At a time when virtually everything is available on CD, many musicians – flutists, in this instance – search for something both different and enlightening. For the American flutist Mark Weinstein, who calls this transcendent disc simply In Jerusalem it is a question of terms one has long associated with his music: Afro-Latin, Latin Jazz Straight Ahead… None of these really mattered to Mark Weinstein anyway. Still, this disc (like all Mr. Weinstein’s discs) goes beyond the understood virtuosity, an expansion into (Hasidic) music of seemingly unplayable, quasi-anything-goes in scope and scale, Mark Weinstein turns the term ‘transcendent’ on its head.
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.
About Mark Weinstein
Flutist, composer and arranger, Mark Weinstein began his study of music at age six with piano lessons from the neighborhood teacher in Fort Green Projects in Brooklyn where he was raised. Between then and age 14 when he started to play trombone in Erasmus Hall High School, he tried clarinet and drums. Playing his first professional gig on trombone at 15, he added string bass, a common double in NYC at that time. Read more…