Friday, September 28, 2007

Putumayo Presents – Israel

I am extremely impressed. A compilation named Israel could go wrong on so many levels – think about it. This one doesn’t. While not the high-energy dance music that Putumayo often compiles, this is still dance music. And while one would expect many traditional sounds from Israel, Putumayo wisely chose to include that only as relevant to 2007.

If you look at Israel on a map, it is a hinge on the Mediterranean between Africa and Europe, with lots and lots of Mediterranean sea splashing up on its shoreline. Even though I have never personally been to Israel, I would expect its popular music to reflect all these truths, not the Hollywood flavors one usually hears when the term Israel pops up in entertainment circles in the US.

So we are filled with the ear-pleasuring flavors of Persia, Africa, Turkey, Europe, a bit of Jazz from the US, even some pleasurable tastes from Brazil and Jamaica. Israel is, after all, a modern nation that invites visitors from all over the world, and thus is influenced by flavors from all over. And, in good, pluralistic (in the good sense) fashion, there is music represented by folks who are Muslim, Christian, Jewish and undeclared. Not enough? How about the regions? Yep, music from Palestine, Tel Aviv, Galilee, Jerusalem, and more. If there’s any prejudice to be seen it’s in the fact that everyone is welcome as being completely human and relevant. How often can you feel this truth when your daily exposure to Israel is only the “news”? (”News” = only that which media outlets want us to know.)

You’ll notice I am not choosing a favorite cut. That’s easily explained – every cut on this album stands out and is filled with flavors I cherish. I was only familiar with two of the artists on this compilation before, but I now have many new artists to seek out and learn to know better: Etti Ankri, Itay Pearl, Hadas Dagul, Rona Kenan, Mosh Ben Ari, Moshav Band, Zafa, Sheva, David Broza, Tea Packs, Amal Murkus, The Idan Raichel Project. The diverse nature of this music is lovingly held together by one common theme – excellence. A wonderful evening of joyful movement is in store when this cd hits the laser. Deeply delicious.

Shoutouts for Tea Packs (Vehap'am Shir Ahava), Amal Murkus (Ta'alu), Hadas Dagul (Seret Eelem), Rona Kenan with Gidi Gov (Ha'rikud Ha'muzar Shel Ha'lev), and The Idan Raichel Project (Mi' Ma'amakim).

Putumayo Presents – Israel