THURSDAY, 13 DECEMBER 2012
Idan Raichel is back with an eleven-member entourage. The Project is all set to perform at the NH7 weekend in Bengaluru. He spoke to Ektaa Malik
The dreadlocks have gotten longer and the sound of the music is richer, since he was last in India, five years ago. Idan Raichel is back in India with his Project. And this time, he has eleven people from an otherwise huge ensemble of 95 musicians.
They performed at Blue Frog recently.
“The youngest person in the Project is 16. And we have people who are 83 and 91. So age is no factor,” said Idan. The dreadlocks were bound together with a scarf but errant ones managed to escape. He looked slightly tired, (the flight was delayed from Mumbai — we attribute it to that).
His smile was in place. Soft-spoken, with a lilting voice — he would easily transform into the rockstar. World music is the identity of the Project. They have imbibed sounds from Ethiopia, the Middle east and Latin America. “I started playing accordion at nine. That’s a world sound, if there was ever one. In school, I got attracted to the jazz piano,” shared Idan. But it was in the Israeli army that he began performing live.
“We have compulsory military service in Israel. I joined the army band and performed for soldiers. They were the most honest audience after children. That’s where I got around to creating live set-ups. But even if we didn’t have compulsory military service, I would still have enlisted — because you need to help your country,” added Idan.
He then began working as a counsellor with a boarding school for immigrants in Israel.
And he used music as therapy. “Kids from Ethiopia, former USSR, Eastern European countries — they all came together. There were lots of identity problems. For kids in Moscow — this was still a developing country and for kids from Ukraine — this was developed,” shared Idan.
The Project gained popularity for its usage of Ethiopian sound. “East African music is different from West African or South African music. They are percussion heavy. East African is more lyrical. They have beautiful, old melodies. When performed and toured the world with this, it was popular.”
Speaking about how he imbibed sounds from many genres, he explained, “Israel is a melting pot. We have immigrants from everywhere. They don’t keep to themselves. We don’t have a China Town or close-knit community. We live together and influences rub off.”
The Project has five albums under its belt — the most recent being Travelling Home, released last year. Peace and harmony are the underlying themes. “
It’s not like we set out to be messengers. We did what we had to. That is what the people took from the music. We collaborated with a Palestinian singer and it was the first time Arabic music was heard on Israel’s airwaves. It’s unfortunate if kids from Syria don’t know the poetry of Lebanon. And how could people in the Middle East not have heard a Hebrew song. We need to transcend borders.
Peace as a concept, is for diplomats — but for ordinary people, it’s a different thing,” he emphasised. The Project has an added stopover of Bengaluru this year. They will perform at the NH7 Weekend, on the Dewarist Stage.
Monday | December 17, 2012
Musical collaboration for peace
Tanushree Bhasin 15th Dec 2012
Idan Rachel and Cabra Casay at Blue Frog
Relations between Israel and its northern neighbours may be turning worse with each passing day, but Israel based music group The Idan Raichel Project has a message of peace to offer. Performing at Blue Frog Delhi on Wednesday, the ten piece band lead by Idan Raichel brought the Israeli community of Delhi together at the venue, making everyone swing and sway to their upbeat music.
The Project began in 2003 with the aim to bring together artists from different parts of the world to create music that transcends borders. So far around 85 artists from Israel, Yemen, Morocco, Ethiopia, Sudan, and the USSR and refugee camps from conflict zones have taken part in the project. This multi-lingual and multi-ethnic group has by now performed all over the word singing songs of hope and joy in languages as varied as Hebrew, Spanish, Amharic, Hindi, Arabic, and Swahili.
After paying their respects to sitar maestro Pt. Ravi Shankar who passed away the same day, the group performed some wonderfully arranged songs that combined Middle Eastern, African, and Latin American sounds. Coupled with the energy and dynamism of the lead singers of the group Cabra Casay, Ravid Kahalani, and Maya Avraham, the show turned out to be a spectacular musical and visual treat.
While most of their songs are ostensibly about love their political agenda of talking about diversity and tolerance is clearly visible when you watch all these artists from diverse cultures make truly global and fusion music on stage. "Coming to Delhi is a dream-come-true for us. We had never imagined we would perform in this city", said Raichel about their first visit to the city. With songs as peppy and pulsating as Samemen, Ayale Ayale, Brong Faya etc the group had everyone dancing merrily to their tunes. The fact that one couldn't even understand the lyrics of the songs didn't deter people from letting their hair down. The songs played to such undeniably addictive beats that clapping along became natural. Or maybe it was an Israeli quirk, but the club came alive to some emphatic applause and uninhibited dancing along on Wednesday, which is quite rare even for Blue Frog.
Music transcends space and time
17 Dec 2012
Singer and composer, Idan Raichel
More than a decade back, he began his journey. Bringing together around 95 musicians from different parts of the world, he created a spectacle that his country had never really witnessed. Blending electronics, traditional Hebrew texts, jazz, folk and pop tunes, the Idan Raichel project, that originated in Israel, returned to enthrall the city audience after a gap of six years.
“In my project, every song has distinct sound and music. While many people classify it as Israeli music, I say it is mixture of African, Latin American, Caribbean and Middle Eastern sounds. Infact, it is very difficult to define our music,” smiles Idan Raichel, singer-songwriter, composer and keyboardist.
The project was presented at Blue Frog in association with the Embassy of Israel. The line-up of artists included for this tour include Cabra Casay, Maya Avraham, Ravid Kachalani, Gilad Shmuely, Rony Iwrin and many others.
Talking about the project’s success in Israeli music history, he says, “When we started out, I had no clue it would become such a success. It’s like a dream come true,” adds Idan. The project changed the face of Israeli popular music and offers a message of love and tolerance.
How was the audience response? “This is our second visit and the crowd was even more enthusiastic,” he adds.