Zach Mayer / Zamru
CD and MP3s available from Bandcamp and other streaming vendors/services
Zach Mayer is one of those amazing menshes who also makes wonderful, gentle music. Over the years I have seen him in a variety of KlezKanada settings, and then backing singers such as Eleanor Reissa. It wasn't until I took a morning class in nigunim with him a couple of years ago at Yiddish New York (perhaps it was KlezKanada?—in this Zoom-entwined pandemic period, who remembers?) that I began really paying attention to his new music and playing it over and over.
One of the wonders of the album is hearing familiar words (say, starting with the opening "Praise to the Creator, Blessed is his name") to new tunes and then letting them take over, relax the mind, give one new insight into the words. Several of the nigunim, "V'tein Refuah," or "What a lucky joy!" that I learned in his class, come to mind, are especially appropriate for meditation. That state is especially easy to sustain on songs such as "Racheim Aleinu" and its accompanying harmonium drone.
The album closes with two of my favorite tunes, the wordless "River Nigun" and a meditative tune titled, "Elul" (that reflective month prior to Rosh Hashana) in which Zach repeats and harmonizes, "I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me." A fitting end to the year and a beginning to a new one—and an excuse to put the whole thing on again and to sit, entranced, once again.
Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 27 Dec 2021
Personnel this recording:
Zach Mayer: vocals, soprano and baritone saxophones, piano, kanjira drum, harmonium, keyboard
- Havu Ladonai 3:17
- Ma Tovu 3:59
- Shiru Ladonai 4:07
- V'tein Refuah 4:40
- Zamru 3:45
- Eli Atah 4:58
- What a lucky Joy! 6:27
- Modeh Ani chant 4:26
- Racheim Aleinu 4:02
- River's nigun 4:51
- Elul 3:51
All songs composed by Zach Mayer