CD Review: Judith Cohen / Sefarad en Diáspora
Judith R. Cohen / Sefarad en Diáspora, Pneuma, 2006 PN-780.
Ordering information: Karonte Distribution, Avda. Alfonso XIII Nr. 141, E-28016 Madrid. Fax: +34 91 350 3358. Available from Casa de Jacob's (they're in alphabetical order by CD title - scroll way down, or, apparently from HMV in the UK
A new CD from Judith Cohen is always a treat. Her recent albums have been primarily, but never exclusively, Sephardic folk songs. In this latest outing she has assembled a wonderful ensemble featuring Wafir Sheikh and Bill Cooley. Her daughter, Tamar Adams, has also matured vocally, and is a greater delight with every recording. The call response on "Romance Hermanas Reina y Cautiva," accompanied by solitary kanun(?) is wonderful.
On this CD, Cohen is focused on the Sephardic diaspora, and the way that songs and melodies travel. Sometimes one changes, sometimes the other; sometimes all that is left is the theme. What unites them on this recording is wonderful singing and playing. We hear two variants on the shabbes song, L'cha dodi. And then there is "Romance de la Vuelta", the familiar story of the faithful woman awaiting her soldier, gone for seven years. In the seven very different variants here (Moroccan to French to Italian to Turkish...), as, here, in "John Riley", after testing her faithfulness, he reveals that he has returned. In other variants, she is told that he is dead. A very gloomy song in some versions, but the singing and instrumental playing make them all worth hearing, whether it is the supposedly happy ending of damsel first tried by her alleged lover, or the sadder versions. [GRADE: A]