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Dig this: April 30 is the first-ever International Jazz Day. A partnership between UNESCO, the Thelonius Monk Institute and jazz legend Herbie Hancock (pictured), the event hopes to make this a day of celebrating jazz around the world. The Milken Archive suggests doing your part with a listen of Jonathan Klein’s Hear O Israel A Sabbath Service in Jazz -- a work that explores the musical and spiritual affinities between jazz and cantorial improvisation. Composed in 1966, Hear O Israel was recorded the following year by an all-star group that included Hancock himself, as well as other jazz greats Ron Carter and Grady Tate. The Milken Archive’s 1992 recording retains several of the star trio’s best performances (check out the opening solo on Sh’ma yisrael), overlaid by new tracks that incorporate the composer’s revisions to the piece. Then, explore more Jazz-influenced Jewish liturgical music by the likes of Dave Brubeck, Kurt Weill, and Gershon Kingsley in the Milken Archive’s Volume 15. (Photo credit: Guillaume Laurent)
Last week, we celebrated the anniversary of Israel’s independence. This week, we can celebrate one of the people who helped get them there. Theodor Herzl, who is pictured here, is the father of Zionism and was born May 2, 1860. To commemorate his quest for a Jewish homeland, the Milken Archive looks at composer Herbert Fromm’s The Pioneers. When the famous conductor Arthur Fiedler invited Fromm to compose a work for the Boston Pops Orchestra in 1971, Fromm chose to create this brief musical depiction of the resettling and rebuilding of the Land of Israel. The piece--whose title is a programmatic reference to the early Zionist pioneer-settlers--is based on the well-known Pioneer (Ḥalutz) song Na’ale l’artzenu b’rina (We Will Go Up to Our Land with Joy), the melody of which will ring familiar to many.
Theodor Herzl’s message might have paved the way for Herbert Fromm’s The Pioneers, but the piece might never have been written if cantor-composer Hugo Chaim Adler hadn’t encouraged Fromm (pictured) to explore Jewish music. Adler’s son, composer Samuel Adler recounts this story and more -- he also credits Fromm for influencing his own synagogue music -- in a Milken Archive-exclusive oral history video. Watch the video.