Recorded in New York in 1968 and originally released on a private label, for the first time this lost gem gets a commercial release; Hear, O Israel – A Prayer Ceremony In Jazz
There’s been loads of ’1968′ memory stuff about with French Riots, Martin Luther King, Bra Burning but this recording has got to be one of the most unusual events. Not that a Friday night prayer concert was recorded in New York but the it was composed by a 17 year old Jonathan Klein with a Jazz sextet of some of the biggest names ever with Herbie Hancock, Thad Jones, Ron Carter, Jerome Richardson and Grady Tate.
Of course such a find could only have been made by Jonny Trunk; last seen on FLY at the time of his Michael Garrick ‘find’ (see Music For Lunatics). Mr. Trunk has really surpassed himself this time as the group is lead by Hancock with the addition of a soprano, contralto and a Rabbi!
Now if you mention soprano to me these days, I think back to Love Sublime with Ren?©e Fleming. But don’t be scared off, as since then we’ve found Steve Reich’s ‘Daniel Variations‘. And as Hear, O Israel is in Hebrew, it sounds slightly Scandinavian folkish to me (like Mooming Voices’ ‘Pikku Myyn Laulu’) or the Estonian Ensemble Collage. Particularly on the track Peterson played this week on his show ‘Matovu – Bor’chu’ (where else would play Paul Weller followed by this?)
But it’s not all singing, Hancock was 28 at the time and his playing is wonderful but there’s no bad here. It’s a shame that ‘Micho Mocho’ fades out as the band are cookin’ whilst the short ‘Kiddush’ is a samba-cancao in Hebrew! Whilst not much is known about the soprano, contralto Phyllis Bryn-Julson had worked the previous year with Teo Macero (who was mostly associated with producing Miles Davis) on a post-modern classical work New Music In Quarter-Tones; these were certainly interesting times.
I know next to nothing about Synagogues, but you wonder why there’s no jazz club applause going on. At the time Israel (the Country) had only been in existence for 20 years but from the original sleeve notes, the impetuous for this piece was the Psalmist proclamation “Sing unto the Lord a new Song”. Composer Jonathan Klein had been touring Friday nights since 1965 with this work (O for a tour t-shirt) hence all the star names in jazz are here; bearing in mind John Coltrane had released A Love Supreme (1965) and Om (1967). Jerome Richardson’s sax on ‘Adoration’ is certainly a song and his solo on ‘Sanctification’ swings spiritually. By the time Rabbi Davis gets to the ‘Torah Service’ you’ll be hard pushed not to have been touched in some religious way.
Trunk says in his sleeve notes he first heard this album in 1999 but it wasn’t until a few years later he realised how special and unique it was. Jonny’s set up a Trunk Records off-shoot for this release, Johnny, so could that be a hint there’s even more finds like this to in his bag? Let’s hope so and on reflection, “we’re all quite lucky just to have this”.
Reviewed: Herbie Hancock, Thad Jones, Ron Carter, Jerome Richardson, Grady Tate, Jonathan Klein – Hear, O Israel – A Prayer Ceremony In Jazz (Jonny Records) Cat. No. JBH025CD Release date: June 2008 Ron Carter (b), Jonathan Klein (fh, bs), Phyllis Bryn-Julson (cv), Grady Tate (d), Jerome Richardson (f, as, ts), Herbie Hancock (p), Antonia Lavvne (sv), Thad Jones (t, flh), Rabbi David Davis (reader). New Artwork by Paul Flack
1 Blessing Over The Candles (0:57)
2 Matovu – Bor’chu (6:43)
3 Sh’ma (6:20)
4 Micho Mocho (3:32)
5 Sanctification (5:29)
6 May The Words Of My Mouth (1:29)
7 Kiddush (2:41)
8 Torah Service-Adoration (9:52)
9 Fianl Amen (1:01)
BBC Radio 4 : 1968 – Myth or Reality? www.bbc.co.uk
BBC Radio 4 : Today – Thought For Today 6th June 2008 with with the Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks
Gilles Peterson :: 05 June 2008 :: Heavy Hitters: Carl Craig on Tribe
Paul Weller – ‘Black River’ (Island)
Herbie Hancock- ‘Matovu Bor’chu’ (Trunk)
BBC Radio 4 : Today – 8th May 2008
0820 The American minimalist composer Steve Reich has written a piece of music called ‘Daniel Variations‘ inspired by the life and death of the journalist Daniel Pearl.
0845 Israel is celebrating its 60th birthday today. Our Middle East correspondent Tim Franks speaks to a member of the Haredi community.
Teo Macero (October 30, 1925 -February 19, 2008) New York Times
Jonny Trunk & Wisbey – The Ladies Bras