Shlomo Carlebach revolutionized Jewish music by adapting it to the idiom of his time–’60s folk music–and writing new tunes to traditional liturgy that were not only likeable, but listenable.
Now, jazz musician Jon Madof has upped the ante. He created Zion80, a 15-piece band (including a horn section and four percussionists), and interpreted some of Carlebach’s songs in the style of Afrobeat drummer Fela Kuti. The result is a wild, playful, unhinged interpretation of traditional songs in a very untraditional genre. Madof’s interpretations honor and pay tribute to the original songs, while creating a whole new dimension to the music, establishing a musical scope that’s more expansive than the six strings of Carlebach’s acoustic guitar.
The band recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to produce a full-length album, coming in autumn. In the meantime, a live album is available to download free, here. If you’ll be visiting New York any time soon, the band will also have a residency every Monday night in July, August and September at the Stone Club.