Mosaica: Eugene Marlow's Heritage Ensemble Reimagines Popular Hebraic MeldoiesMosaica: Eugene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble Reimagines Popular Hebraic Melodies

Mosaica reimagines seven popular Hebraic melodies and one original composition (in two versions). The melodies were chosen because they represent memorable events in the Jewish experience and the greater diaspora. They also lend themselves perfectly to the Heritage Ensemble’s multi-cultural musical approach.  (MEII Enterprises © 2014)

Thank You to everyone who supported the  “Mosaica” RocketHub Campaign



The Jewish Journal Article About Mosaica

About Each Track

  1. “Hava Nagila” (Let us rejoice) – This ain’t your grandmother’s version!
  2. “Lahadam” (The Land of Lahadam)
  3. “Zikkaron/Kristallnacht” (Remembrance of Kristallnacht)
  4. “Eliyahu Hanavi” (Elijah the Prophet)
  5. “Mah Nishtanah Halaylah Haze” (The Four Questions/The Four Children)
  6. “Erev Shel Shoshanim” (Evening of Roses, an Israeli love song)
  7. “Halicha L’Kesariya” (Journey to Caesaria)
  8. “Ani Maamin” (I believe) (a commissioned arrangement)
  9. “Zikkaron/Kristallnacht” (Remembrance of Kristallnacht) (Special Edition)

About the Album

“Mosaica” attempts to convey a picture of the possibilities of cultural collaboration through music. Mosaica” combines the word “musika,” —or music—and “mosaic.” —a picture or decoration made of small, usually colored pieces of inlaid stone, glass, et al.

The title of this album—the combination of the two words—is purposeful. The Heritage Ensemble reimagines popular Hebraic melodies in various jazz, Afro-Caribbean, Brazilian, and classical styles. Instead of small, usually colored pieces of inlaid stone, our materials are small, black notes on a page and the influences of various musical cultures. This is why the New York City Jazz Record called the ensemble “a cross-cultural collaboration that spins and grooves.”

The backgrounds of the Ensemble’s musicians reflect the “Mosaica” of the Ensemble’s repertoire and performance. Bronx-born 7X Grammy-nominee drummer Bobby Sanabria and virtuoso percussionist Matthew Gonzalez are Nuyoricans —they are of Puerto Rican descent, born and raised in New York City. NEA Performance Grantee saxophonist Michael Hashim is of Lebanese descent. Phi Beta Kappa bassist Frank Wagner’s family hails from Eastern Europe. My own family background is Russian, Polish, German, and British.

This is also the first Heritage Ensemble album that features a vocalist, Shira Lissek, herself a cantor, who brings a prodigious performance to four of the album’s tracks.

The “Zikkaron/Kristallnacht (Remembrance of Kristallnacht) Special Version” track features aural effects and a narration by my Aunt Ruth who survived Kristallnacht (“The Night of Broken Glass”) in Leipzig, Germany in 1938.

Eugene Marlow, Ph.D.
The Heritage Ensemble
November 2014

Reviews for “Mosaica”

“A stunning collection of songs that simultaneously sound familiar and brand new.”
The Jewish Journal  (Read the Full Article)

“There are better known figures on the Jewish jazz scene than pianist and arranger Eugene Marlow, but few come close to him in terms of sheer musicality. And his 2014 album, Mosaica, with his excellent Heritage Ensemble is his best, deepest felt and, both musically and thematically, most widest ranging release yet. Can be recommended unreservedly.”
Mike Gerber, Writer, journalist. radio presenter, and author of Jazz Jews, a global historical and journalistic study of Jewish connections in jazz

“While it has become common for musicians from various genres to dabble in different traditions other than their own in order to present something ‘new,’ no other group has so successfully melded traditional Hebraic melodies to swinging jazz and Latin rhythms as has Eugene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble. Exemplary of this is the group’s latest offering ‘Mosaica’.”
— Elena Martínez, City Lore, Folklorist

“Mosaica reminds us how jazz can embrace and transform music from every region, every tradition. It’s great to hear these eternal Hebrew melodies, conveying joy and solace, in sophisticated, emotive renditions by Eugene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble.”
— David Adler, Jazz Journalist 
“Just finished listening to this marvelous piece of art by Eugene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble and was blown away by the experience. It is a fusion of Hebraic melodies in various jazz, Afro-Caribbean, Brazilian and classical styles. That tells you something about what it is, but does not tell you of the level of accomplishment by these master musicians and a glorious singer.

To put it simply, it is brilliant from a purely musical standpoint. Gene Marlow’s beautiful touch on piano and his rich harmonic textures are a joy to behold and the overall level of musicianship is outstanding.

In some instances there is contained dialog against the musical texture that is riveting. The texture between the music and the vocal tracks is also an extreme example of the artistry displayed by everyone involved with this marvelous project.  It is more than just music. It is an experience and one you won’t want to miss.”
— Mike Longo, Jazz Pianist, Composer, Author, Former Music Director for Dizzy Gillespie
“Not only is the music very beautifully played, it’s a deeply moving tribute, especially, of course, the Kristallnacht pieces, I really felt that in my heart, it hits home. And I like very much the way Marlow balanced the more somber aspects with the celebratory side.”
— David Balakrishnan, Founder/Violinist, Grammy-Award winning Turtle Island Quartet   

“Eugene Marlow and his Heritage Ensemble have created a compelling, thought-provoking collection of music drawn from and reflective of the Hebraic tradition. Like the Jewish faith itself, this music is inclusive, not exclusive. The multi-ethnic compositions of the Heritage Ensemble reflect this inclusion, and lend a distinctive flavor to the music, which ranges from introspective to energetic. The members of the Ensemble excel as a team and as individuals with captivating performances of Marlow’s imaginative compositions and arrangements.

“The proceedings are capped off by a truly moving rendition of his highly evocative composition, ‘Zikkaron/Krystallnacht (Special Edition).’ It is a musical/aural depiction of a landmark event of horror perpetrated on the Jewish people in Nazi Germany. With the addition of Marlow’s Aunt Ruth’s narration, herself a holocaust survivor, the piece becomes a profound statement of fear and terror. Other selections reflect feelings of joy and hope, in true Hebraic fashion.

“In Mosaica, Eugene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble skillfully blends the Hebraic and Jazz traditions!”
— Andy LaVerne, Jazz Pianist

“Wow, what tracks on this album! I’ve seen the Heritage Ensemble perform live several times. They are just amazing!”
— Lance Strate, Ph.D., Congregation Adas Emuno, Leonia, New Jersey

About Each Track

Track 1: “Hava Nagila” (“Let us rejoice”) is a traditional Jewish folk song that has become a staple of band performers at Jewish weddings and Bar/Bat Mitzvahs. The melody was taken from a folk dance-song from Bucovina (a variant of the Hora) using the Phrygian dominant scale. “Hava Nagila” is probably the most recorded Hebraic melody ever. Singer Harry Belafonte is known for his version of the song, recorded for his “Belafonte at Carnegie Hall” album in 1959. He rarely gave a concert without singing it (along with “The Banana Boat Song”).
Track 2: “Lahadam” (“In The Land of Lahadam”) was created by Naomi Shemer (July 13, 1930-June 26, 2004), a leading Israeli musician and songwriter, hailed as the “first lady of Israeli song and poetry.” “Lahadam” is a Hebrew acronym for “Lo Hayu Dvarim Me’Olam” meaning “It is a downright lie, an impossible tale.” It refers to the disparity between the idealized vision and the reality of Israel as the land of milk and honey. Vocalist: Shira Lissek.
Track 3: The genesis of “Mosaica” is the “Zikkaron/Kristallnacht” (“Remembrance”) track. This original quasi-classical/Hebraic melody composition reflects my maternal grandparents’ family’s experience during Kristallnacht (“The Night of Broken Glass”) in Leipzig, Germany in November 1938.
Track 4: “Eliyahu Hanavi” was written in honor of Elijah the Prophet (ca. 870 B.C.E. – ), one of the greatest prophets of Jewish history and legend. This traditional song, usually sung in the second half of the Passover meal, is here arranged with a feeling of the blues in 12/8 time. Vocalist: Shira Lissek.
Track 5: “Mah nishtanah halaylah haze (“The Four Questions/The Four Children”). The Four Questions are an important part of the Passover Seder that highlight the ways in which Passover customs and foods distinguish the holiday from other times of the year. They are traditionally recited by the youngest person at the table, though in some homes everyone reads them aloud together. The arrangement references the wise child, the wicked (angry) child, the simple child, and the child who does not know enough to ask a question.
Track 6: “Erev Shel Shoshanim” (“Evening of Lilies” or “Evening of Roses”) is a poetic Hebrew love song often used as music at Jewish weddings as a replacement for “Here Comes the Bride.” It is well known in Israeli and Jewish music circles, and throughout the Middle East. The music is by Yosef Hadar, the lyrics by Moshe Dor. Vocalist: Shira Lissek.
Track 7: The melody for “Halicha L’kesariya” (“Journey to Caesaria”) was written by David Zehavi. It is the lyrics by Channah Senesh (1921-1944), however, that makes this melody beloved. Ms. Senesh was a member of Kibbutz Sedot Yam in Caesarea on the Mediterranean Sea. In 1943, at the height of World War II, she volunteered to go into Nazi-controlled areas to save Jewish lives. In 1944 she parachuted into Yugoslavia. After staying with the partisans, she went to Hungary where she was discovered and executed by the Germans. Vocalist: Shira Lissek.
Track 8: Our arrangement of “Ani Ma‘amin” (Moses Maimonides) was commissioned by David Katz in 2012 in honor of a cousin’s birthday. Like many Hebraic melodies, there are numerous versions. One version is attributed to the Reb Azriel David, a Modzitser Hasid, who reportedly composed the tune in a cattle car when being taken to Treblinka Concentration Camp. The tune was taken up by the other Modziter Hasidim who sang the song as they were being herded into the gas chambers of the Nazi concentration camps. The song was then adopted by other Jewish prisoners and became known as the Hymn of the Camps. It is still frequently sung at Holocaust Remembrance Day services. Our interpretation incorporates hard swing.
Track 9: “Zikkaron/Krystallnacht” (Special Edition). This track reflects my maternal grandparents family’s survival of Krystallnacht in November 9-10, 1938 as described by my Aunt Ruth—who was not yet 10 when this atrocity occurred all over Germany and Austria against Jewish homes, shops, and synagogues–in a chapter in her book aptly named The Book of Ruth, Memoirs of a Child Survivor (Southern Highland Publishers, 2000). She has lived in Sydney, Australia for over half a century. The quasi-classical/Hebraic melody represents her mother’s (Anna) resolute calm against the surreal, destructive aggression by the Nazis that night. This track contains my Aunt Ruth’s narration and other aural effects.

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