Tag Archives: Israeli music

Artist Profiles: Alaev family

Alaev family

This multitalented seven-member ensemble presents an ancient rhythmic musical blend of Turkish, Persian, Chinese, Russian and Hebrew sounds. It includes Allo Alaev’s two sons, Ariel and Amin, and his grandchildren Zvika, Allen, Amir and the youngest, nine-year-old Aviva. The Alaev family’s repertoire features unique adaptations of inherited ancient Tajikistani songs and Jewish Buchharian compositions.

Allo Alaev was born in Samarkand, in 1932, a major station on the Silk Road. Samarkand stands at an ancient cultural crossroad and its music is a blend of Turkish, Persian, Chinese and Russian.

Allo’s father, Nisan, was an acclaimed singer and his mother, Adino, was considered the most brilliant doyra (frame drum) artist in the whole region of Samarcande. Alaev took up the doyra at an early age, made rapid progress and was soon appointed the first percussionist of the folk Opera Company of the Tajikistan capital Dushanbe.

During the 1960s and 70s he toured Europe, the far East and Africa as a member of several Soviet folk troupes. He received numerous international prizes for his performance. In 1991 the Alaev family immigrated to Israel and made an immediate impact on the local music scene.

Allo accomplished what so many artist wish: to continue the tradition in the family. Three generations perform together on stage and create an intimate and happy feast of music. The presence of the younger generation connect the traditional to the mainstream musical world.

Today, the multitalented ensemble includes Allo Alaev’s two sons, Ariel and Amin and his grandchildren Zvika, Allen, Amir and Aviva.

The Alaev family include in their repertory ancient Tajikistani songs and Jewish Buchharian compositions passed on in generations and now performed with their own unique adaptions.

Discography:

The Alaev Family And Tamir Muskat (Olamalé, 2011)

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Artist Profiles: David Broza

David Broza

For many years, singer-songwriter David Broza has been steadily gaining reputation throughout the world. A superstar in his homeland of Israel, he is a modern troubadour of urban folk-rock. With 19 albums to his name, many of which became gold, platinum, and multi-platinum, his popularity achieved new heights with the enormous success of his quadruple platinum album “The Woman By My Side”.
Critics, moved by Broza’s flamenco-tinged, folk-rock melodies, his keen talent for breathing musical life into sensual snippets of poetry, and his dark and sultry good looks, have been quick to label him as “a post-modern Leonard Cohen,” the “Stevie Ray Vaughn” of folk rock, and even “the Mel Gibson of Rock n’ roll.”

But while honored by the comparisons, Broza forges his own road through the music scene all over the world. His American debut album, “Away From Home” was praised by the New York Times as one of the best pop albums of the year. “Time of Trains”, his second American release, gained him recognition as one of the most important artists on the music scene all over the world. Broza has made a mission of studying the work of American writers for the past several years, haunting libraries and bookstores, “always reading with a melody in my head.”

The worldliness in Broza’s songs sets them apart from many others in the genre, and sophisticated listeners will also recognize a diversity of cultural influences in his music. The son of an Israeli/British businessman and a folk singer, he was born in Haifa, Israel (where his grandfather founded an Arab-Israeli settlement), and was raised and educated in England and Spain. Broza originally planned to become a graphic artist, and by age 17, was selling his paintings in the Rastro, Madrid’s famous Sunday flea market. However, after high school graduation, he was drafted into a three-year term in the Israeli military. Stationed away from family and friends, he began playing guitar in cafes to earn extra money, and was eventually offered a record deal. Since he still hoped to attend the Rhode Island School of Design, he declined. He later recorded a tape to promote his live shows. “Somehow, one of the songs became a #1 hit in Israel,” he explains. At age 21, he was a star, and by age 27 he was being mobbed by fans in the street as his recordings went triple platinum.

At the height of all that popularity, Broza has started forming yet another base for himself in the United States, building a strong legion of fans, and maintaining a hectic touring schedule. NowHe was an artist-in-residence at Bennington College in Vermont, and gained a wealth of respect in American literary circles and often guest lectures in college writing classes.

An activist, who is committed to several humanitarian causes, Broza was appointed a goodwill ambassador for the UNICEF. His song “Together” (co-written with Ramsey Mclean) was the theme song for the UNICEF 50th anniversary celebration in more than 148 countries.

David Broza

Meanwhile, the singer-songwriter continues to record albums in Hebrew for his Israeli fans, and travels frequently all over the world. A 1994 and 1999 live concerts recorded at the top of Massada resulted in platinum albums. His Spanish language release, “Isla Mujeres” was released in Spain and was gained superstar recognition.

David creates a unique style of multi-cultural musical blend, sung in poetic rhythms of three languages. Broza is a captivating, compelling performer who masters his guitar into submission. He is the creator of a classical suite, which has been performed with various orchestras all over the world. His concert tours include Belgium, Spain, Argentina, Germany, Venezuela, Mexico, Brazil and the United States.

Most of all, Broza remains buoyed by the self-fulfillment of living his dream. “I’m just happy to be a singer/songwriter and to be making a living from it, “he noted. “You have to be in it for the fun or you might as well sell shoes.”

Discography:

Andalusian Love Song (2015)
East Jerusalem / West Jerusalem (2014)
Third Language (2011)
Night Dawn: The Unpublished Poetry Of Townes Van Zandt (2010)
At Masada: The Sunrise Concert featuring Shawn Colvin & Jackson Browne (2007)
Broza 5 – Live at Zappa Tel Aviv (2007)
Things Will Be Better: The Best of David Broza (JMG, 2006)
Parking Completo (2006)
Hameitav, Best Of (2004)
Parking Completo (Spanish, 2004)
Todo o Nada, Spanish version of All or Nothing (2002)
All Or Nothing (2002)
Painted Postcard (2002)
Spanish Heart (2001)
Isla Mujeres – The Women’s Island (DRO East, 2000)
Matchil Linshom – Starting to Breathe (Hed Artzi, 1999)
Sodot Gdolim – Big Secrets (RGB Records, 1995)
Stone Door (RGB Records, 1994)
Second Street (RGB Records, 1994)
Elements of Love (RGB Records, 1994)
Masada Live Platinum (RGB Records, 1994)
Time of Trains (RGB Records, 1993)
Neshika Gnuv – Stolen Kiss (NMC Music, 1992)
First Collection (NMC Music, 1990)
Away From Home (RGB Records, 1989)
Poets in New York – Poetas en Nueva York (1986)
Broza (NMC Music, 1984)
Haisha Sheiti – The Woman By My Side (NMC Music, 1983)
Klaf (NMC Music, 1981)
David Broza (NMC Music, 1979)
Hakeves Ha Shisha Asar – The Sixteenth Sheep (NMC Music, 1978)
Sikhot Salon (Small Talk), (Phohokol, 1977)

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Artist Profiles: Bustan Abraham

Bustan Abraham

Bustan Abraham was founded in 1991. It was a highly acclaimed Jewish and Arab ensemble from Israel, who took the listeners on a musical exploration of the land they share and the traditions – Eastern and Western – that they were combining in a unique form of instrumental music.

Multi-instrumentalists Zohar Fresco led the band on percussion: darbuka, daff, bendir, zarb and conga drums, plus cymbals, bells, rattles, shakers, sea shells, bird whistles, chimes, and “found objects.”

Discography:

Bustan Abraham (Nada Productions, 1992)
Pictures through the painted window (Nada Productions, 1994)
Abadai (Nada Productions, 1996)
Fanar (Nada Productions, 1997)
Hamsa (Nada Productions, 2000)
Ashra, compilation (Nada Productions, 2001)
Live concerts (2003)

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Artist Profiles: Ofra Haza

Ofra Haza

Ofra Haza was one of Israel’s best known female singers. Born on November 19, 1957 in the Hatikva neighborhood in Tel Aviv, Israel, to a Jewish-Yemenite family of 8 brothers and sisters, Ofra was surrounded by traditional culture, music and the beautiful voice of her mother.

Ofra Haza’s talent was first recognized in the children’s theater group she belonged to in her poor Tel Aviv Hatikvah neighborhood. Her manager, Bezalel Aloni, who founded the Hatikva Theater group, discovered her. She earned roles as a soloist from the 1970’s and thereafter her professional career as a singer of popular music was launched.

In 1985 Ofra Haza, released her first international album, Yemenite Songs>, a collection of interpretations of devotional poetry written by 17th-century rabbi, Shalom Shabazi.

Thanks to the vision of English DJs Matt Black and Jonathan More, who sampled Ofra’s voice to add color to the song Paid in Full, by New York rappers Eric B. &Rakim, Ofra’s voice became known worldwide. It was an example of early world beat.

Ofra’s next album, Shaday, continued her international success selling over 1 million copies worldwide and receiving “The New Music Award” for the “International Album of the Year” in New York City on October 26, 1989. Her international tour continuously sold out in Europe, Canada, the United States and Japan. Ofra’s single, “Im Nin Alu,” won 1st place at the Tokyo music festival. In Germany, Ofra won the Tiegra Award (The German Grammy Awards) for singer of the year, and “Im Nin Alu” won song of the year. In 1990 Ofra performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival.

Ofra sang in Hebrew, Aramaic, English and Arabic, covering a wide range of styles, from religious hymns to songs supporting peace in the Middle East peace, with frequent evocations to her people’s past in the Yemenite desert.

In 1992 Ofra’s album Kirya was nominated for the Grammy Awards for the best album in the World Music category.

Ofra’s mystical voice was continuously sought after, as she appeared in many projects including, the soundtracks to the Prince of Egypt (1998), and The Governess (1998), Paula Abdul’s single, “My Love Is For Real,” Sisters of Mercy’s 1992 version of “Temple of Love” (sub-titled—”Touched By The Hand of Ofra Haza”), and the “Give Peace a Chance” video (1991).

Ofra Haza died in Ramat Gan on February 23, 2000 at the age of 41.

Selected Discography:

Ahava Rishona – First Love (1974)
Vehutz Mizeh Hakol Beseder – Apart from that All Is OK (1976)
Atik Noshan – Ancient Old (1977)
Shir HaShirim Besha’ashu’im – The Song of Songs (1977)
Al Ahavot Shelanu – About Our Loves (1980)
Bo Nedaber – Let’s Talk (1981)
Pituyim – Temptations (Hed Arzi, 1982)
Li-yeladim – Songs for Children (Hed Arzi, 1982)
Hai – Alive (1983)
Shirey Moledet – Homeland Songs (Hed Arzi, 1983)
Bayt Ham – A Place for Me (Hed Arzi, 1984)
Yemenite Songs (Shanachie Records, 1984)
Adamah – Earth (1985)
Shirey Moledet 2 – Homeland Songs 2 (Hed Arzi, 1985)
Yamim Nishbarim – Broken Days (1986)
Shirey Moledet 3 – Homeland Songs 3 (Hed Arzi, 1987)
Shaday (EastWest / Sire, 1988)
Desert Wind (Sire, 1989)
Kirya (Shanachie Records, 1992)
My Soul- Kol Haneshama (NMC, 1994)
Golden Album (Hed Arzi, 1995)
Ofra Haza (BMG Ariola, 1997)
Shirey Moledet, Pt. 3 (Hed Arzi, 1998)
Ofra Haza at Montreux Jazz Festival (1998)
Temptations (Hed Arzi, 2003)
Earth (Hed Arzi, 2003)
Broken Days (Hed Arzi, 2003)
Homeland Songs A+B (Hed Arzi, 2005)

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David Broza & Friends Reveal Winter 2017 Tour

Acclaimed Israeli singer-songwriter and UNICEF goodwill ambassador David Broza will be touring the United States in December 2017. Broza, who sings in Hebrew, Spanish, English, and Arabic, will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of his best-known song, “Yihye Tov” (Things Will Be Better). The popular composition was written in 1977 during the Arab-Israeli peace talks between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and has become an anthem of the Israeli peace movement.

Joining Broza on stage is a group of outstanding musicians: Berklee School of Music graduate and qanun virtuoso Ali Paris (Palestine); Jonathan Levy (Israel) on guitars; Shaul Eshet (Israel) on piano and keyboards; Berklee graduate Tali Rubinstein on recorders (USA); Yuval Lion (Israel) on drums; and on Uri Kleinman (Israel) on bass.

The tour follows the release of Broza’s album titled The Set List, a collection of studio and live recordings celebrating David Broza’s career as one of Israel’s most important cultural icons. “Yihye Tov” is represented on The Set List with a live version recorded in 2007 at Broza’s annual concert held at the symbolic fortress of Masada, and features special guests Shawn Colvin and Jackson Browne.

 

David Broza

 

Broza garnered widespread acclaim for his 2013 album East Jerusalem West Jerusalem, produced by Steve Earle, and recorded in its entirety in the Palestinian Sabreen Studio in East Jerusalem. The work, featuring a band of both Israeli and Palestinian musicians, resulted in a wonderful, intimate documentary of the same name.

The Set List also includes “The Long Road”, featuring Irish singer Maura O’Connell. The song, written by Cliff Eberhardt, was recorded in 1998, but was shelved along with the ensuing album after Broza sustained serious injuries following a car crash.

David Broza & Friends Winter 2017 Tour:

December 9, 2017 Baltimore, MD Gordon Center for Performing Arts
December 16, 2017 Boston, MA Berklee Performance Center
December 19, 2017 San Francisco, CA Regency Ballroom
December 20, 2017 La Jolla, CA Lawrence Family JCC
December 21, 2017 Santa Monica, CA Broad Theater
December 24, 2017 New York, NY 92nd Street Y
December 28, 2017 Skokie, IL North Shore Center for the Performing Arts

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Artist Profiles: Yasmin Levy

Yasmin Levy

Yasmin Levy revitalized the ancient art of Ladino singing, the Judeo-Spanish style whose songs reach back to 15th-century Spain. The Ladino singer was born Yasmin Levy in Bakaa, Jerusalem, Israel, on 23 December 1975. A ‘very small, beautiful neighborhood’, Bakaa is filled with narrow alleyways and warrens dating back many hundreds of years. The area is still a vital part of the history of this great city and, for Yasmin, her roots. She still lives in the flat to which her parents moved when they were first married. Family and roots are very important to Yasmin and juggling family and professional commitments made easier by the fact that her husband Ishay works and travels with her, playing darbuka in most of her shows and handling many of the logistical arrangements of touring. Whenever she has time off, she loves to return to Jerusalem and spend time with her mother, brothers, sister and their families.

Yasmin’s musical interests began as a child. At six years of age, she was taught to play piano and she continued with her studies until age eighteen. At twenty, she began singing seriously but it wasn’t until a year later that she made her first public performance as a guest in a concert given by her mother. Other local concerts followed but it wasn’t until world music showcase WOMEX 2002 that she made her international debut and embarked on a singing career.

 

Yasmin Levy

 

Her first album Romance And Yasmin focused on Ladino music and Turkish influences and was greatly influenced by the work of her late father Yitzhak Levy. He was born in Turkey in 1919 and, at the tender age of 3, moved with his family to Palestine. As a grown man he worked as both a composer and cantor.

After the creation of the state of Israel he was appointed head of the Ladino department at Israel’s national radio station. His life’s work was devoted to the collection and preservation of the songs of Sephardic Jews: these songs had been passed down orally from generation to generation over a period in excess of 500 years. During his lifetime he published 4 books containing Sephardic romances and another 10 volumes of liturgical songs. He also recorded many of these same songs for the national radio. Sadly, Yitzhak Levy passed away when Yasmin was little over one year old. Nevertheless she grew up knowing her father’s love for this music and his heritage as he had also taught her mother Kochava the Sephardic repertoire and she, in turn, passed the songs on to their daughter. When Yasmin was preparing her first disc Romance And Yasmin, she said she was ‘helped enormously by the books and recordings my father left behind‘.

The songs and arrangements on this first album came very naturally to the singer, based on what she had learned from home. She says: ‘The choice of songs was easy for me as they are all songs to which I have an emotional attachment’. For her second album, the highly acclaimed La Juderia, Yasmin continued her work with the Ladino tradition but began to experiment more with the flamenco influences that date back to her residence in Spain during 2002. In that year, she was awarded a scholarship by the Christina Herren Foundation to study flamenco in Seville. There she was influenced strongly by the unique singing style that she then added to her own Sephardic one.

Her much-anticipated third album Mano Suave (World Village/Harmonia Mundi) was released in October 2007 and marked a mature return to her Ladino roots. Recorded in London’s Livingston Studios in February 2007, it has Lucy Duran and Jerry Boys co-producing. Continuing Yasmin’s tradition of using the best musicians available, the new album features players from Iran, Armenia, Greece, Paraguay, Israel, Turkey and Spain. Mano Suave also features Natacha Atlas on the title track.

Yasmin’s deep, spiritual singing, passionate vocal delivery and striking good looks continue to entrance fans new and old. She has thrice been nominated for BBC Radio 3 World Music Awards and her appearance on BBC 2 TV’s Later’With Jools in November 2005 was one of the highlights of that particular series.

 

 

In March 2006, Yasmin was presented with the Anna Lindh Award for promoting cross-cultural dialogue, for her work with musicians covering three cultures and her connection with the history of Spain. The award reflects many of her hopes for the future. On a musical level, these have been distilled into the music and songs on Mano Suave. On a more global scale, she desires ‘that people will have more compassion towards each other and learn to live in harmony’.

 

 

Discography:

Romance & Yasmin (Connecting Cultures, 2004)
La Judería (Connecting Cultures, 2005)
Mano Suave (World Village, 2007)
Sentir (World Village, 2009)
Libertad (World Village 450023, 2012)
Tango (World Village 450026, 2014)
Rak Od Layla Echad (The Eighth Note, 2017)

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Shai Tsabari & the Middle East Groove All Stars to Perform at Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles

Shai Tsabari
Shai Tsabari

Shai Tsabari & the Middle East Groove All Stars are set to perform on Thursday, August 25, at 8:00 PM at Skirball Cultural Center’s Sunset Concerts.

Born in Jaffa to a family of Yemeni Jews, Israeli singer-songwriter Shai Tsabari accompanied by the Middle East Groove All Stars creates a mix of Middle Eastern music and contemporary rock.

Drawing from the diverse musical influences of Tsabari’s upbringing-his father was a cantor, his grandmother introduced him to Yemenite percussion instruments, and his older brother collected 1960s and 1970s American rock albums – Tsabari’s music combines Middle Eastern instrumentation such as the oud, dumbek, and tar with guitar, bass, drums, trombone, and electronics.

While part of Israel’s recent Arabic-influenced music revival, Tsabari takes this style into a new direction by incorporating traditional Jewish liturgy into his lyrics.

Skirball Cultural Center
2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90049
(310) 440-4500

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A Beautiful Musical Experience in East Jerusalem

East Jerusalem West Jerusalem
East Jerusalem West Jerusalem

East Jerusalem West Jerusalem, featuring David Broza, Steve Earle, Muhammad Mughrabi and Mira Awad (Film Movement, 2016)

The film East Jerusalem West Jerusalem is a documentary about the 8 day creative experience envisioned by celebrated Israeli singer-songwriter David Broza in East Jerusalem.

In early 2013, David Broza fulfilled his dream to record songs in the Palestinian side of Jerusalem with musicians from Palestine and Israel. The8-day sessions took place in the studio of Palestinian band Sabreen. The idea was to create a space for peace and to listen to each other with the hope that this will have a ripple effect.

Broza invited award-winning American singer-songwriter and activist Steve Earle as producer. Even though Steve Earle wrote a song called “Jerusalem” in the 1990s, he had never visited Jerusalem before.

Other guests included Israeli Palestinian singer, actress and activist Mira Awad; Palestinian cinematographer Issa Freij; Muhammad Mughrabi, Palestinian hip hop artist from the Shuaafat refugee camp; Israeli musicians Jean Paul Zimbris, Alon Nadel and Gadi Seri, along with other American, Israeli and Palestinian participants.

At the beginning of the film, David Broza sets the context for the project, showing the two sides of Jerusalem, and fascinating interviews. Broza sits on a rooftop with Issa Freij where they discuss their different experiences. Broza greets Steve Earle at the airport and later talks, jams and rehearses with him. There is also an interview with American record producer David Greenberg and several segments with Broza himself.

Some of the most noteworthy footage includes the shots of the musicians (and the filmmaker) rehearsing and having fun in the studio as they prepare for the recording sessions.

Broza chose to record in English, as a universal language, and the two local languages, Hebrew and Arabic. Although I don’t have the album, it is evident that that album has a mix of American folk music influences along with the Middle Eastern nuances of the ud, darbuka and kanun. Broza also adds a little flamenco spice that he picked up in Spain.

The film follows David Broza as he takes a night drive to the impoverished Shuafat refugee camp, the home of the two Palestinian rappers who collaborate on the album. It’s surprising that despite all the security measures nearby, the camp itself is pretty much on its own, without police or emergency services.

There are additional interviews with the Israeli and Palestinians where they describe their experiences. Many of them had never visited each others neighborhoods.

Broza also brought the new generations into the project, recording the voices of young singers representing the various communities.
Sadly, near the end of the film, Broza and Freij encounter a demonstration of Israelis who trade insults with the Palestinians, demonstrating that it’s hard to get away from politics and there is much more work to do.

David Broza grew up in Israel, Spain, and England. His musical influences range from flamenco to rock and Americana. He is also recognized for his commitment and dedication to several humanitarian causes, mostly, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Since 1977, Broza has released over 30 albums in Hebrew, English and Spanish, many of which have become gold and platinum albums.

In the year 2006 David Broza received the “In Search for Common Ground” award along with Palestinian musician/composer Said Murad, and in 2009 the Spanish King, Juan Carlos I, decorated him with the Spanish Royal Medal of Honor for his longtime contribution to Israel-Spain relations, and his dedication to promotion of tolerance and conflict resolution.

In 2015 Broza recorded the album “Andalusian Love Song” with the Andalusian Orchestra of Ashkelon.

East Jerusalem West Jerusalem is a remarkable project that shows how we can all get along through the language of music.

Buy the East Jerusalem West Jerusalem DVD in the Americas

Buy the East Jerusalem West Jerusalem CD in the Americas

Buy the East Jerusalem West Jerusalem CD in Europe

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Beguiling Gulaza

Gulaza - Gulaza (Gulaza Music, 2015)
Gulaza – Gulaza (Gulaza Music, 2015)

Gulaza – a word that conjures images of longing and despair under a scorching desert sun.

The first time I went to listen to this fairly newly formed band, I went out of intrigue. I came out mesmerized. I never expected them to have such an impact on me. With Igal Mizrahi on vocals, Ben Aylon on djeli n’goni and percussion, Ian Aylon on guitar and Hilla Epstein on cello, Gulaza takes you on a journey deep between Yemen and Africa as it tackles a (hopefully first) collection of centuries-old Yemenite songs, originally transmitted orally from mother to daughter. The album, which bears the same name as the group, includes a hypnotic set of five songs, which are sung for the first time by a man.

Throughout the album, Igal stamps his personality on his sources; his voice being almost erotic as it suddenly drops in range. Whether on the album, or on stage, he brings a fiery passion to these ancient texts, making them sound like poems.

Although unfamiliar with the language, I do not believe the songs’ lyrics are very elaborate. They are simple, yet full of colors, and they often include a repetitive chorus, like the beat of the heart. It is, however, the melodies, unrivalled in grace and sorrow, and the combination of instruments used on each piece which make the album so appealing. The band’s instrumental multitudes, which are cleverly combined together from an indigenous instrument like the djeli n’goni, to the cello and guitar, make these timeless songs, which are raw in nature, suddenly sound contemporary and urgent.

Whether through the djeli n’goni’s gentle or crisp and rapid melodies, the cello’s poignant use of vibrato and pizzicato, the mellow and sensuous guitar or the trance-inducing beat of the percussion, each song’s individual feel is captured. Whether it is the magical and soulful “Al’Chaiba”, the hauntingly beautiful “Salam Ya’bint”, the lyrical and playful “Pisaila”, the uplifting and more modern “Ganantani” or even the warm and soothing “Ayini Bakat”; they all convey images of longing, despair, but hope too.

With each melody, you can imagine nature’s elements veiling distant parched, sand-covered lands and through Igal Mizrahi’s soaring voice, the songs become laments for freedom and yearning for love.

Gulaza – a real little gem of an album and a name to watch out for. You will simply be beguiled by it.

Buy the digital version of Gulaza

Buy the CD edition

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