Composer/Leader Eugene Marlow's
quintet The Heritage Ensemble
is devoted to the concert performance of well-known Hebraic liturgical and folksong melodies in various jazz, Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, and neo-classical styles. (See below for latest review.) The group's inaugural CD "Making the Music Our Own" is available at cdbaby.com.
The Heritage Ensemble: Eugene Marlow (founder/pianist) with Todd Bashore (saxophones), Frank Wagner (bass), Cristian Rivera (percussion), and guest artist, multi-Grammy nominee Bobby Sanabria (drums)
"Eugene Marlow's Heritage Ensemble's 'Making the Music Our Own' is a remarkable musical achievement: traditional liturgical melodies meet up with a contemporary jazz sensibility, and are rediscovered in a new musical and spiritual light!"
Isaiah Sheffer, Artistic Director, Symphony Space, New York City
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Sets: 8:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie Auditorium (part of the Jazz Tuesdays at the Baha'i Center)
53 East 11th Street (between University Place and Broadway)
New York, New York 10003
Tickets: $15; $10 with student ID at the door
"Hebraic Melodies and Latin Rhythms Fuse in Historic Synagogue"
City Lore, New York City
On September 13th at the Eldridge Street Synagogue in Manhattan's Lower East Side I had the opportunity to listen to an aural feast. Eugene Marlow's Heritage Ensemble performed their repertoire of Hebrew and Latin music fusion in the sacred space of the historic synagogue.
All the melodies they played (arranged by Eugene Marlow) were either Hebrew liturgical music or folksongs, so there was already a spiritual element built in. The Latin American styles--such as the Afro-Cuban rumba, the Brazilian baion and the Puerto Rican seis chorreao--melodically and harmonically have roots in the Middle East. The minor tonality inherent in Hebraic cantorial songs lent the compositions to being adapted to a traditional jazz idiom as well as Latin American rhythms. It was a natural combination and the Heritage Ensemble explored these connections in various ways.
In one piece they took a liturgical song, "Hinei Ma Tov" ("Behold how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity"), and adapted it to a blues with swing rhythm; another cantorial song was adapted to an Afro-Cuban bembé. Marlow's vision is unique both on a spiritual and a musical level, as he takes Hebraic melodies and gives them an even deeper musical meaning by showing the common thread in all music that represents Soul.
The interaction among multi-Grammy nominee guest artist drummer Bobby Sanabria, percussionist Cristian Rivera, saxophonist Michael Hashim, and acoustic bassist Frank Wagner, along with Marlow on piano indeed demonstrated how the polyrhythmic nature of Latin music blends with the Hebraic. Highlights included a finale when Sanabria and Rivera exploded in a flurry of rhythmic virtuosity. A blues-tinged piece, "Heivenu Shalom Aleichem" ("Peace Unto You"), showcased Marlow and bassist Frank Wagner in a pure, straight-ahead jazz context--the melody was Hebraic, but the playing was drenched in the blues.
All music is a fusion of ongoing cultural forms and styles, and New York City is definitely the vortex of cultural fusions. So it was an extraordinary experience to hear Eugene Marlow's Heritage Ensemble in the heart of a New York City neighborhood that represents this coming together of cultures.