Esta / Mediterranean Crossroads
Newance E1002, 1996
PO Box 1802 New York, NY 10011
I first ran into a recording by Esta in a local used record store a few years ago. It wasn't Israeli, and it wasn't familiar, but it seemed to exemplify a lot of neat world music sounds, so who was to complain? And, over the last couple of years, about every few months someone queries the jewish-music mailing list with the same question, "who is this "Esta" band? How do I find their recordings?" In honor of their appearance at Ashkenaz '97, I thought I'd talk a bit about their most recent recording.
The first thing you notice, as the drums pound away on the opening notes of "Dror Yikra'a," and then the zorna begins to wail, is that this is an eclectic band (and the result is a far cry from both the traditional melody, and the intense, historic version done by Natural Gathering twenty years ago on "Waiting for Samson"). Similar results occur with their "Oy Vey," based on a traditional Soliner Hasidic nign. In some ways this is the Israeli music that we were always looking for when I lived in Israel: diverse, a total fusion of all of the different cultures and people and musics that came together in one small Mediterranean country. In this case, although some of the sources are Israeli, the Balkan rhythms, or the far-eastern sound of "Night Sail" are not sounds that one would hear in that place often. Nor are the results particularly related to what was (as is appropriate to fusion); but they are quite danceable. There's a lot of rock, and perhaps too much beat, or too intrusive a bass (as on "Go-Go"), but most people I know who like dance music think these are positive attributes. The lack of vocals also makes this more accessible to a world audience than, say, the music of Yehuda Poliker, which covers some similar territory.
In short: diverse instrumentation, world instrumentation and rhythms, and a really, really fun fusion of lots of stuff. I'm not sure how deep it is, but maybe that will take time. So, stop intellectualizing, I tell myself, and just get up and enjoy the dancing. Okay.
Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 8/21/97
Personnel this recording:
Ori Beanstock: guitars, string instruments
Shlomo Deshet: drums, percussion
Bentzi Gafni: bass guitars
Amir Gwirtzman: saxophones, reeds
Special Guest Delmar Brown: keyboards (10)
- Deror Yik'ra (trad. Yemenite) 3:40
- Go-Go (S. Deshet) 6:26
- Turkish Western (O. Beanstock) 7:10
- The Iraqis (S. Deshet) 8:08
- Oy Vey (Stoliner Nigun) (trad. Hassidic) 5:25
- Night Sail (O. Beanstock & B. Gafni) 2:10
- Monkey's Paradise (O. Beanstock) 5:28
- Zumzum (A. Gwirtzman & S. Deshet) 4:39
- Why-Y (O. Beanstock) 5:21
- Deep in the Sea (S. Deshet) 5:42
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