Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Listening to the World at Lula Lounge (Toronto)

Playing soon at Lula Lounge:
Jaffa Road - Jan 27
Alchemy and Algorithm - Chemistry & Math 101 with
Tasa & Rinsethealgorithm- Jan 28

"My music is inspired by some travels to the Middle East, particularly Israel and Egypt," says Aaron Lightstone of Jaffa Road. "When I was there, I was very struck by the work of musicians in terms of mixing cultures - in pop music, as well as classical." It's a concept people who listen to live music in Toronto will be very familiar with, that mixing of cultures, although there is one significant difference between the musical climate here and in Israel. "In Israel, you'll hear ethnic instruments in mainstream pop music," he says. In North America, what we lump into the term "world music" is largely ghettoized.

Drawn to the mix of traditions he found all over the region and drawing on his own roots, Jaffa Road's music includes lyrics in Hebrew and Jewish themes. For Aaron, it's the music that's paramount. "It's fairly clear, in the way that we fuse music together, that it's about acceptance of diversity." There's a fusing of traditional forms into new expression, including elements of classical Arabic and Indian music, and modern jazz and pop. It fuses acoustic and electronic, secular and sacred themes.

With the concert on January 27, Lightstone's intention is to take another step and fuse his band with 2 members of Eccodek, (Andrew MacPherson and Deliveryboy,) adding an electronic, dubby vibe to the Middle Eastern flavoured music and. "To change things up," Lightstone says, "I'm quite excited about the results. This will be more of a dance party." (photos courtesy the band.)

While I can't make it to Jaffa Road on the 27th, the very next evening, I'll be checking out Alchemy and Algorithm - Chemistry & Math 101 with Tasa (right) & Rinsethealgorithm, (below) two bands I've been meaning to check out for some time. When it comes to mixing or fusing traditions, I'm not sure there's many left unexplored in the music of these two bands.

Tasa, created by tabla player & composer Ravi Naimpally, has always been a vehicle for exploring the cultural hodgepodge that is Canada - including Western jazz - in terms of instrumentation as well as musical traditions, while influenced by his studies of the music of North India. Their style is varied, kinetic, and as much a showcase for talented musicianship as for any cultural expression.
Rinsethealgorithm was formed by Toronto based electric bassist Rich Brown "with the purpose of taking a modern approach to the idea that Jazz was the original dance music" as he says on his website. The music takes elements of jazz rock and funk from the 1970's to 1990's and mixes them with modern dance music for modern audiences. You get the relentless groove of today's sounds with the more complex musical ideas of jazz. I think Brown's own advice (again from the website) is probably the best: "don't ask, listen".

I guess I will.

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