This music is the result of an eight month weekly residency in the “Choir Loft” at the Kane Street Synagogue in Brooklyn, NY, USA.
More than one hundred and fifty years ago, the space was designed for a choir to sing “from on high” down to the congregants. This year, a group of Kane Street congregants cleared out what seemed like a century’s worth of accumulated shul accoutrements and reclaimed the loft as a space for music – only this time, our band brought the audience up to the loft with us! The loft itself – with its beautiful acoustics, grand view, and the lovely group of supporters – became the creative soil in which the music could develop and flourish.
Like the space, the music itself comes from older eras, but is reclaimed in 2013 Brooklyn. Older styles of Jewish music – nigunim (wordless melodies), z’mirot (Shabbos table melodies), choral music, and traditional nusach (prayer chant) organically melt into the spontaneous improvisation, liberated harmonies and indie soul music of our Brooklyn soundscape. Using my open-ended compositions as starting points, this incredibly sensitive group of musicians and singers improvised and invented arrangements on the fly. That open process left us vulnerable to making mistakes, but also left open the possibility of moments of unscripted surging beauty and power. The rumbling cars, chirping birds, cracking voices, audience shuffles, and other sounds of the real world added their unique flavor to this recording, which was recorded live and presented here with nothing added or taken away. We hope you enjoy it! – JW