TzadikPharaoh's Daughter : Out of the reeds (US/..,199?,re.2004)****
"Out of The Reeds" is a different project, inspired directly from Baysha's travels to Morocco, Turkey, and Middle East Africa. It has been rereleased on John Zorn's 'radical Jewish Culture' series, a sub-labeling which can be confusing, and which slightly does injustice of the origins of the musical forms presented. Much of this music was founded, and more typical of certain areas itself, more than for ethnically defined groups, even when some groups and individuals had their own popular forms. I just prefer not to see the tendency growing how some people might claim certain forms of music to be exactly and only theirs, in a similar way how a piece of ground or material is claimed once it is taken, as if the place and form could no longer evolve, in a humane way, not by means of different owners, but by reastablishing it as something more vivid, or by giving it a new opening up towards more revived visions and purposes through creativity. It is of course about a renewed revival of traditions, that the series wants to present, as a renewed consciousness within the Jewish community, which is great, but beyond the labeling, about a re-establiment and giving of new life to their own roots, one must realize that the music itself goes beyond one community.
A tradition in general can consist of certain technical musical forms in order to remember and help in playing and composing, but in practical life, once labelled as a 'tradition' this could also work in a way that means it has a limitation imposed upon with the expression, because of the focusing on certain repetitive forms or repeated ideas and on the most steady, recognisable combinations, something which can become a social tool and even a social control tool over someone's group identity, taking with this tool a distance from other groups (-in the same way how the shari evolved very quickly to become more than a practical scarf to hide one's face when necessary, after Muslims felt obliged to change the idea about it, after they were confused too often with the look of the Indians, something which created a whole new story of its own, with its own reestablishment of older associations and the forming of a new identity with it-), and leading also to a certain limitation of creativity. At one point one group starts to over-repeat something to form a recognisable 'root'. I once read "People are not trees so why do they look for their roots ?". It is known that (after so much immigration), people who don't recall their slowly built up genetic memory, tend to compensate for this to look for what is the most easily recognisable confirmation of their roots, and tends often to be vague or primitive when lost for so long. What they can find easily in religion and countries of origin, are always labelled as the foundations of group traditions, whilst in reality for humans the richness of their culturally identity, like also within their culture their formed individual identity, was not really formed by such 'roots'. I prefer to say: "Humans have no roots, only ways, and experiences". What is seen as roots are actually the shells of growing seeds. When you know the tree many forms and ways have been explored. At some moment when one group starts to form a pattern of social behavior to be repeated, from the moment they found it practical and recognisable, some others start to take a distance from this tendency at the stage when the lack of spontaneity is noticed within the repeated forms. In reality any not too radically restricted group adapts with pleasure all musical forms it can find and chooses amongst all available expressions. Individuals have only a certain amount of forms that can be successful and understandable to a specific group. But the only real restrictions and commitment is to the mood and the associated field of a specific area where he or she lives. I personally believe that certain world areas possess a certain “energy”, flavour and strength which often is also common for all groups living in that area, and which evolves in parts throughout the world, with some minor variations, by different opinions of individuals or groups. When using such local traditions with an open creativity, this basic form then easily also becomes more recognisable for people outside that area. Only real spontaneity and creativity can revive the traditions. This spontaneity makes free also a more generally recognisable humane factor in the performance. When there is more adaptation and openness to the occurring changes, this can happen through a form of improvisation. Anyhow it is this humane character which meets other people automatically, while tradition purely on its own can only restrict further and further until everybody is frustrated and radical. It is this kind of creative form I described which really can take the "roots" and grow like a tree. For the Jews in can mean an openness of creativity. In general with each form of creativity, even when dealing with all the former restrictions, everybody meets. The source of a creative balance even within an area of very restricted forms is the meeting place and the meeting point of being a human being. Knowing and sensing what you personally can do with all tradition forms is also a very normal thing to do when acting in a humane way.
The album has a wide range of styles with Sephardic and Ashkenazi associations. Very beautiful is the opener, the instrumental "Afilu", which shows Basya and the established group's talent to blend styles. This track seems to have a subtle African touch mixed with Middle Eastern, as well as a Western touch. It mixes beautifully Indian tabla with drums, and acoustic as well as electric instruments. "Hamavdil" is a Ladino traditional, a Hebrew song with a jazzy bass. The traditional "Shnirele Perele" with powerful cello arrangement, oud tabla,..sounds like an old medieval dance that also could be from many areas (-the vocal arrangements could have been Scandinavian-), again presented as a perfect blend. The liturgical "Lecha Dodi", a simple song with repetitons, with more people singing along in the end, sounds almost like some more song-orientated celebrative music done in Indian temples than I've heard before on some recordings. The "West African Niggun" could have been an Irish flavoured tune if you wish, again with beautiful cello, flute.. "Im Ein Ani Li Mi" has a larger oud passage, a rather happy-melodic song. "Taitsch” sounds like a rhythmic children song but is surprisingly a composition based upon a text from 'Exodus'. The song "Hevel" founds on some worked out guitar theme. "Koomi Lach" is very moody in an almost Pakistani way : singing with harmonium and tabla, with some additional cello. The Spanish ladino traditional "Ija Mia" is once more recognisable, a nice blend once more, and a strong ending with this Spanish flavour. Last track is a remix by Daniel Freedman, I think done for the reissue, which is a for me not so necessary 'studio-playtime' mix, that might have fitted well on a worldbeat sampler but is not contributing as much compared to the thoughtful compositional creativity elsewhere.