Category: Performer Biographies

RebbeSoul: Jewish roots, world music

By , January 14, 2014 10:04 am

Deeply emotional and rooted in the ancient songs of Judaism, the music of RebbeSoul brings a modern vibe that re-imagines the music of our ancestors. This is not your grandmother’s Jewish Music.  This is not some crazy mash-up of eclectic sounds.  This is spiritually-based music with modern sensibilities and a deep respect for the past.

After earning a degree in engineering, Bruce Burger (aka RebbeSoul)set off to explore L.A.’s music scene.

Leaving parental expectations and  upstate New York’s brilliant autumns and wintry snows behind him,  it was in L.A. that he finally found his sound….and his voice.

At the age of 22, after sharing a Shabbat dinner with an Orthodox family he was inspired to write “Sister Sarah.”  Despite having been a secular Jew for many years, this experience touched him so deeply that he was moved to take on the name RebbeSoul.

As he added the melodies of nigunim and prayers to his repertoire he made a decision. “Every time I play as RebbeSoul, I put something on my head….To the great Rebbes, a nigun, a melody, is something that comes from the heart and goes straight to heaven without anything getting in the way.  So when I do it, I want to make sure there is something on my head, out of respect.”

To strengthen his connection to the Jewish people even further, Burger made aliya in 2007. Now residing in Zichron Ya’acov, he is exploring his musical roots and enjoying where his musical journey is taking him.

The Judaica Sound Archives at FAU’s Wimberly Library is delighted to be able to add Bruce Burger as our newest JSA featured performer. Click on any album below.

 

Can “Boardwalk Empire” era Jewish piano rolls still find an audience?

By , October 14, 2013 8:35 am

Vintage Jewish piano roll boxes

Player pianos, pianolas and piano rolls were all the rage during Prohibition. 

By the early 1920’s new advances in piano-roll technology gave rise to a complex, performance-oriented style of music that became the soundtrack of an era.

All types of music were recorded on piano rolls, from Ragtime  to folk songs; from Jazz to Cantorial masterpieces. So….can these “Boardwalk Empire” era Jewish piano rolls still find an audience in today’s  fast-paced electronic world?

Can these relics of another age resonate with a modern audience?

The Judaica Sound Archives at FAU Libraries invited Bob Berkman, one of the last great piano roll aficionados, to demonstrate his skills before a live audience….and…..his appearance was a huge success!

Yet, relatively few people have ever had the pleasure of  attending  a live pianola concert featuring Bob Berkman and his authentic piano rolls.

A wonderful opportunity

Bob Berkman

Now the JSA is giving you the chance to peek behind the scenes, get a front row seat and enjoy the experience of a by-gone era.

These clips were created from video taken at Bob Berkman’s performance during FAU Library’s 2013 kultur festival by Alethea Perez, FAU Recorded Sound Archives operations coordinator.

(1) Bob Berkman explains how the pianola works.

(2) Bob Berkman sets up the pianola.

(3) Bob Berkman shares some historical facts about the pianola and plays some tunes.

Related Links:  Bio     Online Collection

 

 

Pianola pushed up to piano and ready to play.

 

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Sophie Tucker: Last of the Red-Hot Mamas

By , September 16, 2013 10:00 am

 

Known as the Last of the Red Hot Mamas, Sophie Tucker had a career that began in vaudeville, embraced the new jazz age of the 1920’s and lasted well into the 1960s.

Widely known for her bawdy humor (which may seem tame by today’s standards) and her big personality, she never lost touch with her Jewish roots.

Sophie Tucker ‘s original Decca rendition of My Yiddishe Momme, recorded in 1928, featured an English version on Side A and a Yiddish version on Side B.  Among the recordings she made on the Mercury label beginning in the 1950s was this rendition of My Mother’s Sabbath Candles, also in both English and Yiddish versions.

Sophie Tucker quotes

I couldn’t make [Momme] understand that it wasn’t a career that I was after. It was just that I wanted a life that didn’t mean spending most of it at the cookstove and the kitchen sink. (Some of the Days, 1945)

Everyone knew the theater was to be closed down, and a landmark in show business would be gone. That feeling got into the acts. The whole place, even the performers, stank of decay. I seemed to smell it. It challenged me. I was determined to give the audience the idea: why brood over yesterday? We have tomorrow. As I sang I could feel the atmosphere change. The gloom began to lift, the spirit which formerly filled the Palace and which made it famous among vaudeville houses the world over came back. That’s what an entertainer can do. (Concerning the November 19, 1932 closing of the Palace theater in NYC, i.e. the end of vaudeville.)

Selected items from our collection of Sophie Tucker recordings.

Sophie Tucker’s performance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Autographed inside flap from copy of Tucker’s autobiography

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High Holy Days in a Conservative Synagogue

By , August 22, 2013 12:59 pm

 

5774     A new year.  In case you haven’t noticed…the world is changing.

I’ve heard it a thousand times, “things just aren’t the way they used to be!”

The future is unpredictable. Like a wind storm moving things helter-skelter, we never know where things will end up.

The past, on the other hand, is well-known and stable. The values, traditions and  perspectives of our parents, grandparents and ancestors do not change. We may cherish the past or we may discard it.  You get to choose.

Ask yourself, “What happens to the past when you are no longer around to remember it?” Does it disappear? Or does it remain as a treasure trove of discovery for  future generations?

High Holy Days in the Conservative Synagogue  sung by Cantor Moshe Schwimmer is just one example  of how the Judaica Sound Archives attempts to bring the unique qualities of early 20th century European liturgical music into the present. And, hopefully, the future.

This wonderful recording was created by the JSA from the private recordings of Cantor Moshe Schwimmer and can only be heard on this website. Moshe Schwimmer was a cantor whose beautiful voice and soulful singing touched audiences for decades. Yet, his voice might have been lost forever were it not for one man’s strong desire to cherish his brother’s memory and protect his legacy.

Zalman Schwimmer (a.k.a. Sydney), personally hand-carried his brother’s private tape recordings (along with some memorabilia and biographical information) to the Wimberly Library on Florida Atlantic University’s Boca Raton campus. He told us about his brother, “He never made any commercial recordings.  That wasn’t for him. He didn’t want to be famous. He didn’t try to please others.  He was just always striving for perfection.”

The Judaica Sound Archives is proud of its role in the preservation of Jewish culture. We believe that by bringing the unique qualities of early 20th century European liturgical music into the present we contribute to its survival into the future.

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L’dor vador: From generation to generation

By , August 14, 2013 3:28 pm

One family’s ancestor remembered…a shared culture preserved.

The music of the traditional synagogue in America has strong roots in the culture and shtetls of 19th and early 20th century Eastern Europe. Like many of the greats of the Golden Era of Hazzanut Cantor Gedalie Bargad was a gifted hazzan who grew out of the chassidic environment.

Born in 1898 on Kol Nidre evening in the small town of Slavuta (Volhynia Province, Russia), his promising career as a cantor was disrupted by war, civil strife and his family’s struggle for survival. Eventually Bargad and his bride were able obtain travel documents and arrived in Boston on May 25, 1921.

He found work in the shul in Lynn, MA almost immediately, and by 1926 he was officiating at the Elm Street Synagogue in Chelsea, MA. where he sang until 1963. His son, Dr. Warren Bargad, former director of the Center for Jewish Studies, University of Florida – Gainesville, reminisced about those days. “As a youth I remember the shul packed with people – about 500 – 600. . . My father was a commanding presence on the bima. When he sang he would often send shockwaves through the eardrums of the choirboys who stood near him. . . There was a bit of the actor in him. . . [but] he was also down-to-earth, a great story-teller, and often quite comic (album liner notes, 1980).”

Cantor Bargad went on to serve at Temple Emanuel in Chelsea, MA until his death in 1968. His grandson, Robert Bargad (Professor of Jazz piano at Karntnerlandeskonservatorium in Austria) remembers his grandfather “leading the congregation in the singing of prayers with very beautiful melodies, many of which he himself had composed and arranged.  I recall how sometimes his voice would suddenly swell and sustain such a great and mournful note, causing the entire congregation to wait for his release before continuing. . .  In those moments I was completely overcome and I remember thinking that the walls of the temple were shaking from the emotional power of his voice and the pure magic in his performance. I believe the impact of Gedalie’s singing has influenced me to this day – as I try to infuse my own compositions and performances with that kind of tradition and soulfulness.” (Personal communication, 2013).”

A recording of the September 23, 1962 service at the Elm Street Synagogue was preserved and then meticulously restored by Chicago record producer, Barry Serota in 1980. The Judaica Sound Archives at FAU Libraries is proud to follow in the footsteps of Barry Serota who devoted his life to the preservation of great Cantorial music. Streaming audio of this album is available only on our website.

 

Robert Bargad

RSA Guest Blogger, Robert Bargad, is a Professor of Jazz Piano at Karntner Landeskonservatorium in Austria, he is the grandson of Cantor Gedalie Bargad. 

Cantor Stephen Texon

By , July 29, 2013 10:22 am

Equally at home on the opera stage and in the synagogue, Stephen Texon’s successful and distinguished singing career spans decades.

The Judaica Sound Archives is delighted to add the voice of Cantor Stephen Texon to its distinguished online collection of Cantorial and operatic recordings. A native New Yorker, Texon studied at Yeshiva University and NYU. His rich baritone voice was a natural for the opera stage and he was inspired to pursue operatic training in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Met in NYC.

Growing up during the heyday of the Catskill Mountain resorts, Texon was chosen by Sholem Secunda (legendary Yiddish theater composer and conductor) to be the baritone soloist in his choir at the Concord Hotel.

His operatic talents allowed him to perform on stage with such stars as Richard Tucker, Robert Merrill, Placido Domingo and Jerome Hines. But it was the experience of actually performing in a full dress rehearsal performance of “La Traviata” as the understudy for Robert Merrill that remains both a personal and professional highlight for Stephen Texon.

Click here to listen to the music of Stephen Texon.

Molly Picon

By , May 20, 2013 2:38 pm

Defying expectations, changing the rules, and making us laugh.

The Judaica Sound Archives at FAU Libraries honors the work and life of Molly Picon. Compiling 58 of her earliest songs produced on 78 rpm records and four of her LP albums produced later in her career, the JSA invites you to revisit the talents of a truly great Jewish female icon.

Who was Molly Picon?

She was an actress, singer, and comedian whose career spanned over 70 years. Debuting in the Yiddish Theater at the age of 6 she emerged as a respected American actress, performing in Come Blow Your Horn (1963) with Frank Sinatra, and having starring roles on Broadway in Milk & Honey (1961) and  film, Fiddler on the Roof (1971).

Molly Picon’s career followed Yiddish culture from the shtetl into mainstream America. Small and very youthful-looking she often had to fight to be taken seriously. She wore male clothing as a disguise through most of her breakout performance in Yidl Mit’n Fidl (1936) and many of her other early roles, including the well-known “Yankele.” In today’s world she might be considered to be a voice for women’s rights.

Click here for Molly’s LP albums.

Click here for Molly’s 78 rpm recordings.

Click here to see film clip of a very young Molly Picon singing the title song from Yid’l Mit’n Fidl.

Mischa Elman

By , April 19, 2013 8:43 am

Six new Mischa Elman compilations from the Recorded Sound Archives at FAU Libraries

The Judaica Sound Archives at FAU Libraries has created six digitized compilations from 77 original 78 rpm recordings of world famous Jewish violinist, Mischa Elman.

All these recordings were originally produced between 1906 and 1921.

Click here for Mischa Elman’s biographical notes.

Click here to hear Mischa Elman’s digitized recordings at the Judaica Sound Archives.

Click here to see a  video of Mischa Elman playing Humoresque.

This film short, produced in 1926 by Vitaphone Sound Pictures, demonstrated a new technology  as innovative and exciting in its day as the first i-phone.  A year later the first feature-length talking motion picture, “The Jazz Singer,” put an end to silent movies.

 

A Sing-along Passover from the Judaica Sound Archives

By , March 11, 2013 3:38 pm

Ma Nishtana (מה נשתנה‎) is also known as The Four Questions.

Recited by the youngest child at the table it evokes our own childhood experience and the pride we felt participating in the family seder.

Sung by Fran Avni’s Singing Children’s Chorus

Mah nishtanah, ha-laylah ha-zeh,mi-kol ha-leylot?

She-b’khol ha-leylot ‘anu ‘okhlin chameytz u-matzah, ha-laylah ha-zeh, kulo matzah?

She-b’khol ha-leylot ‘anu ‘okhlin sh’ar y’raqot, ha-laylah ha-zeh, maror?

She-b’khol ha-leylot ‘eyn ‘anumatbilin ‘afilu pa`am ‘achat, ha-laylah ha-zeh, shtey fe`amim?

She-b’khol ha-leylot ‘anu ‘okhlin beyn yoshvin u-veyn m’subin, ha-laylah ha-zeh, kulanu m’subin?

 

Dayenu (דַּיֵּנוּ) is a song of gratitude for all the gifts that God has given us.

It is more than a thousand years old.

Sung by Chaim Parchi

Ilu ilu hotzianu hotzianu mimitzrayim, v’lo asah bahem sh’fatim, dayeinu!

Ilu ilu asah  bahem , asah bahem sh’fatim v’lo asah be’eloheihem, dayeinu!

Di-di-yeinu! Di-di- yeinu! Di-di-yeinu! Dayeinu, dayeinu, dayeinu!

Di-di-yeinu! Di-di-yeinu! Di-di-yeinu! Dayeinu, dayeinu!

 

Adir Hu (אדיר הוּא) “Mighty is He” is a hymn traditionally sung towards the end of the Seder.

Performed by Safam, music by Shlomo Carlebach

Adir hy yivneh beito Yivneh beito beito b’karov

El b’nei, el b’nei, b’nei beitcha b’karov,

Bimhera bimhera bimhera b’karov.

 

 

 

 

Chad Gadya (גדי אחד) “One Little Goat” is a playful song popular with the children.

It is sung at the end of the seder.

Sung by Ralph Levitan

Chad gadya, chad gadya. Chad gadya, chad gadya,

Dizabin abah dizabin abah dizabin abah bitrei zuzei.

Chad gadya, chad gadya.

Ve-ata shunra ve-akhlah le-gadya,

Dizabin abba bitrei zuzei.

Chad gadya, chad gadya, ve-ata kalba ve-nashakh le-shunra, de-akhlah le-gadya.

 

Echad Mi Yodea (אחד מי יודע) is a cumulative song meaning that each verse is built upon the previous one.

There are thirteen verses in all.

Sung by Deborah Katchko-Gray

Sung by Deborah Katchko-Gray

English Translation:

Who knows one?

I know one.

One is our God, in heaven and on earth.

Who knows two?

I know two.

Two are the tablets of the covenant;

One is our God, in heaven and on earth……..

Who knows thirteen?

I know thirteen.

Thirteen are the temperaments of God;

Twelve are the tribes of Israel;

Eleven are the stars of Joseph‘s dream;

Ten are the [Ten] Commandments;

Nine are the months of pregnancy;

Eight are the days of circumcision;

Seven are the days of the week;

Six are the books of the Mishnah;

Five are the books of the Torah;

Four are the Matriarchs;

Three are the Patriarchs;

Two are the tablets of the covenant;

One is our God, in heaven and on earth.


JSA Featured Performer: Cantor Dale Lind

By , February 7, 2013 12:34 pm

For five generations, the Lind Family, descended from Belzer Hassidim in Galicia, sang the songs of the synagogue. It was from this lineage that Joshua Lind (1890—1973) rose to prominence as a composer, cantor and teacher. Joining his father’s synagogue choir at the age of 5, young David Lind quickly became a Cantorial wunderkind touring the country and recording for RCA Victor.

Together with his brothers, Murray and Phil, David formed the Lind Brothers Trio in 1937. They became quite popular performing a repertoire especially created for them by their father, Cantor Joshua Lind.

The Trio not only had great success in the pulpit, they also became well-known popular entertainers, appearing in night clubs, on the radio, on TV, and in films (Universal International Pictures).

During WWII David and his brothers entertained troops and shared the stage with such stars as Danny Kaye and Betty Hutton. Following the war they headlined in Las Vegas, Hollywood, and on Broadway.

Dale eventually returned to Chicago to pursue a career as a solo performer and cantor, officiating at the Congregation Sons of Joshua since 1974.

Click to hear Cantor Lind’s recordings.

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