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Sephardic Sounds

A new compilation album highlights the diversity of contemporary Jewish music

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(Photoillustration: Abigail Miller/Tablet Magazine. Photo: Library of Congress)

Erez Safar, a producer and DJ who performs under the name Diwon, is enchanted by music and sounds from the Sephardic world. Six years ago, he founded the annual Sephardic Music Festival, which takes place in New York City over Hanukkah and features artists who meld Sephardic motifs with hip-hop, house music, electronica, and pretty much every musical genre, with the exception of klezmer.

Now Safar has produced a Sephardic Music Festival compilation album, which captures the sounds of the festival even for those who couldn’t be in New York for it. It includes songs by well-known musicians Matisyahu, Yasmin Levy, and Galeet Dardashti, along with less-familiar artists, like DeScribe and Shmoolik, who team up for a reggaeton-meets-Middle East pop track in French and Hebrew.

For Vox Tablet this week, Rob Weisberg, the host of WFMU’s Transpacific Sound Paradise—“New York’s peerless world music show,” according to Time Out—took a look at the album. [Running time: 15:33.] 

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Susan Zuckerman says:

I just pre-ordered the cd. It sounds really wonderful. I’m a big fan of Balkan Beat Box and Matisyahu.

Susan, as a Balkan Beat Box fan, you might enjoy Sara Ivry’s Tablet podcast interview with the band’s masterminds: Plus you may get a kick out of this: BBB live from Lincoln Center Out of Doors, August 2010 as heard on my radio show: And enjoy the cd!

Exactly how do I order the cd?

Huge fan of Yasmin Levy. Saw her at the Skirball in LA.
Plus, my wife is Sephardi so I have to keep up with these things.

Sorry to be a bit pedantic, but that’s a picture of a Yemenite Jew. Yemenite Jews are not Sepharadim. Their roots don’t go back to Spain. Here in Israel, tell a Yemenite that he’s a Sepharadi and he’ll very quickly set you straight.

Sara Ivry says:

@Jay, you can order the cd here:

Alyssa says:

Thank you for having some Sephardic stuff on Tablet :) happy happy Jew now

@Aryeh: No wonder he looks so perplexed! More seriously, though, thank you for the correction. You’re right – the rabbi in the photo is Yemenite. The illustration was meant to depict, broadly speaking, an encounter between the old and the new, but perhaps we ought to have been more particular in our selection.

Sara, thanks so much. I just ordered. You’re an angel

Don’t miss Vanessa Paloma in the Sephardic Music Fest on the Monday night at the Center for Jewish History in Union Sq. She is coming from Casablanca and is a real source on the Ladino women’s music of North Africa.

There is a lot happening in the festival not on the compilation CD.

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Sephardic Sounds

A new compilation album highlights the diversity of contemporary Jewish music

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