..... music for occasions.....


Traditional Jewish Wedding
Goes International

One of my favorite places to create special music is at the Brazilian Room in Berkeley's Tilden Park.  There's just something about the wooded setting and charm of the building that always puts a smile on my face.  Once when I was playing at an Open House there, I noticed a woman sitting not ten feet from me, listening very intently.  About 45 minutes into my set, one of my musical partners arrived with his West-African kora (21-string harp).  As soon as we started to play together, she got up and brought her fiancée to sit right next to us and listen.

When I finished that set she came up to me and said, "I really like your different instruments—the piano, voice, your strange looking marimba, this Middle-Eastern drum, and I love this flute of yours.  It's bigger than the one I played as a child.  And all the different styles, too.  I think that you're the one who could handle what I've got planned for my wedding."  I replied, "I get the sense that you're not only a musician, but that you also compose your own pieces.  Am I right about this?"  She said, "Now I know you can handle all the music for my wedding."

Here's what finally emerged for her entire wedding:  as her guests arrived, I was joined by two of her long-time musician friends in three traditional Jewish songs, alternating between alto flute and Middle-Eastern dumbek.  We also played one of her original songs during the ceremony, as well accompanying the rousing hora dancing right after they "smashed the glass" (the customary ending to a Jewish wedding).  For the first half of the reception I joined my kora-playing friend on my West-African balafon (marimba), voice, shakers, and melodica (small harmonica-like keyboard).  The second half of the reception featured a quartet of top-call session players on saxes, basses, drum set, and myself on piano/keyboard for a delightful mix of instrumental jazz and pop music.

All in all, a very fun time was had by all...