgar Steinitz has reached out to some sympathetic players including Portland bassist David Friesen and Seattle phenom Jay Thomas on trumpet, flugelhorn, flute and tenor sax. Thankfully, the "Jewish national anthem", "Hava Nagila", is nowhere to be found here. But Israel's national anthem, Hatikvah (The Hope), is played here; and even with a bit more tempo than usual, it's a winning rendition. Other highlights, both from the Shabbat (Sabbath) service, included "Oseh Shalom" (Peace And Wholeness) and "Mi Shebeirach", a prayer for the healing of mind, body and spirit. The thing that is so impressive here is that these songs are approached seriously and fully within the jazz context. Very hip Jewish music this is, but the Mickey Katz hi-jinx was set aside for another time.
OA2 Records; 2018; appx. 58 min.

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