Tuesday, August 14, 2007

We report, you decide

Some sleuthing on the blogosphere has revealed the identity of the musician who led the "jazzy" service at Kutz Camp. If you go to this link and click on "Jazz Shabbat", you can listen to samples and judge for yourself.


  1. this seems to typify what a lot of jewish institutions (such as the jewish week, movemental leaders, &c.) think "innovation" is. It's flashy, it involves instruments, it is in a "non-jewish" musical mode.
    the thing is: the music of mr. bloom is anything BUT innovative! it combines a fairly formal vocal presentation with mediocre jazz-styled instrumentation (like kosher-style? you decide...). sorry to say, but it sounds schmaltzy, and schmaltz hardly seems innovative to me.
    to make a broader point about jewish music: instrumentation should hardly be seen as "innovative!" there is no way that psalmic recitation at the Temple was not filled with instrumental music! and Lord what a jam that must've been (c.f. Ps. 150, &c.)! also, in every era, "jewish" music has taken from that which surrounded it. carlebach played at folk fests, chassidic niggunim were eastern european songs, etc. if anything, this sort of musical cholent typifies jazz! does anyone know the story about HaRav charlie parker? he was playing a set at a club, and he saw stravinksy. he then proceeded to play "the firebird suite" in such a manner that made stravinksy flip out.
    if anything, jewish music NEEDS good musical innovation, not the same rehashing of the tired old schmaltz... crap. the kutz kids didn't walk out because they were vanguards of traditionalism; they walked out cuz it sucked (sorry, mr. bloom).
    spiritual music should continue to pick up on the music of its environment, which is a very different thing now, as it was different a hundred years ago (the golden age of chazzanut - when cantors performed in opera halls for non-jews!). we live in a globalized world, with all its blessings and curses. one of the blessings is exposure to beautiful traditions the world over. personally, i think we should be looking to other musical styles, with of course an ethical eye turned to issues of cultural appropriation. what do you all think?

  2. I was at "the service." I was one of those who, though unmoved by Mark's aesthetic, recognized the lack of communal integrity, the display of rudenss towards Mark, and the ignorance of the fact that words were the important thing involved in walking out. Don't even get me started on davening in a bathroom.

    Anywho, my point is that I now a lot of people considerably older than myself who would've had their socks knocked off by Mark's service. All in all, jazz judaism isn't the worst idea in the litrugical world. It was just a bad idea for Kutz and that was apparent to me from miles away.

  3. I don't why I said that last comment. That was totally unenlightening. Let me say something else.

    The issue that many are debating around this service is whether it is valid or invalid to do a service with jazz music. That is not the issue at thand. The story is not "litrugical moron comes into litrugically pious community and pisses them off." It is "guy trying to show Kutz something different invited in by clueless adult pisses off the odd dogma of teens looking for things to be pissed about." He didn't do anything wrong. He just did it in front of people not set up to appreciate it, myself included.

  4. Now I am going to have that stuck in my head all day.

    Thanks a lot, BZ!

    And, yeah, my reaction was "crap." But "schmaltz" will do, too.

  5. Oh wow, um:

    1. Mediocre - Just musically, it was absolutely horrible.
    2. A performance - where is the personal davening? Tefila isn't a concert (or it shouldn't be).

  6. I fully support a conversation about meaningful worship in a Reform context, whatever that may mean.

    I do not, however, support lashon hara. The identity of the musician is not and should not be a matter of conversation. Shame on you for putting it out there and starting that conversation.

  7. How is it lashon hara to link (without comment) to a website that is already very public? This musician created a promotional website because he wanted people to go to it and hear the music. If anything, I'm providing free publicity. If people hear the music and like it, then maybe they'll buy a CD, and if they don't like it, then they probably weren't going to buy a CD anyway.

    As for the commenters who wrote negative comments about the music, would it be lashon hara if they were to write a negative review of the album in a newspaper? None of their comments were ad hominem; it was all about the music. And while some of them may have used strong language, it's nothing that would be out of place in the Village Voice.

  8. 1. To say "I know such-and-such about so-and-so" is Lashon Hara. Even to speak praise is considered so.

    2. From a comment on the blog you cited: Causing the type of embarassment we caused for [the musician] is forbidden in our tradition. When we lose sight of the other because they don't practice the same way we do, we have lost sight of Torah, and the reason we pray in the first place.

    You've spread that embarrassment to a much wider audience (your readers) than the the blogger you cited commands.

    I'm commenting anonymously because I don't want the fact that I now know to become known.