Thursday, January 22, 2009

Shuli Rand's Concert Vid

Shuli Rand started a tour in Israel last night, with a packed concert in Betzalel Theater, just a corner from my house. He will be performing another 4 or so shows in the coming days, and I was lucky to attend the very first one.
I went to the Carlebach Yartzeit concert last month, and I can safely say that Rand's was waaay better. Firstly the production was simple but perfect, not the usual cheesy JM sound. Here we had 5 excellent players - the piano was a great idea, and the violin + guitar combination rocks. And Shuli Rand was in perfect sync and performed really well.
Granted, he doesn't have a Lipa-like presence - he doesn't moves much, no jumping, white bekechers, but the man has charisma and most importantly, talent.
He played all the songs from his album, Nekuda Tova, and the crowd was singing along the whole time.
And he also showcased three of the songs of his upcoming album; one of them you can hear in the video, a very solid and unusual rock song.
Rand's songs will only interest listeners who have a good Hebrew, since his lyrics are very complex. So the US will be out of his reach. But for those of you who like good music, Shuli Rand created a new genre - "story-telling mellow music" (or something like that) - and you shouldn't pass this one.
I recorded with my N95 (great phone!) camcorder, so the video quality is poor. But the sound is decent. Enjoy

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Who's the New Chazzan?

Naftali Hershtik left his post post as the Chief Chazzan of the Jerusalem Great Synagogue two weeks ago and the rumor season has begun regarding who will be taking his place. Hershitk was there for 30+ years, with striking success, and I will for sure miss him (the BEST falsetto) but now is the time for a new face and no one knows who will be the chosen one. The Gabbaim have announced that in the next two months there will be numerous guest Chazzanim - maybe some sort of trials, I don't know. This blog is not really focused in Chazzanut, but Chazzanut is becoming a genre of interest for so many JM fans, including me, and I decided to put together a list of possibilties.

Chazzan Adler
Chances: [Very High] UPDATE: High
Why: Adler, the Chief Chazzan of the Tel Aviv Great Synagogue, comes very often to daven in the Jerusalem Great Synagogue and the public loves him. He is an easy-going guy, charismatic and different - he's a Ger Chassid, although he davens in Baruch. He has a great voice, power and range. You can hear one of his many youtube videos here.

Chazzan Motzen
Chances: [High] UPDATE: Very High
Why: Motzen is considered the best Chazzan today and although he currently lives in Bal Harbor, FL, he is Israeli and I guess he wouldn't mind to come back for such a chashuv post. He comes to the Great Synagogue at least twice a year as a guest Chazzan and the house is always absolutely packed - he was the guest Chazzan just last Shabbos. Motzen composed many Chazzanut pieces, like his famous Av Harachamim, and he is simply the most complete Chazzan out there. It would be amazing to have him as the Chief Chazzan!

Chazzan Schwartz
Chances: Medium
Why: Azi Schwartz is a former member of the Great Synagogue choir and he is an insider. Despite his relatively young age he has been around and held the post of second Chazzan of the Park East Synagogue, NY, for quite some time. The first Chazzan of Park East, as you probably know, is none other than Helfgott, so Azi is well-rated. Azi moved back to Israel just a few months ago and is "available", so if the board decides to bet in a rising star, Azi will be the guy. He has lots of potential, charisma and already is a great Chazzan. Additionally, he would probably maintain the Shul's nusach, which is always a plus.

Chazzan Helfgott
Chances: Very Low
Why: Helfgott never actually davened in front of the Great Synagogue's amud so I think is quite impossible for him to be the chosen one.

Benny Friedman’s Kulanu Nelech Album Review

Benny Friedman’s latest album, Kulanu, is out on Spotify, and as a paying subscriber I enjoyed listening to this album quite a bit, to the e...