Last night the Epichorus celebrated the release of our 2nd album, Najara, out on Sawdust Records. It was a magnificent evening, surprising even. We didn’t think so many folks would drudge through the late winter eve to join us, and instead we sold out National Sawdust. It was wondrous to be surprised by a creation of our own making. From within the heart of the thing, we had no idea how big it had become. It blew us away. I’m thrilled to share that with all of you, friends who have been such dedicated keepers and carriers of a new musical legacy that we don’t even know what we’re weaving, yet.
The album is named for Yisrael Najara, a 15th century cabbalist, poet, vagabond melody collector. As I studied Najara’s poetry with the Syrian and Iraqi master musicians of Jerusalem, I felt something they didn’t – that Najara’s work, though clothed in pseudo-religious garb, was deeply in line with the rebellious, erotic, imaginative spirit that we carry forth in our work at The New Shul. Both song and religion are capable of honoring tradition and transgressing it, all while remaining within that magnificent space we call ceremony.
So that’s what we did to celebrate and release the record – we made ceremony, heretical and reverential at once, in the heart of Williamsburg at midnight on the first Thursday of February 2018. The album is out today across all platforms. Take a listen, and I’ll introduce you to my dear friend, the rabbi-poet of Gaza, Najara.
Rabbi Zach Fredman