Jewish Blues – Chazzanut inspired Jazz

August 23, 2009 by Henry Benjamin
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Mark Ginsburg is an accomplished jazz musician who has turned to chazanut for inspiration.

The 53-year-old South African born musician is currently studying for his Masters degree at the Conservatorium of Music in Sydney and has turned to his Jewish roots for the papers he is presenting.

“I am not alone” he told J-Wire. “Many of the famous Jewish musicians of the 20th century will have been musically informed at a young age through exposure to the Jewish prayer modes used in cantorial music.


Mark Ginsburg

Ginsburg, who lives with his fellow-musician wife Judy Campbell in the leafy Sydney suburb of St Ives will release his new CD “Generations” at the city’s leading jazz venue The Basement on Wednesday evening and his work will have to contend with the critical ear of Australia’s best known Chazan, Shimon Farkas.

The tenor-saxophonist told J-Wire: “As a young boy, I was a member of the choir at the Camps Bay Synagogue in Capetown. I remember the choirmaster holding us on a pedal chord while the Chazan sung wonderful cadenzas. At high school I played fusion guitar and was introduced to and became obsessed by the saxaphone when I was 22. I was lucky to get some great gigs there. I had three brothers who were passionate about jazz and both my parents were musical. But I was fortunate to experience the sounds of the African rhythms though sadly it was through having servants who worked in our home… and also living to local music on the African radio stations.

Ginsburg learned of the inequities of South African life at university adding: “There were ten of us living in student digs and two were taken away by the secret police and even their parents didn’t know where they were. We were constantly being watched.”

During his early jazz days, Ginsburg recalled how black musicians were not allowed to perform on stage with them but many club owners threw caution to the wind and took their chances. Ginsburg recalls one particular session when a famous and highly talented black African sax player had to play in the wings out of sight of the audience.

Ginsburg came to Australia 30 years ago

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