In an interview promoting Life of the Worlds, cantor and songwriter Richard Kaplan explained that the loose and free feel of his music came from encounters with the recordings of John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, and Elvin Jones. Listening to the album it's easy to see why Tyner himself has thrown kind words Kaplan's way. Life of the Worlds contains Jewish sacred world music from the Middle East, Andalusia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia played by a small ensemble, often augmented by guests from around the world. Kaplan sets sacred texts and poems to traditional Jewish melodies and new compositions, or in the case of "Eyn Keloheynu," he offers a new arrangement. His love of music that is both deep and moving keeps the album from being too syrupy, and a respectful but maverick attitude makes it charmingly cosmopolitan over academic. Kaplan's excellent writing and arranging skills are matched by his passionate vocal delivery and lyrical piano playing along with some excellent interaction with his fellow musicians. Take the Afghani Jewish chant "Le'el Adir Neranenah," for example. After Kaplan's fiery vocal opens the number he blends into a radiant choir of voices with the message and mysticism coming through loud and clear. It's his combination of talent and humility that makes him so charismatic and Life of the Worlds such an appealing and illuminating listen. Add a detailed 32-page booklet and you've got an excellent package for both ethnomusicologists and novices who appreciate spiritual music.
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AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
Ha'aderet Veha'emunah - LeKjay Olamim (The Magnificence and the Faithfulness - To the Life of the Worlds)