a la una (in the beginning)
An fine and promising debut release by a young American singer exploring Sephardic music in the modern world. a la una ranges from traditional folk forms to jazz, rock and many of the -hyphens in-between.
She is ably supported by a fine band:
Yoel Ben-Simhon (musical director, piano, oud, acoustic guitar, back-up vocals).
Hicham Chami (qanun)
Alan Cohen (electric guitar)
Benny Koonyevsky (drums, percussion)
Emmanuel Mann (fretless electric bass)
Carlos Revoller (classical guitar)
Yousef Sheronick (percussion)
Bridget Robbins (ney)
You should also investigate:
Consuelo Luz - Dezeo
Barahunda - Al sol de la hierba
Ruth Yaakov Ensemble - Shaatnez - Sephardic Songs of the Balkans
Various Artists - The Hidden Gate - Jewish Music Around the World
Search for more Sephardic music
"This is a very special album. It rocks. But the album is also true to tradition in ways that many traditional albums are not. It has, in fact, been a favorite with everyone in the house for the weeks since I got it. Aroeste's voice is a revelation. I look forward to her next release, or even better, seeing her perform live." - Ari Davidow, The Klezmer Shack
" While conservative critics may bristle at what they hear as unorthodox updates, Aroeste [is] taking ownership of her history in the way that makes the most sense to her." - Jewish Week, NYC
What the artist has to say about her work:
Sarah Aroeste is best known for her funky fusion of Spanish, Mediterranean and American musical styles. Inspired by her family's cultural heritage--orginally from Spain and later settling in Salonika, Greece-- the Aroeste sound combines and updates aspects from her unique family background.
Most influenced by the music and language of her Spanish roots, Aroeste grounds her music in Ladino, or castillian Spanish, the language originated by Spanish Jews after their expulsion from Spain in 1492. This medieval form of Spanish was carried by Spanish Jews to the various points where they later settled, primarily along the Mediterranean coast and North Africa. In time, ladino came to absorb bits and pieces of languages all along the Mediterranean coast, including Greek, Turkish, Portuguese, French, Italian and Hebrew.
This sexy pan-Mediterranean language has, unfortunately, faded away and is hardly spoken anymore. But the musical legacy of Spanish Jews highlights the strength of an oral tradition that spans many centuries and unites a linguistic group. Until WWII the vibrant Spanish Jewish communities, particularly throughout the Mediterranean, had been able to perpetuate a significant Hispanic influence throughout the region. Following the War, Mediterranean Jews emigrated in large numbers to the U.S and Latin America, where their proud communities continue to retain a link, in many ways through music, with their medieval hispanic past.
American born, Aroeste has decided to revive this rich body of music by combining it with more contemporary musical influences. Encouraged by an influx of Latin-based music in America over the past few years, Aroeste hopes to make Mediterranean music more recognized and accessible as well. Her family's original Spanish-Greek name, Aroeste, or "of the West," truly reflects her style of music by combining traditional Mediterranean sounds with very contemporary American rock and blues. Using traditional instruments such as oud and dumbek, along with heavy electric guitar and a strong American rock and blues sound, Sarah Aroeste seeks to fuse together the various aspects that reflect her identity. Her sets include contemporary takes on traditional Mediterranean ladino songs, as well as original songs written in English, set to Spanish Mediterranean backgrounds.
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