Photos: Klezmer/Bhangra Concert w/ Frank London’s Klezmer Brass All-Stars, Deep Singh at the Washington Jewish Music Fest.
by manu narayan
I had the pleasure of singing with Grammy award winning trumpeter Frank London and master percussionist Deep Singh this past Tuesday, May 7, 2013, as part of the Washington Jewish Music Festival at the 16th Street JCC, Washington DC.
The concert also featured Yiddish Poet/Klezmer Singer Sarah Gordon, Guitarist/Singer Jeremiah Lockwood, and The Frank London Klezmer Brass All-Stars: Aaron Alexander (Drum set); Ron Caswell (Tuba); Brian Drye (Trombone); Patrick Farrell (Accordion); and Michael Winograd (Clarinet).
I always enjoy singing with Frank. The music making in rehearsals and performance is fun and exhilarating, and he always has the best musicians.
Although I had sung with Frank, Aaron, and Ron around Europe as a part of Frank’s A Night in The Old Marketplace, and had done months on Broadway with Deep Singh during Bombay Dreams, this was the first time that we and the rest of the band collaborated on this new material. The prep for this concert was a little different for me because I was battling a horrible cold through the first two rehearsals, the set list was filled with songs that many of us had not done before, and we were performing music from seemingly opposite ends of the music spectrum. But we found common ground quickly.
Klezmer, historically the Jewish wedding, dance and spiritual music of Eastern Europe and West, is sometimes combined with other styles of world music, such as Jazz, Gypsy, Pop, etc. Similarly the South Asian music on the set, Punjabi Bhangra, South Indian Karnatic, North Indian Hindustani, Pakistani Qawwali, and Bollywood Film music, are the wedding, dance, and spiritual music of the various regions of the South Asia and are often combined with other styles. I am always struck by how much the melodic scales that I hear in Klezmer, echo in the south Indian Classical Ragas that I grew up listening to, and then studying. It was wonderful to feel the rhythmic and harmonic instruments add to the South Asian Melodies, in addition to Deep and his Dhol adding interesting eastern and western dance grooves to the Klezmer Music. Each of us dove head first into understanding melodic, rhythmic, harmonic, and language specificities of each song. In the end, it was a great collaboration all around.
The Frank London Klezmer Brass All-Stars kicked off the evening with a medley of Klezmer tunes including: Wedding Crown Heights, German Hora, Moldovian Hora and Fast Hasidic Nign. Deep and Jeremiah played Zalubij Se; Sarah Gordon joined in with Shabbos in Feld & Lubo Nign; and then I joined in completing the band, singing Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s hit Mustt, Mustt. Other songs in the rest of the set included Klezmer tunes Lustige Hasidim; the South Indian Karnatic Classic Purandara Dasa song Venkatachala Nilayam; A.R. Rahman’s Chhaya, Chayya from the film Dil Se and Bombay Dreams. Other items included Jeremiah singing a Cantorial style song while accompanying himself on the guitar, and a new song composed by Frank with Yiddish lyrics written and sung by Sarah: M and M.
VIDEO: Manu Narayan sings “MUSTT, MUSTT” in Klezmer /Bhangra Concert w/Frank London’s Klezmer All-Stars, Deep Singh at the Washington Jewish Music Fest.
VIDEO: Manu Narayan sings “Venkatachala Nilayam” in Klezmer/Bhangra Concert w/ Frank London’s Klezmer All-Stars, Deep Singh at the Washington Jewish Music Fest.
During the concert, the sold out audience of fellow musicians and music festival patrons, which included former Ohio Representative/Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich and his wife Elizabeth, and fans were on their feet, dancing and clapping throughout the 100 minute concert.
A highlight of the night was the popular song, Mo Asapro, Ma Adabro. It appears in many languages and is a traditional cumulative song sung on Passover and found in the haggadah. It enumerates common Jewish motifs and teachings. It is meant to be fun and humorous. Sarah sang our version in Yiddish with the audience clapping and singing along. The solo section was fantastic with each of our musicians taking a turn, then culminating in the final percussion duel. The song has lyrics that count in Yiddish to 13.
VIDEO: Sarah Gordon and Manu Narayan sing “Mo Asapro, Ma Adabro” Klezmer/Bhangra Concert w/ Frank London’s Klezmer All-Stars, Deep Singh at the Washington Jewish Music Fest.
The encore was a three song medley with Frank starting an instrumental jam on his hit Mi Yamalay which segued into the Bhangra hit Tunak, Tunak, Tun and then ending with Sarah rocking out on a final Yiddish song.
At the end, the audience held nothing back, they stood clapping and singing for the entire encore. They gave a lengthy, loud, appreciatve standing ovation, and their after concert giddiness seemed to be a good omen for the future of our “Klezmer Brass All Stars Bhangra Concert Extravaganza!”
It was nice to meet Dennis and Elizabeth Kucinich. They were so kind and are real fans (rightfully so) of Michael and Frank.
It was also nice to hang out with some old friends after the concert. I was so happy to see my old roommate from Carnegie Mellon University, Tim Conley and a dear family friend whom I grew up with in Pittsburgh, Padma Natarajan and her friend Amy. All three came out on short notice and it meant a lot.
Deep Singh, is one of those musicians who inspires me every time I either hear him play or I am singing with him. I am proud to call him brother and friend. On Tuesday night, he was solely on Dhol, the punjabi wedding and Dance drum, playing it at different times as the loud dynamic Punjabi Wedding instrument it was made for, at other times with light stick work like the Cuban timbales, and still at other times with his fingers like the south Indian Mrudangam. He has the percussion abilities and talent of all of the master percussionists in India, while having the facility to introduce the best pop, reggae, Hip Hop, rock and roll beats without needing a machine to keep the beat steady. He is a machine, a talented, calculating, hand/ eye/ ear coordinating Machine !!!! When he plays you feel like you are in the best pocket the best groove, which is probably why Sting, Mark Mothersbaugh, Malkit Singh, Hariharan, Falu Shah and many many others ask for him to be in their studios and play on their concerts. A renowned percussionist/composer/studio musician, Deep Singh was born in London, England, and is currently based in NYC. Singh began to play the Tabla at the age three, and at the age of seven became the youngest disciple of Ustad Allah Rakha. Singh’s professional career started at the age of nine, and since has performed at prestigious venues such as The Royal Albert Hall, London; The Royal Festival Hall, London; The Waldorf Astoria, NYC, Carnegie Hall, NYC, among many others. Singh has accompanied the finest musicians from India such as Dr.Aruna Sharma, Ustad Salamat Ali Khan, Ustad Sultan Khan, Hariharan, Ghulam Ali and many more. He is currently touring a concert of Indian classical music and working with other percussion bands.
After many years of playing in the NYC downtown club scene and merging Indian sounds with rock/pop, he is now coming out with his own unique style of music. With his years of experience as an Indian classical musician and playing with western bands, Singh is revered as a master in blending music from the East and West.
As always, the hit of the night was Frank London. With his infectious energy, his amazing horn solos, and his ability to organize and conduct the concert on the fly. I am always amazed at his tirelessness and ability to expertly digest different styles of music and quickly arrange them for his bands.
Frank London (trumpeter, composer, bandleader) is a member of the Klezmatics, Hasidic New Wave, has performed with John Zorn, LL Cool J, Mel Torme, Lester Bowieπs Brass Fantasy, LaMonte Young, They Might Be Giants, David Byrne, Jane Siberry, Ben Folds 5, Mark Ribot, Maurice El Medioni and Gal Costa, and is featured on over 100 cds. His own recordings include INVOCATIONS (cantorial music); Frank London’s Klezmer Brass Allstars’ DI SHIKERE KAPELYE and BROTHERHOOD OF BRASS; NIGUNIM and THE ZMIROS PROJECT (Jewish mystical songs, with Klezmatics vocalist Lorin Sklamberg); THE DEBT (film and theater music); THE SHEKHINA BIG BAND; the soundtrack to THE SHVITZ; the soundtrack to Perl Gluck’s THE DIVAHN and four releases with the Hasidic New Wave.
His projects include the folk-opera A NIGHT IN THE OLD MARKETPLACE (based on Y.L. Peretz’s Bay nakht oyfn altn mark), DAVENEN for Pilobolus and the Klezmatics, Great Small Works’ THE MEMOIRS OF GLUCKEL OF HAMELN and Min Tanaka’s ROMANCE. He composed music for John Sayles’ THE BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET and MEN WITH GUNS, Yvonne Rainer’s MURDER AND MURDER, the Czech-American Marionette Theaterπs GOLEM and Tamar Rogoff’s IVYE PROJECT.
He was music director for David Byrne and Robert Wilson’s THE KNEE PLAYS, collaborated with Palestinian violinist Simon Shaheen, taught Jewish music in Canada, Crimea and the Catskills, and produced CD’s for Gypsy Ledgend Esma Redzepova, and Algerian Pianist Maurice el Medioni.
He has been featured on HBO’s “SEX AND THE CITY,” at the North Sea Jazz Festival and the Lincoln Center Summer Festival, and was a co-founder of Les Miserables Brass Band and the Klezmer Conservatory Band.