Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Final Witness: Murder, Television, and Foreboding Jewish Music

Cue the foreboding music.....

"Donnah Winger had everything she wanted: the perfect husband, the perfect job and now, after years of infertility, the perfect baby. But a chance meeting with an stranger sets in motion a series of events that leaves Donnah dead on her kitchen floor - bludgeoned with a hammer - fools authorities for years while her killer hides in plain sight."

Oh...and did I say the foreboding music is Ose Shalom?

Cut to April 2011.  I received an email from the music supervisor of the new ABC show "Final Witness." As she described it, "It's a true-crime show, but is unlike your typical true crime shows that probably come to mind, or even CSI or Law & Order. It's a show about real murders that combines interviews with friends and family members with highly cinematic visuals and music. It's high-quality and looks more like film than TV. Most importantly, it doesn't focus on the "whodunnit" or grisly aspects of the murder, but rather the emotional ties and pulls between all the characters."

She was currently working on an episode, which airs tomorrow night, titled "The Devil You Know" and tells the story of Mark and Donnah Winger, a Jewish family in suburban Springfield, Illinois.  The music supervisor was looking for "foreboding Jewish music," music with an ethereal, tragically beautiful feel. Back to the present, I wish I could say that I suggested the piece that finally made it into the program. I didn't. The show ended up using a melancholy, toy piano sounding arrangement of Ose Shalom by composer Michael Allen Harrison. (Check it out on Amazon right now, or better yet, watch the show on ABC tomorrow night (July 25, 2012) or on Hulu.com after that.)

But I tried.

After a bit of discussion I suggested a stack of tracks from around the Jewish world (see below), even hitting up Jeff Janeczko from Milken Archive of American Jewish Music and Erez from Shemspeed for suggestions. And I came up with the perfect track, Black Ox Orkestar's wonderful “Papir Iz Dokh Vays” (Check it out!). The show loved it! One of my favorite Jewish bands! But ... it was not to be. Black Ox Orkestar doesn't like Disney Corp and wasn't interested in having their music used in a program by a Disney company. AARGGHH. So close.

So Harrison's Ose Shalom it is.  Not Black Ox Orkestar, but I'm sure it will do fine. We'll see tomorrow night.

UPDATE: It's tomorrow & I watched the episode on ABC last night. True crime isn't my genre (I'm a sci-fi / science documentary guy and food network junkie) so I'll leave it to others to review it, but I thought it was well produced and interesting. I was on pins and needles waiting for Ose Shalom to show up. And it did, about halfway through in a scene where the Jewish family was sitting shiva. It was perfect, setting exactly the right tone. Well done, Final Witness!

Here's the initial list of foreboding and ethereal Jewish music I put together last summer, less a few that no longer have easy to reach internet versions. Since I wasn't sure what ABC was going to respond to the list is from across the musical map.   ...

Black Ox Orkestrar


Zahava Seewald
“Don’t be frightened my son” &  
“the daughter of god's beloved rose” - 

Ofra Haza
- Ofra Haza - Kaddish  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hQ0OkcLKuE
- Ofra Haza - Forgiveness http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKx81wrTASg

La Mar Enfortuna
- La Rosa - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQpq1b0TeGw

Regina Spektor
Eli Eli - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-8esLX-_js

Voices of Eden
Eli Eli - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IK8DLS40yrI

Alan Goldberg 
Twilight Niggun from Chasing Stray Flames - http://www.amazon.com/Twilight-Niggun/dp/B0016IO2MM

 “Baruch Shem” from Music for the Kabbala - http://www.amazon.com/Baruch-Shem/dp/B003PT4946

Consuelo Luz
Mar de leche or Kabbalah: Torah, from Adio - http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/consueloluz3

Ana El Na from Coming Home - http://www.amazon.com/Ana-El-Na/dp/B0040PYOGC

Forgiveness: Traditional Jewish Prayers With Contemporary Experimental Electronic Music

Erez vs Erez Yechiel
Tikkun Klali - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81s2GYNCb9Y


Adiranne Greenbaum
Nign or Mourner’s Kaddish from FleytMuzik - http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/greenbaum3

Alexandria Kleztet
Eli, Eli - http://www.amazon.com/Delusions-Klezmer-Alexandria-Kleztet/dp/B0000682XX

Andy Statman
Maggid - http://www.amazon.com/Between-Heaven-Earth/dp/B000S54TRW

Nokhspil (kale bazigns) - http://www.amazon.com/Wedding-Without-Bride-Budowitz/dp/B00004YRA0

Crackow Klezmer Band
Holef - http://www.amazon.com/Bereshit-Cracow-Klezmer-Band/dp/B0000C0FCV

Mipney Ma or Dybbuk Shers - http://www.amazon.com/Possessed-Klezmatics/dp/B00005Y23D

The Beinoni Niggun

Richard Kaplan
Rav’s Niggun or Niggun of the Besh - http://www.amazon.com/Tuning-Soul-Worlds-Jewish-Sacred/dp/B000172L7C

Maya Raviv
Avinu Malkenu - http://www.amazon.com/Avinu-Malkenu/dp/B0014DHL4U

Avinu Malkenu - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUSLu6aKoaY

Tal Skloot
Avinu Malkenu - http://www.amazon.com/Avinu-Malkenu/dp/B0014EK43E

Ofer Ben Amots 
Come In Peace (Haskivenu), Psalm 81, or  Niggunim -  http://www.oferbenamots.com/audio/

Woj ciech Knar
Moving to the Ghetto Oct. 31, 1940 - http://www.amazon.com/Pianist-Music-Motion-Picture/dp/B00007E8SQ

Aaron Blumenfield
Kel Echod - http://www.aarons-world.com/jewish.html

David Gerinags
Meditation Hebraique - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002VQ234C/ref=dm_sp_alb

Steve Reich
Tehillim - http://www.amazon.com/Tehillim-Steve-Reich/dp/B0000261K9/ref=cm_cr_dp_orig_subj

From the Milken Archive

John Zorn
Kol Nidre - http://www.milkenarchive.org/works/view/494

Abravanel Henri Lazarof
Kaddish for Maurice -  http://www.milkenarchive.org/works/view/514

Meyer Kupferman
The Shadows of Jerusalem  - http://www.milkenarchive.org/works/view/405

Aaron Avshalomov
Four Biblical Tableaux - http://www.milkenarchive.org/works/view/508

Hugo Weisgall
T'kiatot -  http://www.milkenarchive.org/works/view/522


Unknown said...

You were so helpful! Thank you so much for your suggestions all those months ago. I hope you enjoyed the episode, and thanks for posting here! Michael Allen Harrison is a great musician, so thanks for posting on him, too!

-Madalyn Baldanzi
Music Supervisor
Final Witness

Jack said...

Madalyn... my pleasure. I watched the episode last night and enjoyed it. Great fun. Thanks.