Wedding the ancient through word and music to the modern, Ayelet Rose Gottlieb has selected a number of her own and other poets' words to cross-collide jazz and trad sonic strains resulting in an enchanting, invigorating, and thoughtful selection of twelve cuts she completely composed the music to. That generalized attribution, however, doesn't do justice to the very broad range her hand and voice are more than capable of. Love Song with a Ceiling Fan, for instance, my favorite cut, is an avant-garde experiment quite dissimilar to the more mellifluously melodic selections, yet just as cinematically narrative as any of the dozen choices here.
Part of the reason for that lies in Gottlieb's simultaneous love of her Hebrew culture but also of the many other Arabic/Semitic influences all around her, presences as she puts it, "nearly gone" for various reasons, some of which we're presently all too aware of in the unending mid-East aggressions and occupations. This, she laments amid the splendor of her art, is sad because "it is within our power to be as we ought to be", "a natural mix", not sets of sharply divided peoples. Slowly, Distance, for instance, both folk ethnic and Eastern classical simultaneously, is heavily influenced by her grandfather's love of his native Arabic musics. Within it, Ihab Nimer's violin work is at once arid, soulful, and beckoning, exotic yet hauntingly familiar. Gottlieb modifies her own tempo and inflections to reflect the wellsprings of that source, then blends everything into a jazzily Israeli modus.
Always beautifully sonorous, at times ghazalesque, she chose a superb roster of backing players deeply immersed in the region's milieu, percussion playing a heavy part in tone and timbre throughout, echoing much even when the instruments aren't physically present. Alon Oleartchik, Julia Feldman, and Michael Gottlieb are cited as guests though, unfortunately, it's never noted what it is they do, but every musician gains a distinctive presence through Gottlieb's sparklingly authentic compositions, opuses one can very readily term as 'progressive'…not to mention 'brilliant', should one become as caught up as he or she should be in everything happening. Roadsides embodies a wide history of the region and its manifold interleavings, enchants Western audiences with exotic refrains while deeply satisfying mid-Easterners that their arts are not being forgotten in the increasing corporatization and ceaseless strife of planet Earth…and who but artists are able to accomplish the former and vaporize the latter? Surely not the goddamned politicians.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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