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Idan Raichel: Creating a New Musical Language

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Thursday April 12, 2012

from The American Jewish World

Idan Raichel: Creating a New Musical Language
By Mordecai Specktor

It’s not every day you talk with an Israeli superstar.

After a series of e-mails over recent weeks with his manager, the AJW finally caught up with peripatetic and popular musician Idan Raichel, who has become a luminary on the “world music” scene.

Raichel, who last played here in 2005, will perform with Vieux Farka Touré, a sensational guitarist from Mali, who has been dubbed the “Hendrix of the Sahara,” on Monday, April 16 at the Dakota Jazz Club (3-30-12 AJW).

During a chat last week with the Jewish World by phone from Tel Aviv, Raichel talked about his gigs this month with Touré; their new album, The Tel Aviv Session; and upcoming projects.

Asked about his history of performing in Minnesota, Raichel drew a blank. “I have to admit that when we are touring… we keep touring airports more than cities.”

He explains that tours involve a round of arriving at an airport, going to the venue for a sound check, performing the concert, and then back to the airport for a flight to the next town, all in a 24-hour time span.

In any case, Raichel says he’s looking forward to meeting fans, old and new, when he plays the Dakota. He admits to being “surprised,” when touring in the Midwest with his band, the Idan Raichel Project, by the warm welcome he has received, even though he performs a “non-English music,” which apparently is understood “as a universal language.”

I mention that the AJW published a story about Ravid Kahalani, the vocalist and frontman for Yemen Blues, who performed at a well-attended show in January at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis (12-23-11 AJW). Kahalani, an Israeli of Yemenite ancestry, attained prominence several years ago as part of Raichel’s eclectic musical group.

“He’s still a member of the Idan Raichel Project,” the 34-year-old musician affirms. “He’s playing with us these days, and going on his solo tours. This is the magic with the Idan Raichel Project: It became like a train station — artists from all over are joining the train… and then they continue with their own path, and go back and forth.”

Some 95 musicians — ranging in age from 16 to 91 — have performed with the Idan Raichel Project over the past decade, says Raichel, who adds that his large ensemble recently toured and is set to hit the road again in June.

In the meantime, Raichel is preparing for a tour of U.S. and Canada, in April, with Touré, who is the son of the late legendary guitarist Ali Farka Touré.

Read the full article here