SARAH AROESTE BAND

My friend Sarah Aroeste just got a very nice review courtesy of the Jerusalem of Post. Have a read:

SARAH AROESTE BAND

Puertas

(self-release)

New Yorker Sarah Aroeste founded her eponymous musical project in 2001, shortly after she quit her day job. As part of the staff of the National Foundation for Jewish Culture, she had grown frustrated with the organization’s unwillingness to support any initiatives that weren’t steeped in Ashkenazi tradition.

Therefore, SAB takes traditional Ladino tunes and updates them with loads of New York sass and edgy attitude. “When you think of Jewish music, I don’t think the first things that come to mind are sexy or sensual,” Aroeste recently told The Chicago Tribune. “But this music is incredibly sensual, and the way we present it doesn’t shy away from that.”

Also key to the band’s identity are the heavy contributions of Yoel Ben-Simhon, also of the Sultana Ensemble, who serves here as musical director, oud player and often arranger.

The band’s debut, A la Una, sold well and set the stage for many live performances – including two key appearances at the Sephardic Music Festival – and now the band has released Puertas. Coproduced by Aroeste, Ben-Simhon and the Klezmatics’ Frank London, who has been known to appear on stage with the band, the sophomore effort took over a year to record. The title means “doors,” a reference to the Spanish Jewish families who took their keys with them when they were exiled back in the 15th century, hoping to need them again some day.

Here, rock styles mix with Sephardi tradition. On “Los Bilbilicos,” what starts off sounding like a Shabbat table hymn goes down the rabbit hole and turns into a Floyd-like Hammond and electric guitar jam. “Me Siento Alegre” opens slow and quiet, but it explodes at points into metal-like power chords. Other styles make appearances too, like the understated Arabian classicism of “Avre Tu Puerta,” the polyrhythmic “Una Matica De Ruda,” the Flamenco guitars of “Shabat” and the regal Spanish horn play on “Si La Mar.” There’s even a blippy, breaky “Puertas Remix,” care of Balkan Beat Box front man Tamir Muskat.

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