Rodney King once asked: Can't we all just get along?
Here in South Florida, we found one instance of this ideal scenario. Latin music and that of the Ashkenazi have joined sonic forces in Jubano jazz, a blend of Eastern European klezmer music and Latin jazz. Working the soulful strains of shtetl acoustic melodies into the sexy syncopation of salsa, mambo, and more, JJ reaches for "a third stream of musical consciousness," according to the sound's godfather, Aaron Kula, Director of Music Performance and Education at FAU.
"Latin music crept up on me after I moved to South Florida," Kula, a Long Island native, told New Times. "I grew up looking for different ways for music to connect," the cantor's son told us. "I wanted to embrace tradition and be innovative at the same time."
Kula explains, "Klezmer is a very basic musical tool, used to dance at celebrations. It's a two-step beat, simple and to the point. We're retaining the harmonic and melodic characteristics and writing for four percussionists, taking it to a whole new level."
Sunday afternoon, as the centerpiece of FAU's Kultur Festival 2014, Kula and his 25-piece Klezmer Company Orchestra will take the stage at FAU with "¡JubanoJazz!" A concert of salsa-fied arrangements of vintage tunes from traditional Yiddish theater, the show will feature original compositions by 24-year-old, Venezuelan-born Eric Benaim, a student at FIU, and the other by 27-year-old Brazilian-born Diego Lyra Medeiros, winners of a nationwide competition sponsored by the school.
That Jews have had a presence in Latin music before is made plain by the concert's inclusion of music by Irving Fields, a 98-year-old pianist and composer whose trio's Bagels and Bongos album was released in 1959 and went on to sell two million copies. "We're doing a fully orchestrated version of 'Miami Beach Rhumba,'" Kula said. "With his blessing."
Fire Ant -- an invasive species, tinged bright red, with an annoying, sometimes-fatal sting -- covers public affairs, the environment and culture in Palm Beach County and elsewhere. Got feedback or a tip? Contact Fire.Ant@BrowardPalmBeach.com.