Hamidbar Medaber


Tzadik Records, 2014


REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Bringing modern day Jewish music from Toronto, Zebring's sophomore album adds a flourishing jazz influence into their cultural sound, complete with clarinets, wurlitzers, organs and rhodes. Comprised of six extremely talented and sophisticated musicians, including players from Great Lake Swimmers, Royal Wood and the Alex Cuba Band, this sextet places much emphasis on mood, solos and unique melodies. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Sometimes the songs on this disc sound spur of the moment, while other times it seems very obviously carefully planned out. While this is heavy on the clarinets, it also has a sturdy rock 'n' roll backbone and avant-garde moments. Though the disc starts out with “Chant Of Ages,” it hardly seems like a spiritual song; instead, the upbeat sounds flow into clarinet acrobatics. “Revolution In Mind” follows and turns the mood a little darker, and often more sparse, though by the end it's a full, lush explosion of worldly sounds.

These are long songs, all between five and eight minutes, but while they keep their core intact, it's also an often-adventurous one where new dimensions are explored. “The Spirit Within” utilizes guitar effects, funk feelings and a unique interplay between guitar and piano to leave an impression. “Higher Power,” on the other hand, emphasizes meticulous instrumentation while laying the foundation for an R&B groove.

The name Zebrina originates from a plant that translates into  'Wandering Jew,' and Hamidbar Medaber translates into 'The Desert Speaks.' Knowing this will give you somewhat of a clue as to what to expect, but Zebrina is truly an outfit that must be experienced and absorbed carefully to fully understand. To the casual ear this may sound like Klezmer, but upon further inspection it's world music, jam band, experimental jazz excursion into some very organic and mystical territories that bridges the gap between the East and the West.

There's a good chance Hamidbar Medaber would be an anomaly in most people's collections, but it could easily be one of the most interesting discs as well.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2014 Tom Haugen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Tzadik Records, and is used for informational purposes only.