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Mark Weinstein · In Jerusalem

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With great skill Mark Weinstein answers the question: how to turn traditional Hasidim from all over the Jewish world into a bewildering unutterably beautiful array of music in the metaphor of jazz. For Mr. Weinstein there are unmistakable lines of continuity rather than division. This is remarkable in itself. How on earth would one have conceived of a, Northern Ukrainian Hasidic melody into a piece using the improvisatory techniques of jazz call it “Berditchever Nigun” and still swing it, while still retaining its Hasidic flavour – not simply melody, mind you. With such daring it is conceivable that Mark Weinstein might even be inventing something quite new and dare-devilish.

Mark Weinstein makes his case for this with unfaltering poise reaching that aforementioned transcendence in the same sense as say the Jazz masters of an all but bygone era played. The flutist finds the ‘mystical, transcendental beyond’ by reaching deep down into his very soul, it seems. God must have been keeping tabs on his quest, for Mark Weinstein plays this programme with ravishing velvet-toned ‘pianissimo’. Not only does he challenge convention here, by attempting something so outrageously difficult, but he challenges convention by exploring the contrapuntal trajectory of the pieces.

Unusual voicings draw attention throughout the programme along with a few crowd-whipping accelerations. Mr. Weinstein’s lines are long and loping, yet fleet and curvaceous. His profoundly beautiful re-imaginings indulge in serious and sustained time-stretching, and finish up with a spectacularly inventive and mystical “Breslov Nigun” a piece of music that is transcribed from capella Cabalistic texts into a fascinating Peruvian ‘landó’.

Despite its to-ing and fro-ing between the world of Hasidim and American contemporary music the music retains its vivid rhythmic countenance. This touches the music with disarming detail and you sometimes even get a sense that you can catch a glimpse of Mar Weinstein’s heart, or at least become privy to some deeply autobiographical reflections. Mr. Weinstein leans into the music with such depth and intensity as if he were excavating under the notes and as he does so, moving his fingers that often suggest high drama on the part of the flutist.

Track List – Berditchever Nigun, Repozarás; Mizmor l’David; Yaakov u’Malka; Adayin Chashoock; Ozidanie; Meir’s Nigun; Breslov Nigun.

Personnel – Mark Weinstein: concert, alto and bass flutes; Steve Peskoff: guitar; Gilad Abro: bass; Haim Peskoff: drums; Gilad Dobrecky: percussion.

Released – 2015
Label – Zoho Music
Runtime – 42:16

Based in Milton, Ontario, Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

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