Sarah Aroeste / Hanuká!

Obviously, either the cover to a kid's party recording or a horror movie

Sarah Aroeste / Hanuká!, 2021

Available from Bandcamp and better digital and cd shops everywhere.

Sarah Aroeste has been a major promoter of Ladino music and Sephardic culture ever since her initial recording on Tzadik records back in the day. As we enter the holiday season, I especially want to make people aware of her delightful recording, Hanuká!

Of course, it includes her rendition of Flory Jagoda's "Ocho Kandelikos," the one Ladino Hanukkah song that many American Jews know, complete with Spanish guitar and vocals by Shuky Shveiky. But, there is much more. From the opening "Azeremos una merenda" (We're having a party), this is a family-friendly album, emphasizing the rituals and foods of the holiday from a Sephardic perspective. Musically, the album moves from quieter accompaniment to full-fledged choral pieces with a larger band, with children's voices forming a chorus on "Hanuka, Hanuka." My ears also enjoyed the use of the oud and santur on quieter songs.

There are fewer songs that are familiar to non-Sephardic families. One notable exception is a Ladino version of "Maoz Tzur". The melody feels familiar, but the arrangement and instrumentation are Sephardic and help make the song new.

This is a lovely kids album, and one that will be very welcome in a world where kids often hear the same Ashkenazic and American Hanukkah songs over and over. The lyrics and translations are avaialble, along with the recordings, from Bandcamp. Have a Hanuká di felisita.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 24 November 2023.

Personnel this recording:
Sarah Aroeste: vocals, all tracks
Gloria Joyce Ascher: vocals, (Track 6)
Shai Bachar: piano, keyboards, melodica, (Tracks 1,3,6-10)
Dalia Blaugrund: backing vocals, (Track 8)
Irit Blaugrund: backing vocals, (Track 8)
Danny Flam: trumpet, trombone, tuba, (Track 3)
Ziv Harpaz: bass, guitar, (Tracks 1, 3, 4, 6-8)
Eran Horwitz: flamenco bass, (Track 2)
Ilan Katchka: drums, percussion, (Tracks 1, 3, 4, 6-10)
Israel Katumba backing vocals, percussion, (Track 2)
Javi Katumba: backing vocals, percussion, (Track 2)
Talia Yona Kliger backing vocals, (Tracks 1, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10)
Eitan Refua: santur, (Track 10)
Yehuda “Shuky” Shveiky: vocals, guitarra flamenca, (Track 2)
Yaniv Taichman: violin, oud, baglama, (Tracks 1, 9)
Tal Yadin: classical guitar, (Track 5)

Song Titles

  1. Azeremos una Merenda 3:15
  2. Ocho Kandelikas 3:37
  3. Hanuka 3:08
  4. Fiesta de Hanuka 2:30
  5. Las Kandelikas de la Fiesta 1:58
  6. Ya Viene Hanuká! 1:43
  7. Vayehi Mikets 1:44
  8. Hanuka, Hanuka 2:15
  9. Ma'oz Tzur (Ladino) 2:26
  10. Dak il Tas 3:07

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