Skip to main content

Shred the Accordion: Koby Israelite Balkanizes the Blues (and Vice Versa) on Blues from Elsewhere

From a media release:

CD Release:
Shred the Accordion: Koby Israelite Balkanizes the Blues (and Vice Versa) on Blues from Elsewhere

Buy the CD here


If Jimmy Page played accordion, and if Taraf de Haidouks sang the blues, they’d be partying along side Israeli-born, London-based multi-instrumentalist Koby Israelite. With devil-may-care daring, the Balkan and blues-loving maverick brings together the coolest sounds of gritty roots, hard-hitting rock, and the joyous mayhem of a good East European wedding band on Blues from Elsewhere (Asphalt Tango; U.S. release: March 15, 2013).

This is no novelty record, though, no gimmicky mash up. To Koby, it’s a natural, if unexpected sonic crossroads. “When I decided I was going to do the album, I tried not to introduce the two genres in a contrived way, because sometimes it just didn’twork,” he explains. “I had to work on the track or simply abandon it. It’s not easy tomake this mix sound organic, unforced. But I think I blended well.”

The proof is in the groove, in the balance of virtuosity and humor that guides the album. From “East of Nashville,” where Bulgarian rhythms get a boost from twanging country guitar, to “Johnny Has Cash No More,” inspired by Cash’s signature feel but with Arabic melodic flair, Koby works the connection, making music that’s crafty but not contrived. Using an Italian mandolin to stand in for a cimbalom (“Crayfish Hora”) and a melancholy Armenian duduk (thanks to top player Tigran Aleksanyan) to reveal a whole new side to Led Zeppelin’s epic “Kashmir,” Koby goes to great lengths to show that the blues can be from everywhere and anywhere.

Koby Israelite didn’t set out to be a Balkan bluesman. After four strong releases on John Zorn’s Tzadik label, the rock drummer and classically trained pianist, the restless listener and composer, wanted to try his hand at something else, a curious idea that been percolating for some time: the union of blues and Balkan sounds.

It started with a huge epiphany, in the shape of a concert by the legendary Romanian Gypsy band, Taraf de Haidouks. On the tails of major international buzz about the group, Koby’s wife at the time bought him a ticket. He was less than enthused. “I remember telling her, I don’t want to go hear a bunch of old guys who don’t even have a drum kit!” he recalls with a laugh. “But she insisted, because I have Romanian roots. So I went, and even though I’m not a religious guy, I swear I heard God in the music. I bought an accordion that next day. As a drummer, I didn’t mind getting into an instrument many people think is dorky.”

Koby turns the dorky into the defiantly cool, ripping merrily though complex, undulating accordion lines that echo the best, hottest rock guitar solo in their shape and energy (“The Accordion is the New Guitar”). But he also knows when enough is enough, turning to the rest of instrumentarium—guitar, drums, mandolin, banjo—when it feels right.

“It’s not that I try to be unique. I’m not trying to be interesting or new for its own sake. I’m just trying to reach out to people with my music. To touch people,” Koby reflects. “I don’t want to bore people to death. My music has always got some edge, and it needs to have a groove.”

Comments

What Else Is Hot This Week?

FACTORY presents World Premiere ACTS OF FAITH November 19 to 28 2020 - Free Livestream

 From a media release: World Premiere FACTORY presents  ACTS OF FAITH by David Yee Directed by Nina Lee Aquino Starring Natasha Mumba November 19 – 28, 2020 @ 7:30PM Streamed live for 6 performances Free of charge TORONTO (October 19, 2020) - To kick off its groundbreaking 2020/21 season, Factory presents the world premiere of acts of faith, by multi-award winning Asian Canadian playwright David Yee, directed by Nina Lee Aquino, and starring Natasha Mumba. Written specifically to be performed for a digital platform, acts of faith will stream live to audiences at home for six performances, November 19-28, 2020.  Thanks to the generous support of the TD Bank Group, admission is being offered entirely free of charge to audiences across the country and beyond. acts of faith tells a story about the power of faith, the inescapable persistence of our online identities, and the nature of truth in a digital age. The story follows Faith, a young woman who gets mistaken for a prophet. When a ques

Blues Single | Bushwick Blooze Band: Waiting (Independent / 20 October 2020)

Blues Single Bushwick Blooze Band: Waiting (Independent / 20 October 2020) Stream It From Your Fave Service Waiting is the latest in a string of singles released by Bushwick Blooze Band. The Brooklyn-based blues trio have been performing and recording the blues around the NYC area since 2018. Their first album "Cryin' for the L Train" was released in January 2019, and included covers of famous songs composed by their greatest influencers such as Little Richard, The Allman Brothers Band, Freddie King, and Eddie Vinson.  Bushwick Blooze Band is finishing up the production of their second album "Yes Dear" and unlike the previous cover record, this new album will be their first original contribution to the genres they love. Waiting is an upbeat blues track with a party kind of veneer over solid musicianship. What begins with a classic blues feel transforms into an extended psychadelic flavoured trip. Inventive guitar licks almost make you forget about the virtuosity

Blaise La Bamba & Kotakoli November 7th 2020 Online - PWYC

 From a media release: Batuki Music Society and Alliance Francaise Toronto present A virtual concert featuring Blaise La Bamba & Kotakoli November 7th 2020 at 8:00 PM Enjoy the concert from home! K inshasa’s vibrant nightlife has long been world-famous. It is home to the subculture known informally as the Society of Ambiance-Makers and Elegant People (SAPEUR), which has spread its influence through artists such as Papa Wemba. Blaise La Bamba is part of this scene. He has worked with some of the top names of Congolese music, in particular General Defao. I n 2018, Blaise La Bamba founded Kotakoli , an all-star collective of musicians that perform an energetic mix of Congolese rumba and soukous . In the company of Kotakoli, this veteran musician brings Congolese popular music back to the forefront, with spellbinding dances. The Details Date: Saturday November 7th, 2021  Blaise La Bamba and Kotakoli Virtual Concert Time: 8:00 PM Tickets: Pay what you can This concert is offered to you

CD Release: TriBeCaStan's New Deli Breaks the Time/Space Continuum in New Deli (Feb 7)

From a media release: New Release from Little Known Government of TriBeCaStan : Capital New Deli Found to Have Irregular Time-Space Continuum EverGreene Music - February 7, 2012 TriBeCaStan: News Alert. This morning Aljazzeera reported that the questionable nation of TriBeCaStan ( www.tribecastan.tv ) has made scientific breakthroughs in time travel. The unrecognized republic of nomads has broken the code of the time/space continuum. And by broken we mean: it no longer works. Applying sonic techniques once only known to a small group of punk rock shamans, the nation's most prestigious scientific entity, the TriBeCaStani FolkLorkEstra, uses sound alone to simultaneously place listeners in eras separated by decades and terrains separated by oceans. The breakthrough is outlined in an auditory compendium titled New Deli (distributed by the state-run EverGreene Music, set for release February 7, 2012 ), a recording that allows the world to experience a type of soulful networking mor

Jazzy Pop: Shihori - Soul Trip (Independent / 4 September 2020)

Jazzy Pop: Shihori - Soul Trip (Independent / 4 September 2020) New York City based singer and songwriter Shihori's new single Soul Trip is atmospheric and ambient. Interesting rhythms and interwoven melodic vocal lines showcase jazzy harmonic progressions in a slow groove mode.  As a songwriter, she uses electronic effects with impeccable musical taste. As a singer, her flexible vocals range from a sweet soprano to a strong mid-range. A veteran of the Japanese pop scene, Shihori moved to New York City in 2018, a move she talks about in a media release. "I was so surprised when I came to NY for the first time. Independent and strong women are respected and there are lots of different preferences in music and style. I thought, 'oh my God! This place really accepts uniqueness and freedom! I didn't know there is a place like this totally different world that allows you to be yourself. Everybody looks so different. So many races, colors, cultures, fashion, ideas...I am so