The Klezmatics’ Frank London and Sway Machinery’s Jeremiah Lockwood have long been trespassing on sacred ground. For this special selikhos event, Lockwood & London resurrect the sounds and spirit of the golden age of khazones – Ashkenazic religious singing – and explore the music of Zevulon Kwartin. Both artists are adept at exploring Jewish music and mysticism, bridging tradition and modernity. This new collaboration allows them to explore their mutual obsession with cantorial music, and is part of the current zeitgeist resurgence of interest in classic cantorial music.
Songs of Zebulom allows the artists to embrace the similarities of khazones and other of the world’s spiritual music traditions, such as qawwali. The new-meets old approach to performance embraces the trance-like meditations of Kwartin’s sacred music. It is a sound that reaches into the soul.
During the early twentieth century, as many of the greatest cantors fled Europe, New York City become their home and the center of cantorial music. One of these masters was the legendary Zevulun (Zawel) Kwartin (1874-1953). Born in Novarkhangelsk, Ukraine, he served in St. Petersburg and at the Tabak Temple in Budapest before emigrating to the United States, settling in Borough Park, Brooklyn, where he served as the head cantor at Temple Emanuel. Most of his commercial recordings were made in New York City. In 1926, Kwartin moved to Palestine, settled in the mystical Jewish city of Tzfat, and began touring extensively, leading services and giving concerts at synagogues and performance halls throughout eretz Yisruel.
Kwartin returned to the United States in 1927 to accept a position in Newark, New Jersey, remaining there until his death in 1953.
For this project, Lockwood & London have assembled an electro-acoustic brass and keyboard ensemble featuring Shoko Nagai on organ and accordion, Ron Caswell on tuba, and Brian Drye on trombone and keyboard.
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