Hello and welcome to The Shikhanovich Spiel, a weekly publication from congregation member Alex Shikhanovich. This digital newsletter will follow a variety of topics including, Jewish news, interpretations of the current week’s Torah portion, and a breakdown of Jewish holidays.
This week’s issue is part of a recurring publication called the 6 point playlist. It is a collection of 6 songs by Jewish artists or with Jewish influence that will be added to a playlist available to all readers (link below). Each edition will feature songs in a variety of genres as well as details about the song and artist. Please enjoy this week’s 6 point selection:
Slow by Leonard Cohen
This track from Cohen’s Popular Problems album is a soulful, groovy tune from Cohen’s later work. The harmonies in the chorus pair beautifully with Leonards’s deep timbre. My personal favorite part is the organ which serves as an interesting addition to the otherwise mellow song.
The Drunken Jew by Firewater
Clearly inspired by Klezmer, this fun clarinet-centric piece is a fun, upbeat song. This song would be right in place playing through speakers at your next Jewish wedding or Bar-Mitzvah, as it draws from the classic chord progressions that are commonly found in Jewish tunes.
Jerusalem, New York, Berlin by Vampire Weekend
Listeners may benefit from reading the lyrics to this song, as there is quite a bit of meaning behind the words. The song references the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the “three stones on a mountain” that represent Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Summertime – Instrumental by Willie “The Lion” Smith
Willie Smith is a musician with a truly fascinating story. I highly recommend you pursue his Wikipedia page. In addition to being one of the most influential Jazz pianists alongside Duke Ellington, he worked as a cantor for a Black Jewish congregation in Harlem. This song pairs wonderfully with a good view and a warm coffee and should be a staple for Jazz-enjoyers.
Right by Mac Miller
This one might not be for everyone. The late Mac Miller is best known for his career as a rapper. However, this slower track of his album Circles (Deluxe) seems to directly defy his established style. The album as a whole was a soulful self-reflection of Mac’s life. This track is best listened to with a good pair of headphones, as the layers and harmonies create a very complete and balanced song.
Bienvenue / Abiadi by Marurice el Medioni
Here is another musician with a fascinating past. El Medioni is a Jewish pianist that draws influence from Arabic, Jewish, Cuban, Algerian, boogie, and Jazz styles. This song is an excellent showcase of his multi-cultural blend. The vocals are beautifully accompanied by the bass and accented trumpet notes.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s addition to the 6 Point Playlist. All songs will be linked in a Spotify playlist in addition to YouTube links for each song. Happy listening.