Join us on a musical tour of the Israeli shuk, and we’ll show you a bustling marketplace, a true feast for the senses. Smells of roasting Turkish coffee mingle with fresh-picked herbs. Sounds of merchants hawking their wares in a mix of voices, bargaining in Hebrew, Arabic, Amharic, Yiddish, English, Russian, Spanish, French and an array of other languages, mellifluously combine with the bumping noise of carts along the narrow stalls. All this blends with the tinkling of coins dropping down on the counters, and no matter what season, you will feel transported to a different time.
Stop and sample a taste of the finest, most exotic, chocolate-dripping, honey-coated, pistachio-crusted halva, or have a taste of one of the luscious, juicy crimson pomegranates one of the many sellers will so gladly open for you. Run your finger along one of the colorful silken shawls blowing in the gentle breeze, or grasp hold of one of the thick, hand-woven woolen rugs on sale. Just stand, watching and taking it all in – but be careful not to get bumped! It’s all part of the shuk experience …
When asked what the catalyst was for the creation of the band The Shuk, leader Yoni Avital attributes it to his personal experiences traveling the globe. “Through my travels throughout the world, with my flute and guitar on my back, while meeting people from all walks of life…I realized what a wonderful and relatively small global village we live in, one that is much safer and intimate than what all-too-many forces in the media and elsewhere make us believe, a world filled with people who are innately curious about one another. And with the use of the simple, ubiquitous and universal medium of music, I learned, over time, what we, as artists, can truly offer this world.”
If you can’t yet come to Israel and visit a colorful, lively shuk in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv or Haifa for yourself, you can still get a sense of that authentic Israeli flavor. The Shuk is an Israeli band that successfully unites people and music of all backgrounds to produce a multisensory, multicultural music experience. The Shuk has performed in festivals and venues in over thirty countries, earning it the accolades of numerous reviewers for the performers’ fabulous fusion of ethnic, religious, rock, progressive, traditional, jazz and world music styles – and more.
The five musicians of the band bring together a variety of talent to produce music that resonates with energy, life and rich color. Their songs cross boundaries, proving that diversity creates a beautiful blend, that coexistence paves the way for new possibilities, and that music is truly a universal language. Their Experience Israeli and Jewish Culture is an album that epitomizes these ideas. The first track, “Hallelu,” brings a Middle Eastern, Sephardic flavor to the words of Psalms. “Shalom Eretz Nehederet” is a folksy tune that will make you want to sway with the beat. “Adama V’Shamayim” has a fun, wholesome feel. “Jewish Medley” brings out a familiar, traditional rhythm. “Shir Lama’alot” has a soulful, stirring sound. “Hallelujah,” a beautiful cover of the famed Leonard Cohen hit, plays on the emotions. And these are just a few of the twelve diverse tunes on offer on The Shuk’s CD.
The unique ability of a shuk to allow for dialogue and shared cultural experience was one of the things that drew the band to their brand of performance. “The word ‘shuk‘ refers to an open-air market; like the famous shuks that you can find in Tel Aviv’s Shuk Ha’Carmel and Jersualem’s Shuk Machaneh Yehuda and throughout the Middle East. We chose this as the name of the music group back in 2008, as our core belief is to bring our personal cultural roots and heritage via the medium of music to audiences around the world and with it, creating a dialogue and cultural exchange, be it through our concerts on larger stages at theaters or festivals before thousands of people, or through more intimate workshops and master classes. By engaging in a ‘shuk’, we seek to bring people of all backgrounds, nationalities, religions and cultures together in an exchange where they can develop a sense of appreciation, respect and celebration of the culture of others.”
So aptly named, The Shuk’s CD is truly a marketplace for sound, doing for Jewish music what the shuk marketplace has done for Israeli wares and goods. Open, sincere and paying homage to the mix of traditions that make up Israeli culture, The Shuk truly represents the country, internalizing its vast tapestry of peoples and breaking down boundaries. The band’s sound transcends culture, time and place. It fuses a diverse and rich history of Jewish sound that spans the millennia and the globe. It echoes the song of a people that has traversed the planet through Exiles, the Inquisition, pogroms, the Enlightenment, the Holocaust and globalization, moving from Biblical times into the 21st century.
So come, get a taste of Israel. Just close your eyes, sit back and let your ears do the walking …
The Shuk will be touring communities in the US and Canada in May 2016.