The Days of Awe / David Chevan, Frank London, Afro Semitic Experience- CD
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David Chevan with Frank London, The Afro-Semitic Experience
The Days Of Awe

I am always pleased to offer a hometown experience on cdRoots. David Chevan and Afro-Semitic Experience has been amazing audiences all over Connecticut and the northeast for a number of years (and lately, also around the world). Trumpeter Frank London joins the ensemble on this 2003 release that offers reinterpretations of tradition, what Chevan calls 'meditations for Selichot, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.' It's a powerful work of musical art - innovative, spiritual and musically adept.

and as for me, my prayer is for you
may our offering be acceptable
here I am, with my meager accomplishments

David Chevan-bass
Warren Byrd-piano and keyboards
Alvin Carter, Jr.-drums
Baba David Coleman-percussion
Stacy Phillips- violin and dobro
Will Bartlett-saxophone and clarinet saxophone
Frank London - trumpet, quarter-tone trumpet, flugelhorn

"When Connecticut's Afro-Semitic Experience - think Jewish wedding, revival meeting and Charles Mingus all at once - lays down the groove, your ears pop with strange sensations. A lot of genre combining ends up being mediocrity with an identity problem. But jazz collaborators David Chevan and Warren Byrd are so good at what they do that the resulting mix is compelling and decidedly not esoteric. Many of the songs sound like straight-ahead jazz at a cursory listen, but the details get cross-cultural fast - the melody might turn Middle Eastern while the rhythms go African. When lap steel comes sliding in with a bluesy twang, all bets are off, and the multi-ethnic party really begins. This is multi-culturalism with its hair down, and well worth a listen. The Afro-Semitic Experience brings home the bacon and the gefilte fish." -James Heflin, The Valley Advocate

"The Afro-Semitic Experience rocks the house" -George Robinson, The Jewish Week

"With The Afro-Semitic Experience New Haven gets to claim the harbingers of one of the freshest, most distinctive, culturally explicit and ultra-PC sounds in jazz. For the Afro-Semitic Experience evokes the sound of cultural shift, of a melting pot, of spirituality and devotion and ceremony, of partying and praying and jamming. . . .A danceable, trance-causing flurry of notes with godly underpinnings. Underneath all the oomph you feel the warmth, wealth fury and pain of whole nations, repressed cultures, challenged beliefs. This band is the sound of the past, the present and the great beyond all at once." - The New Haven Advocate

"This is a more laid-back take on the Hebrew/Afro-American connection than you hear from John Zorn and the Downtown New York crowd, but one with its own roughshod beauty." - Cadence

The artist says:

I have begun work on a new recording and concert program tentatively entitled, The Days of Awe. This new recording will be my very first holiday album. The album is going to be a collection of music for the Holy Days of Selichot, Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. The album will be a collection of interpretations of original music, high holy day cantorial works from the repertoire of Yoselle Rosenblatt, and Jewish congregational melodies

I've been rehearsing about half of the music with The Afro-Semitic Experience so some of the pieces will have a pretty rich textural quality. The other half of the music is going to have more of a chamber sound. For those pieces I have teamed up with trumpeter Frank London and Grammy award winning dobro master Stacy Phillips.

This is a project that I have been developing for some time. Ever since I was young I've wanted to make a holiday album. I have been frustrated that so many Jewish artists feel they that if they are going to record a holiday album it should be for Hannukah, which is really such a minor holiday that has been made to suffer because of its proximity to Christmas. It always struck me that there were other holidays that were more appropriate. For Jews everywhere the Days of Awe are a period of enormous importance and this album gives me a chance to express my own sense of awe and explore these themes with a group of intense performers and improvisors.

The Days of Awe is the period time during the year when Jews traditionally spend greater time reflecting on their actions of the past year, repent for their sins, and seek forgiveness from those whom they have wronged. This period culminates with the holy day of Yom Kippur, a day of repentance during which one spends the entire day in a state of repentance, self-abnegation and fasting.

The central works on the album are a series of arrangements of transcriptions that I made of High Holy day cantorial pieces recorded by the legendary Yossele Rosenblatt. I've been listening to Cantorial music for most of my life and Rosenblatt ranks quite high on my list of major contributors to the art form. His profound sense of melody along with his skill at the cantorial art of chazzonos is without compare. For this album I chose pieces from his repertoire of music for the High Holy Days and have written arrangements that would allow for the integrity of the original work as well as opportunities for improvisation. There were so many great cantors and the choice to limit the repertoire to pieces by Rosenblatt was difficult. What makes Rosenblatt's work so distinctive is the way in which he incorporating clear and distinct melodic passages into the liturgy. Not all turn of the century cantors were as focused on creating singable memorable melodies. For example, I am fascinated by the approach that Berele Chagy took to singing sacred music, because his art is much more about improvisation and vocal pyrotechnics than melodic structure. I chose Rosenblatt's melodic approach for this album because I didn't want this program to be merely a blowing session. I don't just want to jam on old Hebrew High Holy Day melodies (though we're going to do plenty of that), I'm equally interested in creating a format to display these beautiful melodies and to retain their sacred meaning. If you're going to create a program or make an album about the High Holy Days, the music, the liturgy, and the spirit have all got to be there.

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