A haunting rendition of Lu Yehi by Yaron Herman and his trio

Israel is fertile ground for jazz.  I have covered some of the Israeli jazz scene in a previous post.

Yaron Herman

Yaron Herman is ירון הרמן‎ is a French-Israeli jazz pianist now living in Paris. After a few years of piano study, he attended the Boston, MA Berklee College of Music at age 19. He then moved to Paris, France, where he began his recording career at age 21.  He is inspired by such jazz legends as Keith JarrettPaul BleyLennie Tristano and Brad Mehldau – my favorites too!   His website can be found at http://yaronherman.com/ 

BBC’s Kevin LeGendre reviewed Herman’s Muse album, where Lu Yehi is featured, in 2009. “Melodically gifted as he is, Herman is no slouch as an improviser and a fleet, precise right hand unfurls a number of sparkling, at times Chick Corea-like statements in which the Spanish-Arabic flourish is strong.”

Herman’s cover of Lu Yehi follows the song’s haunting melody but introduces a jazzy dissonance that evokes the hurt, chaos and uncertainty of war.

Lu Yehi

The famous Israeli song LU YEHI – לוּ יְהִי  (May It Be) was written and composed by Naomi Shemer during the Yom Kippur War (1973).  Naomi also famously wrote “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav” (“Jerusalem of Gold”) in 1967 after Israel won the Six-Day War.  In “Lu Yehi”, Naomi Shemer hopes for a quick end to the war and for the safe return of IDF soldiers (“This is the end of the summer, the end of the road, let them come back.”)

Lyrics in Hebrew and English (from Hebrewsongs.com)

Od yesh mifras lavan ba’ofek
mul anan shachor kaved
Kol shenevakesh – Lu Yehi.

Ve’im bacholonot ha’erev
Or nerot hachag ro’ed –
Kol shenevakesh – Lu Yehi.

Lu Yehi, Lu Yehi, Ana, Lu Yehi
Kol shenevakesh – Lu Yehi.

Ma kol anot ani shomei’a
Kol shofar vekol tupim
Kol shenevakesh lu yehi

Lu tishama betoch kawl eileh
Gam tefila achat mipi
Kol shenevakesh lu yehi

Lu yehi…

Betoch sh’chuna ktana mutzelet
Bait kat im gag adom
Kol shenevakesh lu yehi

Zeh sof hakayitz, sof haderech
Ten lahem lashuv halom
Kol shenevakesh lu yehi

Lu yehi…

Ve’im pit’om yizrach mei’ofel
Al rosheinu or kochav
Kol shenevakesh lu yehi

Az ten shalva veten gam ko’ach
Lechol eileh shenohav
Koll shenevakesh – lu yehi

Lu yehi………

There is still a white sail on the horizon
Opposite a heavy black cloud
All that we ask for – may it be

And if in the evening windows
The light of the holiday candles flickers
All that we seek – may it be

May it be, may it be – Please – may it be
All that we seek – may it be.

What is the sound that I hear
The cry of the shofar and the sound of drums
All that we ask for – may it be

If only there can be heard within all this
One prayer from my lips also
All that we seek – may it be

May it be…

Within a small, shaded neighborhood
Is a small house with a red roof
All that we ask for, may it be

This is the end of summer, the end of the path
Allow them to return safely here
All that we seek, may it be

May it be…

And if suddenly, rising from the darkness
Over our heads, the light of a star shines
All that we ask for, may it be

Then grant tranquility and also grant strength
To all those we love
All that we seek, may it be

May it be…

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Morenica

Morenica  (Morenika or La Morena) is a favorite Sephardic wedding song that was likely composed before the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492.  The song was documented in 1625 in Gonzalo Correa’s book “Arte de la lengua castellana española” .  The song is a testament to the rich Jewish culture that existed in Spain before the Inquisition and the tradition that brought words and music to the modern era.

The sailors call me “dark one”; if they call me once more, I will go with them

The song, composed in so-called Judeo-spanish, is about a “dark girl”, a brunette whose skin has been darkened by the sun – in fact a poetic figure that is common to old Spanish poetry.  The song ends with “Morena a mi me llaman los marineros; Si otra vez me llaman, me voy yo con ellos. [The sailors call me “dark one”; if they call me once more, I will go with them”]. Some historians (Margit Frenk among others) believe that the song may be inspired by a similar dark girl mentioned in the Biblical “Song of Songs” (1:5).

The first video features 3s Amis, a world music group (Bruna Sardo – voice, Samuele Lorenzini – guitar, and Alberto de Grandis – drums). The second video features well-known Israeli bassist and composer Avishai Cohen.

References:

Frenk, Margit. (1987). Corpus de la lírica popular hispánica (Siglos XV a XVII). (Nos. 138-142). Madrid.
Weich-Shahak, S. (2006). En Buen Siman! Panorama del Repertorio Musical Sefaradi. Jerusalem: Pardes.
Ascher, Gloria J. (2001). Sephardic Songs, Proverbs, and Expressions: A Continuing Tradition”. Shofar: An Interdiscipliary Journal of Jewish Studies, 19,4: 25-39.

http://www.jewishfolksongs.com/en/jewish-folklore#morenica

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Morenika, they call me
my skin was pure white
from the fire of the summer sun
I am dark
Chorus:
Morenika
so very beautiful
in your eyes – a burning fire
my heart is all yours
Morenika , they call me
all those who go down to the sea
if again they call me
I will go with them again
Morenika, they call me
son to the ruling king
if he calls me again
I will follow him