The idea for this gathering of songs and musicians was born originally almost a decade ago, and is yet another example of how the Universe unfolds and weaves its own mysterious and beautiful tapestry. Back then, I had been thinking about some of the old songs I remember hearing and singing as a young boy in our synagogue in West Miami, Florida. Revisiting those melodies also spurred the memory of the wordless incantations of the old men who would gather each afternoon in a neighborhood storefront Schule, bow, and chant prayers that bade farewell to the day and welcomed the night.
Around the time that these sounds came back into my consciousness, I had been listening to a lot of John Coltrane’s middle- and late-period music. One day, as I had immersed myself in Coltrane’s amazing Village Vanguard recording of “Spiritual,” the awakening happened. There seemed to be a startling similarity between the hypnotic Hebrew song “Avinu Malkeinu,” and the trancelike droning of the bass and the bass clarinet that serves as the introduction to ‘Trane’s stately and somber melody. As a result, I listened to other Hebrew hymns, and other Coltrane songs, particularly parts of ‘Trane’s masterwork, “A Love Supreme.” Likewise, “Alabama,” “Om,” and “To Be” became entangled with “Shalom Alechim” and “Adon Olam.” The water grew delightfully murky. What happened in the studio on those two days was pure magic.