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5 Selected Albums for the Jewish New Year

These carefully curated concept albums range from jazz to pop and explore the Climate Crisis, Renewal, and Futurism

By Ira Klein

Published Oct 4, 2023

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As we welcome the Jewish New Year, we’ve put together a selection of five remarkable concept albums to make your celebration even more special. These albums dive into a wide range of themes, from today’s urgent issues like the climate crisis to timeless concepts of renewal and futurism.

So, in the midst of your busy days, we invite you to take a well-deserved break, unplug from your devices for an hour, and let the enchanting world of music sweep you away on a journey of self-reflection, aligning beautifully with the spirit of Sukkot.

Our collection features a mix of genres, from the soothing sounds of jazz to the catchy beats of pop, ensuring there’s something for every music lover. Each album has been handpicked for its ability to capture the essence of Sukkot and inspire deep contemplation. So, get ready to embark on a musical adventure that will touch your heart and leave you feeling refreshed and inspired.

Dudu Tassa & Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood’s Middle Eastern Fusion: Jarak Qaribak

Israeli musician Dudu Tassa collaborated with Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood and a variety of guest vocalists from across the Middle East to create this album. Together, they question and dissolve accepted political boundaries and create contemporary Middle Eastern music blending electronic and acoustic sounds.

Paul Simon’s Haunting, Dream-Inspired Melodies: Seven Psalms


Paul Simon started the writing process for this album as he was losing hearing in one ear. Simon had a dream in which he was told he would be creating an album called Seven Psalms. Soon after, he began composing instrumental guitar pieces, the lyrics to which kept appearing in his dreams. The result is a haunting, stream-of-consciousness style, one-track album contemplating mortality, beauty, and the divine.

Jake Blount’s Dystopic Reworking of Black American Music: The New Faith

African-American musician Jake Blount reimagines Black American music in this dystopic album, created in the light of unprecedented climate change. Imbuing new meaning into traditional elements of the Spirituals tradition, and using unusual arrangements and sounds, this album is a provocative take on American folk music, made for our time.

Rhiannon Giddens & Francesco Turrisi’s Intimate Global Fusion: There’s No Other

Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi renew and blend their native musical traditions (African-American folk music, and Southern Italian music) on this record, which highlights the contributions of “others,” by celebrating the influence of Black culture on American music, and Arabic culture on Italian music. An intimate recording showcasing the virtuosity of Giddens and Turrisi, and their ability to create a fresh, global musical language.

Berry Sakharof & Rea Mochiach’s Genre-Bending Tribute to Solomon Ibn Gabirol:

Solomon Ibn Gabirol (active in 11th century Spain) is widely recognized as one of the greatest Jewish Sephardic poets of medieval times. For this recording, Israeli musicians Berry Sakharof and Rea Mochiach gathered an all-star group of Israeli musicians and created genre-bending compositions to Ibn Gabirol’s timeless, devotional words. Inspired by rock, jazz, electronic, and Jewish folk music, this recording has earned commercial and critical success in Israel.

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Ira Klein is an award-winning composer, guitarist, and educator from Israel, and based in Cambridge, MA. Growing up in Jerusalem, Ira was immersed in the sounds of jazz, contemporary music, and a wide variety of Jewish music. After moving to the U.S. in 2017 to attend Berklee College of Music, he fell in love with American...

Reflections

1
What sounds do you recognize or don't recognize on these recordings? How do artists renew musical traditions?
2
What makes music relevant or contemporary? What is the role of tradition in creating new works of art?
3
How do these artists break down political and social conventions?

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