Gig Review:
DAPHNA SADEH & THE VOYAGERS
At The Brighton Jewish Music Festival
Komedia, Gardner Street, Brighton, Monday 10th November 2003, 8 pm
Photo of Daphna Sadeh And The Voyagers
Daphna Sadeh And The Voyagers
L to R: Koby Israelite, Assaf Seewi, Daphna Sadeh, Stewart Curtis, Nim Schwartz
All photos this page by Richard A. Sharma and Copyright © Richard A. Sharma 2003. All rights reserved. Any reproduction, copying, or storage by any means whatsoever including but not limited to electronic/digital means without written prior permission prohibited. Linking to individual photographs on this page prohibited.

Harmony in the Community
presents
The Brighton Jewish Music Festival

Daphna Sadeh And The Voyagers
Komedia
Gardner Street
Brighton
Monday, 10th November 2003, 8pm

Feat.

Daphna Sadeh - Composer, Arranger, Double Bass
Stewart Curtis - Saxophone, Clarinet, Flutes
Koby Israelite - Accordion
Nim Schwartz - Oud
Assaf Seewi - Percussion




Programme

  1. Night Train to the East - D. Sadeh
  2. Middle Eastern Tango - D. Sadeh
  3. La Rosa Enflorese - Ladino song (Trad.)
  4. Laila (Ancient Memories) - D. Sadeh
  5. Dream Hunter (Inner Sound) - D. Sadeh
  6. Paradise (Awakening) - D. Sadeh
  7. Debka - Folklore Bedouin (Trad.)
  8. The Voyager Song - Traditional Jewish (Bukhara)
  9. Out of Border - D. Sadeh
10. Der Heyser Bulgar (Trad.)

All arrangements by D. Sadeh



Date of Review: 2003/11/12


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Photo of Daphna Sadeh
Daphna Sadeh
Photo of Koby Israelite, accordion, Daphna Sadeh, double bass, and Stewart Curtis, clarinet
Koby Israelite, accordion, Daphna Sadeh, double bass, and Stewart Curtis, clarinet


Do You Want To Come To Paradise?


The closing event of the first Brighton Festival of Jewish Music, presented by Harmony in the Community, featured the all-star Daphna Sadeh & The Voyagers. Lead by world-class composer, arranger and bassist Daphna Sadeh, this time entirely on acoustic double bass, the Voyager line-up features multi-woodwind wizard Stewart Curtis on sax, clarinet, flute, piccolo and recorder, ace multi-instrumentalist Koby Israelite on accordion, classical guitar and oud wizard Nim Schwartz on oud, and percussion magician Assaf Seewi on a mix of principally Afro-Latin and Middle Eastern percussion.

A Monday is undoubtedly the worst possible of all days to pick for staging any kind of gig, in the ordinary run of things. However, there was nothing ordinary about this mild November Monday night at Brighton's Komedia. As the appointed hour approached, the tables started filling up, and Monday or not, a more than respectable crowd had built up. They were rewarded with one of those rare and most memorable events when a musical performance transcends into an extraordinary experience of sublime magic.

Photo of Daphna Sadeh, Stewart Curtis (here on flute), and Nim Schwartz
Daphna Sadeh, Stewart Curtis (here on flute), and Nim Schwartz

The moment Daphna Sadeh And The Voyagers started playing, it was obvious that this evening's performance was more than a bit special, something entirely out of the ordinary in fact. Daphna Sadeh didn't so much play her bass as make love to, or rather, with it, player and instrument became one and then transcended themselves to become one with the music, become the music itself. And this also applied to the other members of the Voyagers. Players, instruments, ensemble - all became the music, extraordinary music. In introducing one of the pieces, Ms. Sadeh referred to the kabbalistic notion that music is the song of the heart, a song coming straight from the heart. This indeed would have been well applied to the whole set. This entire extraordinary performance was a spiritual, even mystical experience in the truest kabbalistic sense. Physical reality was suspended, all that was left was this extraordinary music and "oneness", "oneness" with the unknowable. Daphna Sadeh And The Voyagers had taken us to a plane totally beyond the corporeal, to a state of pure ecstasy. "Do you want to come to Paradise?", Daphna Sadeh asked in introducing her composition Paradise. The unanimous response of the audience was a raucous, ecstatic "Yes!", and as Ms. Sadeh and her fellow Voyagers incredibly, improbably and breathtakingly raised the music by yet another degree, we got as close to Gan Eydn (the Garden of Eden) as it's possible to get.

Photo of Assaf Seewi, Daphna Sadeh, and Stewart Curtis on flute
Assaf Seewi, Daphna Sadeh, and Stewart Curtis on flute

The set played by Daphna Sadeh And The Voyagers consisted essentially of the same mix of outstanding Daphna Sadeh originals and traditional material drawn from the Ladino, Bedouin, and Bukharan Jewish repertoire, all masterfully arranged by Ms. Sadeh, that they presented a few weeks earlier at Momo in London, with the addition of the encore which was drawn from the traditional klezmer repertoire. A sophisticated and organic blend of traditional Jewish and other Middle Eastern styles with solid, passionate jazz, with the latter element decidedly to the fore, Daphna Sadeh & The Voyagers' music is in the finest tradition of world jazz.

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Photo of Daphna Sadeh
Daphna Sadeh





Photo of Stewart Curtis, on clarinet
Stewart Curtis, on clarinet





Photo of Nim Schwartz
Nim Schwartz
Photo of Koby Israelite
Koby Israelite

Photo of Assaf Seewi
Assaf Seewi

Photo of Stewart Curtis, here on alto sax
Stewart Curtis, here on alto sax

Photo of Daphna Sadeh
Daphna Sadeh

Photo of Nim Schwartz
Nim Schwartz

Photo of Daphna Sadeh taking her audience through an extatic tour de force
Daphna Sadeh taking her audience through an ecstatic tour de force

Photo of Assaf Seewi
Assaf - 'The Amazing Assaf' - Seewi



Extended improvs abounded throughout the set. Daphna Sadeh is the most exciting and inventive bass player I have heard since Ron Carter (and possibly Dave Holland), and this night she revealed herself an incredible, highly creative improviser. But all her co-Voyagers were given ample, equal opportunity to shine. Switching between clarinet, alto sax, flute, piccolo and recorder as effortlessly as a condor soaring upwards on a thermal, Stewart Curtis excelled on each of his axes with accomplished and brilliantly inventive improvs. What Curtis did with the humble recorder almost defied belief. Never has a recorder sounded like this! At times reminiscent of a ney from hell, this captivating sound was beyond description. Stewart Curtis amply demonstrated why as both a woodwind player and improviser he has few peers. Multi-instrumentalist Koby Israelite proved himself to be fast developing into one of the most outstanding accordionists, and is an accomplished improviser never short of ideas. The finest oud player in Britain that I have heard, Nim Schwartz wasn't holding back either in his solo contributions. On percussion, Assaf Seewi more than justified his epithet "Amazing Assaf" with his outstanding solos. A veritable "supergroup" of world music and world jazz, Daphna Sadeh & The Voyagers have fast grown into one of the tightest bands around, and it is very much to be hoped that this remarkable line-up will remain with us for a very long time to come.

In addition to being a near peerless bassist and highly accomplished improviser, composer, arranger and leader, Daphna Sadeh is also fast maturing as a skilful communicator with her audience on a verbal level. Her natural charm, wit, charisma and warmth had her audience practically wrapped around her little finger.

Photo of Daphna Sadeh bowing her all
Daphna Sadeh bowing her all

A nicely rounded, well balanced set, the high-octane rocket fuel Night Train to the East opener set an exhilarating and near improbable pace that got the night off to an almost unbelievably swinging start that could have left one wondering just where the band could possibly go from there. However, such minor detail seems to become irrelevant where Daphna Sadeh And The Voyagers are concerned, and the pace never let up, the momentum was sustained right through even the more contemplative pieces. The Piazzollaesque Middle Eastern Tango, like each and every succeeding number, kept raising the ante further and further, raising the performance to ever more improbable dizzy heights. That old Ladino favourite, La Rosa Enflorese (also associated with the Sabbath eve, the melody being used for one of its prayers), sounds fresh and new with each performance by Ms. Sadeh, and this night a whole new world of beauty was revealed in this familiar song. By now long soaring far above and beyond the corporeal plane, Laila and Dream Hunter took us on to yet higher levels, the ecstatic Paradise took us right there if indeed we weren't there already, the exuberant Debka and The Voyager Song never letting up for one moment. The closer, Out of Border, summed up this breathtaking and most extraordinary performance, nay, experience. Borders, all borders of any kind, had long been transcended and made utterly irrelevant in the embrace of pure ecstasy. The ovation Daphna Sadeh & The Voyagers received was quite as extraordinary as such an extraordinary night as this practically demands. It must have reverberated right through Brighton and shaken the Palace Pier down to its very foundations. The mandatory encore took the form of Der Heyser Bulgar, a traditional klezmer dance tune, played at an exhilarating break-neck tempo that, although much too fast for dancing (not that this stopped those from trying who enthusiastically took up Ms. Sadeh's invitation and crowded the dance floor!), was entirely fitting in the context of the sheer exuberance and ecstasy of this magical night.

Photo of Koby Israelite, Assaf Seewi, Daphna Sadeh, and Stewart Curtis
Daphna Sadeh & The Voyagers - Koby Israelite, Assaf Seewi, Daphna Sadeh, and Stewart Curtis

Alas, all good things have to come to an end. But the memory of this most extraordinary musical experience will doubtless remain vivid for many years to come for anybody who was fortunate enough to have been there. This evening was a true triumph for the Brighton Festival of Jewish Music, its organisers Harmony in the Community, and of course Daphna Sadeh And The Voyagers. The festival couldn't have closed on a higher note.

For those who weren't fortunate enough to have attended this outstanding event, look out for plenty more gigs featuring Daphna Sadeh and the Voyagers in the near future (keep checking the Jewish Music UK Calendar page). Whatever you do, be sure to catch the fabulous Daphna Sadeh & The Voyagers live at least once - you might live to regret it if you don't!

 

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Photo of Koby Israelite
Koby Israelite
 

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