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MP3 Harris Shilakowsky - Eklektrex SSQVO Celebration of Jewish Spirit

Burning the fiddle, singing & fantasizing about peace and homeland, lovin’ & partyin’ accompanied by the hip hoppin’, rockin’, funkin’ virtual Eklektrex SSQVO in his arrangements of Jewish traditional tunes like Havah Nagilah.

8 MP3 Songs
POP: with Electronic Production, WORLD: Judaica

Eklektrex SSQVO
Celebration of Jewish Spirit
This CD represents who I have become. I started at age 5 studying piano with my mom, Rina Shiller. Then around age 9 I started violin. I studied with various teachers including Leo Panasevich of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. We all grew up listening to rock and roll and jazz, blues and r&b and the little bit of country that leaked thru the airwaves. In junior high school I started playing an electronic organ, occasionally performing with rock/pop groups for dances and such and jamming with a blues guitarist named Dean. In Israel, where I finished high school after we decided to immigrate there, I played violin in a group called the Middle East Blues Band. Returning to the US, where I figured I’d have more job opportunities, I attended New England Conservatory, studying violin with Ms. Nancy Cirillo, playing in Gunther Schuller’s symphony orchestra and playing all kinds of music from Baroque to contemporary, jamming on violin in a jazz band with Jim Riley in Roxbury on weekends. I continued to Yale for my graduate work in music and then got a job in the Buffalo Philharmonic, the first of numerous orchestra positions.

All along the way, I hoped to somehow incorporate my different musical selves into one integrated musical human being, but only with this project am I finally realizing my serious, fun-loving self, combining my ethnic/religious background…songs from Israel and summer camps…some for music, some Jewish camps…my love of all kinds of music…space music, electronics, rock, hip hop, jazz, blues, classical, or as my professors insisted we call it, Euro-traditional, Jewish music and the musics of all the peoples of the world.

oh, and I’m singing here! Sang in choruses, barber shop quartets and a little in groups…but now, well, Havah Nagilah does have words, doesn’t it? And I do know them!

A little about the tunes and how I orchestrated them;
I started a few years back arranging Jewish songs for my string quartet to perform at weddings, since I found that there weren’t enough good arrangements of these tunes. I since have performed them and self-published them on my website for other musicians. Most of these arrangements were for string quartet. They have become the core of the arrangements for the Eklektrex band to perform. If you listen to the quartet, you’ll hear how the arrangements match up with the Eklektrex versions.

Hevenu Shalom

This is a fantasy about peace. Bring us peace is our shout. It starts out with the rock organ and violin improvising in the ‘Jewish mode’, then the fretless electric bass and hip hop drums join the fun. Memories of my high school years in Israel playing with the Middle East Blues Band and jamming with jazz guitarist, Steve Grossman...Some funked out drummers and hip hop bandits get on board and in the end …well… we tried.


Thanks to Debbie Friedman, for helping to wake the Love of God in me and for providing the inspired song, Hashkiveinu. From a beautiful prayer from the Shabbat Evening Luturgy.

Debbie wrote the song for a bar mitzvah of her own relative, then I had a request from Robert Kieval, who commissioned the arrangement for her daughter Natasha Elena Kieval to perform on the eve of her Bat-Mitzvah.

The bar/bat mitzvah is a ceremony to celebrate the achievement of becoming a Jewish adult.

Havah Nagilah
This is a ‘Sadigura Nigun’.

Let us rejoice and be happy
Awaken brother and sisters with a happy heart.
In my version, it’s a rock beat joined occasionally by some hip hop sounds with the melodies in the violin and lunar strings and jazz organ accompanied by a clean electric (eklektrek) guitar, rhythm driven by a nice deep round bass and sung by me (in Hebrew) and my friend, Chava.

The way I heard it in my head, this old Russian lullaby where the boy sings, then the girl sings together with him…they had to hear the echoes in their ears of the ancient middle eastern ceramic drum through the swirling mists of time, represented by the lunar strings. The incessant bass line played by the swirling droplets.(sung by Shilakowsky in Yiddish)

Chosen Kale Mazel Tov
Everybody must have this song played at their Jewish wedding. For good luck to the bride and groom.

Hatikvah, the Jewish National Anthem
Should need no explanation. Our heart-felt hope to be safe in our own land, with our beloved Jerusalem where the great Temple was built by Solomon, destroyed, then built again, then destroyed again…Oy. Will we ever get it right?

An instrumental meditation based on the Tumbalalalaika (boy is that hard to type).

Siman Tov und Mazel Tov
I play this as the recessional music as the newly weds run back down the aisle after kissing, sharing rings, circling and praying the Sheva B’rachot and then smashing the glass. Another must have for every Jewish Simchah. Listen and enjoy as I did playing and recording it. Dig the Hip Hop Crate Digger in this Dance mix.

Lyrics & translations for songs that are sung on this CD are available on my website.

Harris Shilakowsky
Thursday, November 9, 2006
1:41 PM

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