Thursday, October 1, 2009

Toronoto's Jaffa Road & The Huppah Project

Jaffa RoadI got an email this morning from Toronto musician, Aaron Lightstone about his two groups, Jaffa Road and the Huppah Project. Both take a world music approach to Jewish music, mixing new and traditional melodies with "Classical Arabic and Indian music, modern jazz, rock, pop, and dub."

Jaffa Road, the full band, includes Lightstone on oud, and vocalist Avaiva Chernick , bass player Chris Gartner, percussionist Jeff Wilson and sax player, Sundar Viswanathan. Like many Jewish groups that have appeared in the last few years, they lean toward a Sephardic / Mizrachi sound. Unlike the DeLeon, the Sephardic indie-rock band I saw earlier this week, Jaffa Road has a warm open sound, gentle and passionate. I particularly enjoy the tracks where they introduce rougher, staticy, electronics squawks and buzzes. It's not quite on the level of DJ Olive's work with Uri Caine, but well done and convincing. (In fact, with cantor Aaron Bensoussan joining them as a guest vocalist, their recent album Sunplace, is very reminiscent of a lighter, warmer, version of Uri Caine's ZOHAR album.)

Here's Jaffa Road in concert.

As much as I enjoyed Jaffa Road (and will have to pick up their album), I'm even more taken with The Huppah Project. Centering around the interplay of Lightstone's oud and Aviva Chernick's vocals, The Huppah Project is a collection of music inspired by Lightstone's wedding and explores Jewish wedding music from a vantage that is intensely personal and at the same time open and inclusive. I love seeing artists take the traditions seriously, but at the same time using them as a jumping off point for their own exploration.

The Huppah Project

Check out Jaffa Road and the Huppah Project, and their albums Sunplace and Under the Canopy.

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