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David Chevan And Warren Byrd | This Is The Afro-semitic Experience

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Jazz: World Fusion World: Klezmer Moods: Type: Improvisational
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This Is The Afro-semitic Experience

by David Chevan And Warren Byrd

Understands and presents interpretations of music from traditions as rich as gospel, klezmer, nigunim, spirituals, and swing.
Genre: Jazz: World Fusion
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Eliyahu Hanavi
7:45 $0.99
2. Tashlikh
7:23 $0.99
3. Sha Shtil
12:54 $0.99
4. Better Get Hit in Your Soul
9:46 $0.99
5. Nefesh
3:15 $0.99
6. Aalafiya/shir Lashalom
10:04 $0.99
7. Water From An Ancient Well
9:28 $0.99
8. Waters of Babylon
5:08 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
"The Byrd/Chevan alliance becomes all the more provocative.... and essential. Reflecting the spirit of this ensemble, the music is an alchemist's brew of traditional Jewish songs, pieces by African and African- American artists, and Chevan compositions or arrangements . . . a recording rich with the spirit of shared experiences and true brotherhood in its execution, noble and thought provoking in its construction" --Willard Jenkins, from the liner notes Willard Jenkins is a regular contributor to JazzTimes, Down Beat, Jazz Report, Jazz Education Journal, and Africana.com. He is a producer- broadcaster for BET Jazz, WPFW radio in Washington, DC, and XM Satellite Radio. African-American pianist Warren Byrd and Jewish-American bassist David Chevan continue their exploration of the musical and spiritual nexus with a blazing new collection of original pieces and interpretations of classic pieces from the Jewish and African diaspora. On this, their third outing, pianist Warren Byrd and bassist David Chevan have released a CD that expands their vision of Jewish-American and African-American dialogue in ways that could hardly be expected. This album introduces not only a new conceptual approach for Chevan and Byrd but a new band, The Afro-Semitic Experience. Here the artists present a collection of music that embraces the secular along with the sacred experiences of their people. The eight pieces on the album expose the musicians to a wide range of pieces and genres from the blues to klezmer to sacred song. The Afro-Semitic Experience is a collective ensemble of musicians dedicated to preserving, promoting and expanding the rich cultural and musical heritage of the Jewish and African diaspora. Imagine a band that understands and can present interpretations of music from traditions as rich as Gospel, Klezmer, Nigunim, Spirituals, and Swing and you have the Afro-Semitic Experience. This is a group that is as comfortable playing a freylakh as they are swinging a blues, that knows how to play either a bulgar or some funk. Multi-cultural soul. The band began performing in late 1999 as an off-shoot of the creative work of African-American pianist Warren Byrd and Jewish-American bassist David Chevan. This album represents a continuation of the work of Chevan and Byrd, but it also marks the first chapter in the story of an exciting new band. On this recording the Afro-Semitic Experience includes: Warren Byrd--piano David Chevan--bass Will Bartlett--tenor sax, clarinet, and piccolo Alvin Carter, Jr.--drums and percussion Baba David Coleman--percussion Richard A. McGhee III--alto and soprano saxophone Mixashawn.com--tenor sax Stacy Phillips--lap steel guitar, violin, and Harlow resonator guitar Ben Proctor--trumpet Since many of the pieces on this album come from traditional sources we've included these notes to help explain the meanings behind the music. 1. Eliyahu HaNavi This is a traditional Jewish song that dates back to the 11th century. The song is about the prophet Elijah who, it is believed, will announce the coming of the Messiah. It is sung during the Passover Seder and the end of the Sabbath. We've updated the harmonies and added a few little melodic twists mostly at the ends of phrases to give this more of an Afro-Semitic flavor. 2. Tashlikh Tashlikh is a ritual performed by Jews on Rosh HaShanah--the Jewish New Year. You are supposed to go to place where there is running water-- a river or a stream, etc. and take whatever is in your pockets (traditionally bread) and cast it out on the waters. These represent your sins, which you cast away as you repent and cleanse yourself for a new year. You can recite Psalms and other biblical verses as well. The word tashlikh literally means to "cast off." This piece incorporates a traditional African-American song form, the blues, with a melody that employs the ahavoh raboh mode, an ancient synagogue scale. Some of the traditional blues chords have been altered, especially in the last four bars of the form so that the scale will fit the form better and express the feeling of Tashlikh. 3. Sha Shtil This piece was the one that got the band into a bit of hot water when we gave an outdoor concert not long after Sept. 11. It has a good deal of the ahovoh raboh mode in it and that combined with Baba's great drumming probably convinced some listeners that we were trying to be disrespectful and play Arabic music. We almost didn't record this for the CD. At the last minute we just pulled out the chart and jammed on it and here it is--one take--no edits!! Everyone sounds great--but I am particularly taken by Mixashawn's solo and the drum solos by Alvin and Baba--of course Warren sounds great too--listen to how he reinvents the melody toward the end of his solo. 4. Better Get Hit in Your Soul Charles Mingus wrote a number of church and spiritually influenced pieces. Over the years we have played quite a few of his works as they fit well with the over all concept of this group. We added a new introduction to the piece with a bit of synagogue flavor to it, but basically this is one piece that speaks for itself. 5. Nefesh Nefesh is the Hebrew word for soul. Very often, when we finish Better Git Hit we still have so much of it in us that we need to reprise it for a second or two, as one often hears in the gospel tradition, hence, Nefesh. The piece consists of a series of background figures, a hook-like melodic line that comes in at the end of every chorus and a melody that isn't heard until the out chorus behind Rich McGhee's soprano solo. Thank God for Charles Mingus and his nefesh. 6. Shir LaShalom Another song that we featured at our post-Sept. 11 concert, but this was in response to the negativity we were receiving. This song is a popular piece from the Israeli peace movement. It was sung by the late Yitzhak Rabin only moments before he was assassinated. A bloody copy of the lyrics was later found in his jacket pocket. This performance is dedicated to the memories of the many people who have given their lives for peace and freedom. 7. Water From an Ancient Well Abdullah Ibrahim is a South African composer and pianist. He is also a devout Moslem. "Water" is a piece that beautifully expresses his art and his devotion. We always get chills when we play this piece. Alvin loves it so much that he requires that we have to do it at every gig, I don't know about that, but I do love it. 8. Waters of Babylon This one comes from the sound track to Jimmy Cliff's album from the movie, The Harder They Come. We have learned that it is actually a traditional Jamaican church song that was adapted by the group The Melodians for the movie. This is, of course, an Afro-Semitic song that comes from a time long before that term was invented. The lyrics are an adaptation of Psalm 137. Our interpretation allows Stacy to demonstrate his brilliant bluegrass dobro chops. By the waters of Babylon where we sat down And then we wept when we remembered Zion Oh the wicked carried us away to captivity required of us a song How can we sing our holy songs in a strange land Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in thy sight, over I WARREN BYRD AND DAVID CHEVAN THIS IS THE AFRO SEMITIC EXPERIENCE ARTIST BIOS David Chevan is the first-born son of a family of first-generation Jewish immigrants from Poland and Russia. He was musically active from an early age and grew up in a Conservative-Egalitarian Jewish synagogue where he led services from the age of 10. Although much of his performing method on the double-bass has been self taught, Chevan studied briefly with Jon Deak and Victor Gaskin. He credits the master bassist, Lisle Atkinson with showing him the pathway to self- education. As a composer Chevan has primarily focused on works for improvisors. He has written works for a wide range of artists and ensembles, including several collaborations with dance and film. Chevan has had the opportunity to perform and record with a wide range of creative musical artists, including Ali Ryerson, Joe Beck, Jaki Byard, Harold Danko, Ellery Eskelin, Giacomo Gates, Frank London, Andrea Parkins, and Cookie Segelstein. He is alo an Associate Professor of Music at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven. He holds a Ph.D in Music History from C.U.N.Y. and has published numerous articles on the history of early jazz, developed and taught courses on Jewish and African-American musical traditions and is currently studying the music of bassist Milt Hinton as well as a comprehensive study of Jazz Fake Books. Warren Byrd is the youngest of a large fundamentalist music-imbued family. He started performing as a child, gaining extensive experience as an actor, a singer, and pianist, and absorbing a vast, A to Z variety of music. At age 18 he entered Hartt College of Music on full scholarship. He soon left to develop his own methods, emerging as a self-taught composer, arranger, pianist and lyricist, and subsequently, a celebrated New England Artist. Warren's extensive musical work includes directing Gospel choirs, composing for Theatre and Dance, and performing in all genres with some of the finest artists, including Archie Shepp, Jay Hoggard, Kwawaku Martin Obeng, Roseanne Vitro, and Saskia Laroo, and too many more to mention. Warren also accompanies dance and teaches in the Southern New England area. He has been nominated eight times as best keyboardist in the Hartford Advocate's Reader's poll, chosen as one of the top twenty-five pianists of the Thelonious Monk Institute's 1999 contest. Will Bartlett has over twenty-five years experience as a professional musician and music educator. He studied with Jimmy Heath and Lew Tabackin and performed with Frank Foster, Lee Konitz, Slide Hampton and Roswell Rudd among many others. He leads his own group, Joy Spring as well as the Will Bartlett Ensemble. His family belongs to the Lebanese-American Christian community. Alvin Benjamin Carter, Jr. (Babafemi) is a multi-percussionist who had his musical beginnings on congas and later added drum set and many other types of percussion to his list. He currently focuses on African-American improvisational music but has been active in many different musical styles for many years. Alvin leads his own groups LEGACY: The Keepers of Tradition and The Alvin Carter Project. He also performs with Rafiki, which is led by Alvin Carter, Sr. Baba David Coleman is an African drumming Master. He was born in New York and has spent the better part of his adult life traveling and performing. He recently moved to New Haven where he quickly established himself as a leading figure in the local African drum world. He has studied with Baba Femi and continues to be a disciple of the legendary Chief Bey, the oldest African- American hand drummer. Richard McGhee III is a composer/multi-reed instrumentalist. He leads his own group, Trytone, and performs with Anthony Braxton. His approach to music is "grassroots" composition. In keeping with the Bolden and Ellington Schools of composition his work reflects two major components: (1) Works composed with and for specific performers and, (2) Works which have been inspired by the "human condition" in the United States and the African Diaspora. Mixashawn.com has performed and recorded with some of the most influential artists of our time, including Bobby McFerrin, Rashied Ali, and Ronald Shannon Jackson. This Jazz artist, composer, and educator comes from a multi-cultural musical legacy that spans 4 centuries and both sides of the Atlantic. He is, in fact, a 21st century Griot, "...decode the equation." Stacy Phillips is a steel (slide) guitarist and violinist. He was featured artist on the 1996 Grammy award winning album, The Great Dobro Sessions. He has performed and taught around the world and has more than 25 books and videos to his credit, including Mel Bay's Klezmer Collection. He knows someone who spoke to Bob Dylan. Ben Proctor was born and raised in Connecticut and currently lives in New York City where he performs as a singer, composer, trumpeter, guitarist, and leads the country and bluegrass-inspired rock band JIMSONWEED. His current work as a songwriter explores the roots, tradition, and political context of American folk music.



to write a review

Alex Epshteyn

Excellent Stuff
The music is great and so is the quality of the recording.


Excellent fusion of African rhythms and Semitic vibes. I loved every song

Jeudi Carr

Oozing fabulous Jazz
What I really like about this CD is that it kind of eases you into a state of mind that is so mellow. It reaches your soul and just carrys it along to a great place. Superbly devine.