"The ethnic elements are cleverly rewired with modern grooves to create an ambient journey that thrillingly bridges the traditional and the modern." The Times (London)
The Project is the brainchild of Raichel, who became fascinated by the music of Israel's growing population of Ethiopian Jews while he was a counselor for teens at a boarding school of immigrant youth, many of them Ethiopian and most of them without their parents. He was intrigued by the tapes of traditional Ethiopian music that some of the children played, realizing that, although thousands of Ethiopians immigrated to Israel, they were an insulated population, their traditions and songs remaining within their own restaurants and clubs.
As Raichel explained, "The Eastern African community in Israel is one of the most interesting because they've kept their roots and traditions alive for thousands of years, and it's never been heard in the mainstream." Once Raichel was introduced to this music, he began searching for Ethiopian restaurants in Tel Aviv where he could hear it.
A heady blend of modern ambience and ancient traditions, the Project's resulting 2002 debut release was an unparalleled musical phenomenon that took Israel by storm, generating four No. 1 hits and reaching triple-platinum status. The Project's second recording went gold two days after it was released. In late 2006, the collective released its first, self-titled CD in the United States, a combination of the group's two Israeli CDs. Upon its release, Billboard proclaimed: "This disc is surely one of the most fascinating titles to emerge in world music this year. ... Raichel's U.S. debut is a multi-ethnic tour de force."
Looking beyond intercultural differences and celebrating the value of diversity, the songs Raichel creates blend traditional Ethiopian folk music, Arabic poetry, Yemenite chants, Biblical psalms and Caribbean rhythms. The collective consists of 70 artists from all over the world and range in age from 16 to 84. Among the artists who have played on the Projectâ€™s CDs are Sergio Braams, from Suriname in South America, Yihia Tsubara and his son Shalon Tsuberi who are traditional Yemenites, Bongani Xulu, a South African singer, Ethiopian singer Cabra Casay and Arab-Israeli vocalist Mira Anwar Awad. The musicianship and vocals of the performers combine with Raichelâ€™s sophisticated production techniques to create a powerful musical experience.
While Raichelâ€™s original intention may not have been to send a message of tolerance and solidarity, the Projectâ€™s multicultural profile is as appealing to many as its global sound. Now a worldwide icon, The Idan Raichel Project has performed to sell-out crowds in Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Singapore and beyond. People around the globe are responding to the lush melodies, the layers of rhythms and sounds, the emotion-packed voices and the spiritual lyrics based on biblical psalms and other ancient texts. The music is different, yet the listener can hear the traditions that form the roots of the music.
Tickets for The Idan Raichel Project are available for $76, $60 and $42. They can be purchased online at www.uclalive.org, by phone at 310-825-2101, in person at the UCLA Central Ticket Office at the southwest corner of the James West Alumni Center and at all Ticketmaster outlets. UCLA students may purchase tickets in advance for $20.
Several members of BrooWaha will be present at Idan Raichel's show on November 15th at UCLA to cover the event.