Yemen Blues with Ravid Kahalani
With his penchant for natty suits and funky hair, you might mistake Ravid Kahalani for a pretty face in front of a formidable world-fusion group, if it weren't for his soulful voice, deep skill and undeniable passion. The Israeli-born son of Yemenite Jewish parents, Kahalani grew up singing chants in synagogues; it was there that he was steeped in the Yemenite musical traditions. From there he discovered soul, funk and blues, resulting in a passion for highly orchestrated collective musicianship blossomed.
Informal jam sessions with “the Israeli Charles Mingus,” bassist Omer Avital, and Israeli-Uruguayan percussionist Rony Iwryn were the seeds of Yemen Blues, which they conceived from the start as an inclusive outfit, the voice for their inherited traditions filtered through an internationalist lens. The addition of genre-defying master musicians such as Israeli percussionist Itamar Doari, New York jazz trumpeter Itamar Borochov and John Zorn’s bassist and oud player Shanir Blumenkranz as the core of the group positions them at the apex of world fusion bands.
In Yemen Blues, Israeli, Arabic and West African traditions mingle seamlessly with their African-American counterparts and modern electronica. As Kahalani says, "I want people to enjoy the groove and melodies and be together, with all their different religious and political opinions, and to know there is a base connecting us all. That can change everything."