From the Desk Of: Eugene Marlow
What Is Jewish Music?

CantorMarlowsphere Blog (#144)

What is Jewish music? At its essence, Jewish music, like music of any identified culture, reflects Jewish values and experiences.

For example, an obvious, partial answer to the question “What is Jewish music?” is music of the synagogue, the schul: cantorial music, liturgical music, and cantillation. Melodies such as “Halleluyah,” “Heine Ma Tov,” “V’Taher Lebeinu,” “Yis Ma Chu,” “L’Cha Dodi,” “Avinu Malkeinu,” and “Kol Nidre.”

Then there are melodies sung and played at various Jewish celebrations—Chanukah, Passover, and Purim—in the synagogue and in Jewish homes, such as “Moaz Tsur,” “Chanukah, O, Chanukah,” “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel,” “Sevivon,” “Mishenichnas Adar Marbim Be-Simecha,” “Layehudim Haitah Orah Ve-Simechah, Ve-Sasson, Ve-Yakar,” “Adon Olam,” “Mah Nishtanah Halaylah Haze,” and “Eliyahu Hanavi.”

And there are countless folk melodies, for example “Ata Hu Hashem,” “Lahadam,” and “Erev Shel Shoshanim.” This catalog of Jewish music must also include Israel’s national anthem “Hatikva” and the most covered Jewish melody of all “Hava Nagila.”

There is also Klezmer: a musical tradition of the Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe. Played by professional musicians called klezmorim in ensembles known as kapelye, the Klezmer Musicgenre originally consisted largely of dance tunes and instrumental display pieces for weddings and other celebrations. In the United States the genre evolved considerably as Yiddish-speaking Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, who arrived between 1880 and 1924, came into contact with American jazz.

And there is nigunim: A nigun (singular of nigunim) (Hebrew: meaning “tune” or “melody”) is a form of Jewish religious song or tune sung by groups. It is vocal music, often with repetitive sounds such as “Bim-Bim-Bam”, “Lai-Lai-Lai”, “Yai-Yai-Yai” or “” Ai-Ai-Ai” instead of formal lyrics. Nigunim are especially central to worship in Hasidic Judaism.

In the 20th and 21st centuries the advent of Jewish music and music based on Jewish culture and themes extended beyond the synagogue and Jewish home, as in Broadway musicals, such as:

Fiddler on the RoofAmerike—The Golden Land (1982), Cabaret (1966), Falsettos (1992), Fiddler on the Roof (1964), I Can Get It For You Wholesale (1962), Milk and Honey (1961), Ragtime (1998), The Immigrant (2004), The People in the Picture (2011), The Zulu and the Zayda (1965), and War Paint (2017).

Films with Jewish “sounding” music and Jewish culture and themes are just as numerous, and include most famously “The Jazz Singer” (1927), “The 10 Commandments” (1956), “Ben Hur” (1959),  “Exodus” (1960), “Funny Girl” (1968), “Oliver” (1968), “Fiddler on the Roof” (1968), “Yentl” (1983), “Schindler’s List” (1993), “Eight Crazy Nights” (2002), “Munich” (2005), and “Defiance” (2008).

In the genre of jazz, the inventory of “jazz Jews” inspired British author and radio show host Mike Gerber to pen a 656-page volume titled Jazz Jews (published in 2009). Some of these Jews wrote a treasure trove of Yiddish music that found its way into the popular culture, such as Sholem Secunda’s “Bay mir bistu sheyn”

The list of Jewish composers and performers who contributed to the “Great American Songbook” is very long and includes such notables as Aaron Copland, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein, Neil Sedaka, Carole King, and Bob Dylan. Berlin, who wrote close to 2,000 Neil Sedakatunes, famously wrote the most popular Christmas song ever, “I’m Dreaming of A White Christmas.” And Neil Sedaka, who wrote, among many others songs, “Stairway to Heaven” and “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do,” is aptly named. In Hebrew Sedaka means “righteousness” or more popularly “charity.”

Clearly, while Jewish music has its origins in religious observance in the schul and in the Jewish home and is a significant cultural glue that bounds the Jewish community in the diaspora, Jewish music as a reflection of Jewish culture and themes has spread globally thanks to information, communications, and transportation technologies in the 20th and 21st centuries..

So, what then is Jewish music in contemporaneous terms? Is it strictly the music of the synagogue, Jewish melodies sung in the home, or Israeli folksongs, et al? In the context of globalism these definitions, while correct, are too constrained. Can we not define Jewish music as music based on Jewish sounds, culture, and themes?

A.Z. Idelsohn We must now also define Jewish music in the current cultural context, which is: no culture is pure; all cultures are a mixture. And it has been this way for thousands of years. Cultures are influenced by other cultures. No less than the father of Jewish musicology A.Z. Idelsohn in his seminal work Jewish Music in Its Historical Development (1929) in the very first sentence of Chapter I “The Song of the Synagogue,” states: “In surveying the development of music in ancient Israel it is essential to consider the music of Israel’s ancient neighbors.” In other words, no culture, let alone musical culture stands alone. Outside influences have an impact.

For the Jews in the diaspora and even now in Israel, outside musical cultures must be taken into account. And the cultural flow goes both ways. Earlier I referenced “Hava Nagila,” the most covered Jewish melody ever. Quite apart from Harry Belafonte’s rendition, Machito, one of the progenitors of Latin-jazz in New York City, also covered this same melody. On a 1951 recording he called the tune “Mambo Holiday.” My own Heritage Ensemble Quintet has taken two dozen Hebraic melodies and morphed them into arrangements using various jazz, Afro-Caribbean, Brazilian, and classical genres.

All in all, Jewish music—while born in religious observance—has clearly evolved and incorporated the cultural diaspora into its musical catalog.

© Eugene Marlow 2019

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2019 Upcoming Events
2019
January The New York City Jazz Record includes Dr. Eugene Marlow’s 12th published book Jazz in China: From Dance Hall Music to Individual Freedom of Expression (University Press of Mississippi 2018) as one of the “Five Best Jazz Books of 2018.”
January 18 Performance: Bobby Sanabria’s Grammy-nominated “Multiverse” Big Band performs Eugene Marlow’s bembé arrangement of “Maria” as part of the ensemble’s 2018 Latin-Jazz Grammy nominated “West Side Story Reimagined” set at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The album is available on the Jazzheads label (2018).
January 28 Dr. Eugene Marlow begins his 62nd semester teaching at courses in media and culture at Baruch College (City University of New York). This semester he is teaching an honors class entitled “Jazz: Cultural Touchstone of the 20th Century.”
January 30 Dr. Marlow begins his third semester hosting “Jazz: America’s Classical Music” on Radio WBMB-FM (Baruch College Radio), every Wednesday from 4:30-5:30 p.m. The show’s signature tune is “Taylored for Billy,” an original composition by Dr. Marlow recorded by The Michael Abene Quintet on “A Summer Afternoon with You” album (MEII Enterprises 2005).
February 2-8 Radio Play/Book Interview: Dr. Eugene Marlow is interviewed about his Jazz in China book by renowned stride pianist/singer/author Judy Carmichael on NPR’s “Judy Carmichael’s Jazz Inspired.” The hour-long show can be heard on Sirius/XM (Channel 122) and over 170 NPR radio stations around the United States. http://www.jazzinspired.com/browse-shows/eugene-marlow?rq=eugene%20marlow.
February 10 Grammy winners announced. Bobby Sanabria’s “West Side Story Reimagined” has been nominated in the Latin Jazz Category. Eugene Marlow contributed a bembé arrangement of “Maria” from the famed Broadway show to the double album released in July 2018 on the JazzHeads label.
February 12 Performance: Four of Dr. Marlow’s classical compositions–“Three Fugues and A Bolero”–performed by renowned organist Claudia Dumschat at the Little Church Around The Corner, 1 East 29th Street, New York City, as part of a concert of original music for organ mounted by the New York Composers Circle. 7:30 p.m. Suggested contribution: $20.
February 14 Performance: Eugene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble performs at the Horace Mann School (Riverdale, Bronx) as part of the school’s Music Week.
February 14 CD Digital Release: “When She Returns” The ArcoIris Sandoval Trio Performs the Romantic Music of Eugene Marlow (Valentine’s Day). https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/arcoirissandoval2
February 23 Composer/Arranger Dr. Eugene Marlow attends the Dance/NYC Conference at Hunter College (New York City). Marlow has composed and arranged music for numerous dance companies.
March 1 AWARD: MEII Enterprises forthcoming album “Blue In Green” receives a Silver Medal Award for Outstanding Achievement from the Global Music Awards. 
March 10 CD Digital Release: “Aspetta Ancora Qualque Minuti” (Wait A Few More Minutes) performed by the Italian ensemble “Trio Namaste.” In the United States March 10 is Daylight Savings Time. There are some people in some places who would prefer to leave well enough alone, hence the single track title.
March 25 Composer/arranger/producer Eugene Marlow participates in the Choreographer/Composer Exchange organized by Periapsis and hosted by the New York University Tisch Department of Dance. 
March 29 Radio Play: Bobby Sanabria, host of WBGO’s “The Latin Jazz Cruise,” spins Eugene Marlow’s Latinized arrangement of “Hatikva” from his 2011 “Fresh Take” album (MEII Enterprises). Recorded by Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble. WBGO is the most listened to jazz radio station in the world.
March 31 Radio Play: Pianist Nada, host of “The Classical Hour” on WCHQ 100.9 FM, spins selections from Eugene Marlow’s forthcoming “Blue In Green” album (MEII Enterprises). The album includes 10 original jazz compositions inspired by the jazz poems of renowned poet Grace Schulman. 
April 1 Publication: Dr. Eugene Marlow is invited to contribute a major article on “Jazz in China” to the Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World.
April 10 MEII Enterprises CD Digital Release: In Their Own Voice, Vol. VIII: “Lullaby” (for Madeline).
April 16 Award Nomination: Dr. Eugene Marlow’s book Jazz in China (August 2018) nominated by the Jazz Journalists Association for its annual “Best Jazz Book 2018 ” award. 
April 27 Talk: Dr. Eugene Marlow invited to give a talk on MEII Enterprises’ forthcoming 20-track album “Blue In Green: Original Compositions by Eugene Marlow Inspired by the Jazz Poems of Grace Schulman” at the First Upsurge!NYC JazzPoetry Festival. 3-6 p.m., the National Writers Union, 256 West 38th Street, New York City.
April 30 Performance: Bobby Sanabria’s Grammy-nominated “Multiverse” Big Band performs Eugene Marlow’s bembé arrangement of “Maria” as part of the ensemble’s 2018 Latin-Jazz Grammy nominated “West Side Story Reimagined” set at the Robert Frederick Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park, 679 Riverside Drive @ West 145th Street. Noon-1-30 p.m.. The album is available on the Jazzheads label (2018).
April 30  MEII Enterprises CD Release: “Blue In Green: Original Compositions by Eugene Marlow Inspired by the Jazz Poems of Grace Schulman,” a 20-track album consisting of 10 jazz poems by 2016 Robert Frost awardee Grace Schulman and 10 original compositions by Eugene Marlow performed by 18 various jazz artists, including members of Eugene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble.
May 1 AWARD: Bobby Sanabria’s “West Side Story Reimagined” (Jazzheads 2018) voted “2018 Record of the Year” by the Jazz Journalists Association. Eugene Marlow’s bembe arrangement of “Maria” kicks off the 2nd CD of the two-CD set.  
May 15 Performance: The Heritage Ensemble (duo) performs for the Baruch College Students Awards Ceremony Reception.
May 17 Radio Play: Bobby Sanabria, host of WBGO’s “The Latin Jazz Cruise,” spins Eugene Marlow’s original composition “Enigma” from his “Obrigado Brasil” album (MEII Enterprises 2016). Recorded by Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble. WBGO is the most listened to jazz radio station in the world.
May 24 Radio Play: Bobby Sanabria, host of WBGO’s “The Latin Jazz Cruise,” spins “Carnaval a Sanabria”  from Eugene Marlow’s “Obrigado Brasil” album (MEII Enterprises 2016). Recorded by Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble. 
May 27 CD Digital Release: “Resolution” an original piece for big band in honor of Memorial Day. Available at www.cdbaby.com/artist/eugenemarlow.
May 30 Talk: Dr. Eugene Marlow gives a talk entitled “Jazz in China: The Book, The Documentary, The Author’s Journey” at the Pitkin County Library, Aspen, Colorado. Doors open at 6 p.m.
May 31 Radio Play: Bobby Sanabria, host of WBGO’s “Latin Cruise” spins “El Ache de Sanabria (en moderacion)” Eugene Marlow’s big band tribute to Maestro Sanabria. The track appears on the Grammy-nominated “Big Band Urban Folktales,” (Jazzheads 2007) featuring Sanabria’s Multiverse Big Band. WBGO is the most listened to jazz radio station in the world.
June 1 Publication: International Piano publishes MEII Enterprises artist Pianist Nada’s article on “Brahmsian Piano Technique.” 
June 1 Recording: Eugene Marlow’s “Fugues in D Major and F Major” appear on pianist Natalie Synhaivsky’s album “American Preludes and Fugues” (Zorno label).
June 2 Performance: Bobby Sanabria’s Grammy-nominated “Multiverse” Big Band performs Eugene Marlow’s bembé arrangement of “Maria” as part of the ensemble’s 2018 Latin-Jazz Grammy nominated/2019 Jazz Journalists Association “Record of the Year” “West Side Story Reimagined” set at 52 Park at Kelly Street and Avenue St. John in the Bronx, New York City. The renowned Danza Fiesta dance company will be featured during the performance with special choreography. This performance of “West Side Story Reimagined” is also in celebration of Maestro Sanabria’s 62nd birthday. The album is available on the Jazzheads label (2018). The performance starts at 4 p.m.
June 6 “Blue In Green: Original Compositions by Eugene Marlow Inspired by the Jazz Poems of Grace Schulman” selected to be part of the National Audio Theatre Festivals Playhouse’s 2019 PODCAST PALOOZA at the 2019 HEAR Now Festival. The Festival’s podcast pages opens the day of the Festival, June 6, 2019, and runs through August 1, 2019.
June 7 Radio Play: Bobby Sanabria, host of WBGO’s “Latin Cruise” spins “El Ache de Sanabria (en moderacion)” Eugene Marlow’s big band tribute to Maestro Sanabria. The track appears on the Grammy-nominated “Big Band Urban Folktales,” (Jazzheads 2007) featuring Sanabria’s Multiverse Big Band. WBGO is the most listened to jazz radio station in the world.
June 9  CD Digital Release: MEII Enterprises releases “The Afro-Caribbean Rhythmic Artistry of Bobby Sanabria and Matthew Gonzalez” in honor of National Puerto Rico Day Parade in New York City.
June 10-24 Dr. Eugene Marlow attends the 2nd Annual Mostly Modern Festival at Skidmore College (Saratoga Springs) as a Composer Fellow for the second year in a row. 
June 14 Talk: Dr. Eugene Marlow describes how he morphed “Maria” from the iconic Broadway show “West Side Story” into a West-African bembe arrangement for the 2018 “Record of the Year” (Jazz Journalists Association) “West Side Story Reimagined” (Jazzheads 2018) at the 2nd annual Mostly Modern Festival, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs.
June 19 Talk: Dr. Eugene Marlow gives a talk on “Why Knowing What Your Net Worth Is Can Enhance Your Music Career” at the 2nd Annual Mostly Modern Festival at Skidmore College (Saratoga Springs, New York). 2:30-4 p.m.
June 21 Talk: Dr. Eugene Marlow describes the decision and result of composing “Zikkaron/Kristallnacht” for an album and then visualizing it for a nine-minute documentary. 2nd Annual Mostly Modern Festival, Skidmore College (Saratoga Springs, New York).
June 21 Performance/Premiere: The American Modern Ensemble (AME) premieres Eugene Marlow’s “Quirky”–a piece for violin, flute, clarinet, piano, marimba, and percussion–at the 2nd Annual Mostly Modern Festival, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York. 7:30.
June 27-30 Dr. Marlow attends the 20th Annual Media Ecology Association Conference–“Media Ethics: Media Ecology in a Connected World”–in Toronto, Canada. 
June 28 Talk: Dr. Marlow gives talk on “Technology, Jazz, and Freedom of Expression in China” at the 20th Annual Media Ecology Association Conference, Toronto, Canada.
June 30 CD Digital Release: MEII Enterprises artist Pianist Nada releases a reading–with numerous piano performance examples–of her “Brahmsian Piano Technique” essay (published in International Piano). Go to www.cdbaby.com/artist/nada. 
July 5 Radio Play: Bobby Sanabria, host of WBGO’s “The Latin Jazz Cruise,” spins Eugene Marlow’s Latinized arrangement of “Hatikva,” the Israeli national anthem, from his 2011 “Fresh Take” album (MEII Enterprises). Recorded by Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble. WBGO is the most listened to jazz radio station in the world.
July 7 Composition: Dr. Eugene Marlow completes work on a 20-minute, seven piece suite for woodwind quintet entitled “Colors.”
July 12 Performance: The Heritage Ensemble (trio) provides live music for the Zicklin School of Business Executive MBA Program Graduation reception at the Pierre Hotel (New York City).
August 26 Dr. Eugene Marlow begins his 63rd semester teaching courses in media and culture at Baruch College (City University of New York).
September 2  CD Digital Release: “The Caverns at Carlsbad”: nine miniatures for trombone quartet.
September 4 Eugene Marlow begins his fourth semester hosting “Jazz: America’s Classical Music,” a one-hour weekly program on WBMB-FM (Baruch College Radio).
September 5 Dr. Eugene Marlow attends the annual awards ceremony of the MA Program in Arts Administration, Baruch College (City University of New York). At this event the annual Marlow Prize in Arts Administration is presented. The annual “consultancy paper” prize of $500 is funded by Dr. Marlow.  
September 12 Performance/Private Event: Eugene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble provides music for an event in honor of Department of English (Baruch College, New York City) Professor Saundra Townes who passed away suddenly in spring 2019. Professor Townes loved jazz.
October 5 Performance: Eugene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble performs for the fifth year in a row for the Filomen M. D’Agostino Greenberg Music School currently located at the 92nd Street Y.
October 24 Talk: The Departments of English and Journalism at Baruch College celebrate the collaboration between award-winning poet Dr. Grace Schulman (English) and eclectic award-winning author/musician/composer Dr. Eugene Marlow (Journalism) for their collaboration: “Blue In Green: Original Compositions by Eugene Marlow Inspired by the Jazz Poems of Grace Schulman” (MEII Enterprises 2018).
November 29 CD Release: “Lotus Blossom: Billy Strayhorn and The Michael Hashim Quartet” coincident with Strayhorn’s 104th birthday.
December 12 Performance: Eugene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble (duo) performs for the Baruch College Department of English Wassail.
2020
January 27 Dr. Eugene Marlow begins his 64th semester teaching courses in media and culture at Baruch College (City University of New York).

Please check back often as updates with new dates and more details
will be added to the schedule.

Click here to learn more about Eugene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble

EMHE

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Record of the Year: West Side Story Reimagined

Album of the Year: "West Side Story Reimagined" Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band

Eugene Marlow’s bembé arrangement of
“Maria” kicks off the second CD
of the two-set album.

 

According to the JazzHeads label “Maria”
is one of the top 3 tracks streamed from this album.

 

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Marlow’s “Jazz in China” Book Nominated for “Best Jazz Book” by the Jazz Journalists Association


BREAKING NEWS! April 15, 2019: Dr. Eugene Marlow’s book Jazz in China: From Dance Hall Music to Individual Freedom of Expression (University Press of Mississippi August 2018) has been nominated by the Jazz Journalists Association in the
“Best Jazz Book” category. Voting ends April 28.Jazz in China: From Dance Hall Music to Individual Freedom of Expression by Eugene Marlow, Ph.D.

January 2019: The New York City Jazz Record names Dr. Marlow’s Jazz in China book one of the “five best books on jazz in 2018.”

November 2018: Reviewer Kevin Canfield writes: “Jazz in China: From Dance Hall Music to Individual Freedom of Expression is a sweeping, informative work of history.” (New York City Jazz Record).

October 2018: Tom Cunniffe (Jazz History Online) calls the Jazz in China “a pioneering study.”

August 2018: University Press of Mississippi publishes Jazz in China: From Dance Hall Music to Individual Freedom of Expression.

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“Blue in Green” An Award-Winning Album of Poetry and Jazz Coming April 2019

Blue In Green: Original Compositions by Eugene Marlow, Inspired by the Jazz Poems of Grace Schulman“Blue In Green: Original Compositions by Eugene Marlow Inspired by the Jazz Poems of Grace Schulman”—a collaborative album of 10 poetry tracks by world-renowned, award-winning poet Grace Schulman and 10 original jazz compositions by award-winning composer/arranger Eugene Marlow—will be released on April 30, 2019, International Jazz Day. April is also both Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) and Poetry Appreciation Month.

Dr. Grace Schulman, a Distinguished Professor of English at Baruch College (City University of New York) —who contributed and recorded the jazz poems on this album—will be inducted in the American Academy of Arts and Letters on May 22, 2019.  She is also the 2016 Robert Frost awardee from the Poetry Society of America.

Hear Now Official Selection 2019“Blue In Green” has been selected to be part of  National Audio Theatre Festivals (NATF) Playhouse’s 2019 PODCAST  PALOOZA at the 2019 HEAR Now Festival. The Festival’s podcast pages opens the day of the Festival, June 6, 2019, and runs through August 1, 2019.

“Blue In Green” is also a March 2019 recipient of a Silver Medal Award from the Global Music Awards.

2019 Silver Medal AwardNumerous jazz musicians are referenced in Schulman’s poems, including: Art Tatum, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Bill Evans, and Thelonious Monk, as well as classical violinist Itzhak Perlman and Danish author Chris Albertson.

Marlow’s challenge was to create compositions that reflected—in whole or in part—the content or tone of each of Schulman’s 10 jazz poems.

“Blue In Green” will be available on cdbaby.com April 30, 2019.

Advance copies of the CD can be purchased for $15 + S&H by contacting Eugene Marlow at meiienterprises@aol.com. Use code word “BING” in the subject line.

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