Siach Hasadeh is the most spiritually rejuvenating group I play in. We take ancient Chassidic hymns and give them a modern interpretation, using various arranging techniques and a lot of improvisation. It’s very meditative and introspective music, but because of the element of improvisation, very expressive at the same time. Often, everyday life can be exhausting and spiritually draining. One of the reasons I play music is that a great musical experience will refresh me and uplift me. But some music does this more than others, and more consistently. Any time Siach Hasadeh performs, I feel revitalized – about music, life, and humanity in general.
The group is, at its core, a duo of myself on double bass and Yoni Kaston on clarinet. But we frequently collaborate with other musicians – and our collaboration with violinist Daniel Fuchs and cellist Gaël Huard has turned into another full-fledged iteration of the band, one where we have been working a lot with different improvisation exercises and techniques, searching for a larger vocabulary with which to interpret the melodies of the material we perform. We have also worked a lot with harmonica virtuoso Jason Rosenblatt and Turkish Oud player and maker Ismail Fencioglu, both on stage and in the studio. In the past we have also worked with Oud player Nicolas Royer-Artuso, cellist Jackie Fay, and percussionist Francois Landry.
I first met Yoni at KlezKanada, an annual Jewish culture and music retreat/camp in the Laurentian mountains just north of Montreal. We played a tune together at an open mic at about 4am, and the musical connection was immediately apparent. We discovered we both lived in Montreal, and the project developed from there.
This year we released our second album, Song of the Grasses. It was recorded, mixed and mastered by Adam Tiller, who was in the McGill sound recording program while I was doing my masters degree, so we worked together a lot then. He did an incredible job with the sound of this album, I’m very happy with it. Adam is now working as a sound designer at Ubisoft.
In March 2014, we did a small tour of the North-East US, playing in New York, New Jersey, Vermont and Connecticut. Because of that tour, we were recently included in some “Best of 2014” lists on the New York Music Daily blog. Our show at the Stephen Wise Synagogue on the Upper West Side was among the Best New York Concerts of 2014, Our album Song of the Grasses was among the 50 Best Albums of 2014, and the song Kumi Roni from the same album was among the 100 Best Songs of 2014.
I, for one, am excited to see where this group goes!!
I think I’ll start a blog. Why not?
The first thing I’ll write about is this past weekend. It was an intense, music-filled few days. Friday night I played with the Craig Pedersen Quartet at IMOOFest in Ottawa. The night was opened by the solo cello with looping pedal and other crazy effects of Mark Molnar, and closed with the free improvisations for the Lina Allemano ensemble Titanium Riot.
Playing with Craig is very emotionally and physically demanding. His music is very intense, and he pushes the band is sometimes uncomfortable but always interesting directions. In order to rehearse for the show, we ran the set twice in a row in the afternoon (immediately after driving into Ottawa from Montreal), and then went to set up and soundcheck for the show (we also ate Shawarma twice that day). The show went super well, but I’m still recuperating from several after-effects – including muscle soreness in my hands, and a ringing in my ears.
On Saturday, I played a wedding ceremony in Kirkland with my string trio, Trio Da Capo. It was a nice ceremony, and entertaining because one of the couple’s four kids was running around the whole time, enjoying the sound of his new shoes on the church floor.
Saturday evening I was back in the Ottawa area, playing a house concert in a beautiful mansion in Gatineau with Renée Yoxon and Chad Linsley. The name of the concert series is the Tiny House Mansion Concerts. The place was incredible (I can’t believe I didn’t take a photo!), and the hosts were awesome. They had an old, slightly out-of-tune Heintzman upright piano, which Chad made sound great. It’s a total treat to play with these two! I always need to be on my toes, the music often takes surprising twists and turns. My favorite moment of the evening was when I sat down to listen to Renée and Chad perform a tune I don’t play on, entitled Little Prince. As the last note faded, there was an audible group exhalation, almost a sigh – like everybody had been released from a spell all at the same time. Maybe not a spell, more like a beautiful enchanted dream world, and they all came back to reality when the song finished. It was a really incredible feeling.
Sunday morning began with a great, relaxed home rehearsal for Marie-Claire‘s upcoming album launch. Maybe I’m biased, but I think it’s a great project, with a great sounding album, and a great band (Eric Thibodeau on drums! I get to play with him in Craig’s group, too). Marie-Claire’s composition has always floored me, I wish I could write that well. Apparently the album has been getting some CBC airtime, which is exciting!!
Sunday afternoon was a rehearsal with Siach Hasadeh, the formation with strings. With this group we’ve been heading into a really beautiful and interesting area, incorporating more and more free improvisation and extended techniques into the group vocabulary. So we worked on a bunch of improvisation exercises, and worked on some new material, and the whole process was exhilarating! Hopefully we’ll be able to do another tour this spring….
Sunday evening I got to check out Eric Hove’s new project at the OFF Jazz Festival. It was crazy! Wild spectral music over cool grooves. I’ve never heard anything like it before! It’s not often I get the chance to go to a concert, so this was a real treat, especially since the music was great. It was also a great jazz hang!
If you made it this far, thank you for reading. I hope to post about once a week, so stay tuned for more!
I’m off to do some web design homework.