Ruth Yaakov (16 May 1960, Israel; vocals), Juan Carlos Sungurlian (b. 17 April 1963, Montevideo, Uruguay; ud/bouzouki/saz), Shkelzen Doli (b. 9 August 1971, Elbasen, Albania; violin/accordion), Levent Tarhan (b. 1 January 1963, Adana, Turkey; percussion). Formed in Israel in 1993 by classically trained vocalist Yaakov, the Ensemble mixes together various Mediterranean and Balkan styles. This is reflected in the origins of the members of the group (who, between them, have previous experience playing folk, jazz, classical and experimental music), as well as in the instruments that they play, which include three plucked string instruments (the Turkish saz, the Greek bouzouki and the Middle Eastern ud) and the darabukka (a Balkan percussion instrument). The groups debut, Shaatnez, celebrates the music of the Sephardim, the Jews of Spain, who were expelled from their homeland in the fifteenth century and settled in Turkey, Greece, Morocco, Bulgaria, Serbia and Slovenia. The album features 20 short songs, some sung unaccompanied by Yaakov, but mostly featuring imaginative instrumental backing from the trio who are able to meet the demands of the various styles soaked up by the exiled Sephardim.
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