Prepare yourself for a unique listening experience, as Benjamin Lapidus has created a new and compelling style of jazz inspired ethnic fusion music, melding the rhythmic and folkloric traditions of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean with his Jewish heritage. It's a fascinating combination of style that Lapidus has discovered from travels, the church, life experience, and the search for truth and combinations heretofore ignored or dismissed. He plays tres and a little accordion, with vocal backing, many percussion instruments, a jazz oriented sax here and there, and a different perspective on soul. The outstanding "Son De Hanukah" comprises three happy children's songs displaying jazz oriented instrumental individualism, the changui element tacked onto the Passover song "Na'anu'im," and "Kaddish Para Daniel," a smoldering guaguanco dedicated to the tragically slain Daniel Pearl. A straight Cuban-Jewish 4/4 son-liturgy "Herencia Judia" features the bright trumpet solos of Oscar Onoz, while Onel Mulet adds sax to the 6/8 rhythm of "Etz Chaim," and flute on the haunting danzon ballad "Tzadik Katamar." Mulet sounds a bit like David Liebman on the soprano sax for the jam "Comparsa De Simchat Torah" over a churning percussion section. But it's the first tune, "Ein Kelokeinu," that grabs your head and shakes it, as Lapidus employs the mandolinist Andy Statman and fuses the Puerto Rican bomba, West African King Sunny Ade type rhythm guitars, and soaring Jewish vocals. This tune makes you wonder just what else is in store, and the CD delivers pretty consistently. At times some pedantic, overtly demonstrative spoken word vocals seem out of place vis-à-vis the pure singing. Nonetheless, this is a bold, original and likely pioneering combination of cultures, an outstanding effort for specialized tastes in world music, jazz, and beyond, and one that Lapidus should be proud of, and commended for blending these approaches so well. A quick follow-up, please?
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos