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Idan Raichel's authenticity shines in solo show

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Wednesday July 27, 2016

From Jerusalem Post

Idan Raichel sheds a few layers: Revered musical maestro strips to piano and voice for a new series of shows.
By: David Brinn

For someone whose whole persona is based on big – huge – projects, immense bands and flowing, colorful head scarves, going out on stage by yourself with just your piano, voice and shorn scalp can be a paralyzing moment.

But despite some trepidations and butterflies, Idan Raichel is reveling in shedding the lavish trappings that have defined him for over a decade as Israel’s poster boy for musical cross-cultural diversity.

The 38-year-old pianist and disseminator of world music and Israeli goodwill as ringmaster for The Idan Raichel Project is riding on the wave launched by the 2015 release of his first solo album, At the Edge of the Beginning, by staging a solo piano-man tour next month throughout the country.

“From the beginning, I was performing with a big band,” Raichel told The Jerusalem Post recently. “Many artists start alone, appear in small clubs and gradually build up to be bigger with a band. We were lucky that we had a band and a big audience from the beginning. The downside is that the fear of appearing onstage alone grew and grew over the years.”

“But, after seeing so many interesting solo performances in recent years – artists from Dave Matthews to Gilberto Gil and even some theater monologue performances – I developed the confidence and desire to jump into the deep water. Performing solo is still a work in process for me but it’s a great pleasure to emotionally connect with the audience.”

Not having a band to fall back on take some of the brunt of attention and musical tasks has prompted Raichel to rediscover and re-appreciate some of his older fullband songs. Reducing a song down to its essence reveals whether the song stands on its own, or skates along on a great arrangement or rhythm track.

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