Teiku - Teiku (2024)

  • 15 Jun, 13:02
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Title: Teiku
Year Of Release: 2024
Label: 577 Records
Genre: Jazz
Quality: 16-bit/44.1kHz FLAC
Total Time: 57 min
Total Size: 310 mb

Teiku arranges our unique family Passover melodies into vehicles for sonic exploration. This ancestral music, much like the tradition of Creative Music through which we interpret it, is liberation music. As its humble stewards we offer it as a call for justice for all oppressed peoples; as Jews, we decry the senseless violence, displacement, and killing perpetrated in our name.
- Josh Harlow and Jonathan Barahal Taylor, bandleaders

Teiku’s origin story feels almost pre-ordained. Co-leaders pianist Josh Harlow and percussionist Jonathan Barahal Taylor built Teiku on the foundation of the music they grew up singing: their Jewish-Ukranian ancestors’ Passover songs, unique to each respective family and passed down aurally over generations. It is worth pointing out how remarkable this is. The holiday of Passover is celebrated with liturgical songs, but for most American Jews, the melodies associated with these texts have become increasingly standardized. Harlow and Taylor’s families each steward a number of unique melodies that likely originated in their ancestral villages but survive only through their family lines. Despite both growing up surrounded by Jewish communities, neither knew of any other families with melodies of their own. The concept for the band had independently incubated for years inside the minds of the co-leaders, and both knew that these beautiful family melodies would somehow have a place in their musical futures. As luck would have it, the two met in the Detroit music scene and developed a strong musical chemistry, eventually discovering their strikingly similar histories and immediately setting out to make Teiku a reality. With these simple vocal melodies as source material, the two crafted multi-layered arrangements that act as rich spaces for improvisation. Sonically and spiritually, it is music that embraces the tenets of Creative Music.

Teiku is a Talmudic acronym that roughly translates to “unanswered question,” a fitting description of the process of discovery that creative improvisers know well: creating spontaneous and cohesive sonic environments that are felt viscerally but cannot be expressed in words. This project reflects its leaders’ musical and spiritual sensibilities: a yearning for insight, an acute sensitivity to the present moment, a space made for searching deeper. The band includes a cast of masterful improvisers, starting with Harlow and Taylor’s mentor, bassist Jaribu Shahid (Griot Galaxy, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Geri Allen, Sun Ra Arkestra), a veteran who brings his decades of highest level musical experience to the ensemble with melodic brilliance and an elastic feel. Woodwind players Peter Formanek (tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, clarinet), and Rafael Leafar (soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, bass flute) form a formidable front line, shifting between heart wrenching melodies and nuanced timbral explorations and blending their distinct voices with poise and ease. Voice recordings from Harlow and Taylor’s families further ground some of the pieces, enhancing the ritualistic musical space and deepening Teiku’s rich array of textures and moods. Arrangements transition from frenetic density to subdued groove to minimalist electro-acoustic soundscapes, but as adventurous as the music gets, the spirit of the melody is never lost. Teiku’s music represents a dialogue with ancestral traditions and celebrates the joy of creativity. The invigorating musical conversation presented in their stunning debut album is a testament to the power of this artform and community.

Josh Harlow: Piano, synth, electronics, composer, arranger
Jonathan Barahal Taylor: Drum set, percussion, synth arrangements, composer, arranger, producer
Jaribu Shahid: Double bass, singing bowls, percussion
Peter Formanek: Tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, clarinet
Rafael Leafar: Bass clarinet, bass flute, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, electronics

1.01 - Teiku - Adir Hu Intro (1:18)
1.02 - Teiku - Adir Hu (7:41)
1.03 - Teiku - Adir Yivneh Rigalenu (8:07)
1.04 - Teiku - Ki Leh Noeh (6:53)
1.05 - Teiku - Psalm 136 (8:20)
1.06 - Teiku - U’V’Chen Amartem Zevach Peseykh (3:09)
1.07 - Teiku - Dayenu (6:51)
1.08 - Teiku - Psalm 113-114 (5:08)
1.09 - Teiku - Echad Mi Yodea (10:05)