Daphna Sadeh, Koby Israelite
Stewart Curtis, Nim Schwartz, Assaf Seewi
Daphna Sadeh, Koby Israelite
Following on from a small "warm-up" gig in September, Daphna Sadeh introduced the new full line-up of Daphna Sadeh & The Voyagers to a larger audience at Momo, a Middle Eastern-themed club in London's Mayfair, on Tuesday, 14th October. This latest incarnation of Daphna Sadeh's Voyagers represents a truly remarkable all-star line-up. Lead by world-class composer and bassist Daphna Sadeh herself, on this occasion - given the very cramped conditions - wisely limiting herself to electric or Stick Bass, this new line-up features multi-woodwind ace Stewart Curtis on sax, clarinet, flute, piccolo and recorder, versatile multi-instrumentalist Koby Israelite on accordion, classical guitar wizard Nim Schwartz on oud, and percussion magician the amazing Assaf Seewi on a mix of principally Afro-Latin and Middle Eastern percussion.
Each of these performers is an outstanding musician in his/her own right with a very respectable track record. Together, Daphna Sadeh & The Voyagers are a huge powder keg.
The intimate if very dimly lit basement bar at Momo was packed to capacity. As seems usual for especially West End clubs these days, there regrettably was a fair-sized element of clubbers who wouldn't be detracted from holding half-shouted conversations (if such a thing is ever really possible in such conditions) if a thermo-nuclear blast went off next door. However,
there was also a hardcore of enthusiastic music lovers. And while the tiny stage area was not only extremely cramped but also about as dimly lit as the rest of the room, none of this could detract from the excellence of Daphna Sadeh & The Voyagers and their fabulous music.
The programme featured a mix of superb Daphna Sadeh originals and traditional material drawn from the Ladino, Bedouin, and Bukharan Jewish repertoire, all masterfully arranged by Ms. Sadeh. A skilful and un-forced blend of traditional Jewish and other Middle Eastern styles with light western classical touches discernible here and there and a good helping of jazz, Daphna Sadeh & The Voyager's music is world music in the finest sense of that term. The high-octane Night Train to the East opener set an exciting, exhilarating pace that got the night off to a great swinging start. The momentum was never lost throughout the evening, carrying through the sublime Middle Eastern Tango, the unforgettable old favourite, La Rosa Enflorese (in an equally unforgettable gentle swing arrangement), the highly evocative Laila and Dream Hunter, on to the superlative Paradise, the exuberant Debka and The Voyager Song, to the transcendental closer Out of Border, the title track of Daphna Sadeh's recent album. An encore was mandatory, needless to say.
Stewart Curtis, Nim Schwartz, Daphna Sadeh
Daphna Sadeh's outstanding and often hauntingly beautiful compositions and arrangements, as well as her great charisma, warmth, charm and sensitivity as a performer of impeccable musicianship and virtuosity, were all superbly complemented by her fellow Voyagers. Wind man Stewart Curtis, Britain's best kept secret in the woodwind jazz and klezmer area, is as equally at home on clarinet, sax, and flutes as that grand old master of the first wave of then still to be named "world jazz", Yusef Lateef on oboes, flutes and sax. Curtis has a distinctive, individual voice on all, and makes switching between his axes seem as easy and as natural as breathing air. Koby Israelite, another wizard at switching between multiple instruments, might have been born with an accordion in his hands. Nim Schwartz is probably the most outstanding oud player in Britain. Otherwise also (justly!) known as The Amazing Assaf, Assaf Seewi is a veritable percussion phenomenon from the Hip Hop scene. Each a leader in his own right, these musicians melded into an amazingly tight ensemble. This new all-star line-up of Daphna Sadeh & The Voyagers could justly be described as a true "supergroup" of world music. Long may they stay together and give us their wonderful music!
This night's gig at Momo was a great success for Daphna Sadeh and The Voyagers. Their next major date is at the Brighton Festival of Jewish Music on Monday, 10th November (see the calendar page for details). This will also be reviewed here. They will also be performing in the foyer of the National Theatre in London on Friday, 14th November. If you haven't heard Daphna Sadeh and the Voyagers live yet, keep an eye on the calendar feature and don't let any opportunity to hear them pass you by.
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