The month preceding the High Holidays is a time of preparation and is called Elul.
Marking all of this, we feature something of a Jewish theme today here at Stubby's. Check the previews page for the latest effort from Meshugga Beach Party, "Hot Rod Hanukkah" and you'll find the lead item on the Free List today is another Hanukkah disc. But there's another album that I wanted to feature here that relates directly to the month of Elul.
It is customary in the tradition of many Jewish people to begin each morning of Elul with a special prayer or recitation before sunrise. These are generally prayers of penitence or lessons of repentance. In recent years, Craig Taubman (maker of a great reservoir of Chanukah music and music for other Jewish occasions) has offered daily "Jewels Of Elul". This will be the 7th year for the "Jewels of Elul" and you can sign up free to have these jewels delivered directly to your inbox beginning August 30.
Additionally, this year, Taubman's label--Craig N Company--will release the album "Jewels, Volume 1". So far, it appears this will be a digital-only release. Some, but not all, of the tracks are previously released.
1. Avraham......Basya Schechter
2. L'Dor Vador......Josh Nelson
3. Hayom......Naomi Less
4. B'rosh Hashana......Craig Taubman with Alberto Mizrah
5. L'Dor Vador......Craig Taubman
6. Someday......Michelle Citrin
7. V'al Kulam......Craig Taubman
8. Shema Coaleinu......Saul Kaye
9. Eliyahu Hanavi......David Broza
10. Holy Ground......Craig Taubman
11. Home Tonight......Ari Herstand
12. Karev Tov......Mare Winningham
13. Im Ain Ani Li......Craig Taubman with Jared & Justin Stein
14. Rise Up......Craig Taubman & Rich Munchow
Finding more contemporary music appropriate for the month of Elul, for those of us not fluent in Hebrew, can be accomplished (or at least begun) by searching artists who regularly perform Jewish music and some of the song titles above. In doing so, you'd find that the late Debbie Friedman recorded several of these songs and that there are several contemporary versions of "B'rosh Hashanah" and "L'Dor Vador", including one of the latter by a cappella group Six13. In the process, you'd likely discover that there's a lot of wonderful music to be explored, here, regardless of any holiday involved. Saul Kaye, for example, is one of the best Blues artists I've heard and it matters not a bit that the focus of his recent work has been Jewish heritage. Melody Horowitz described Saul Kaye as "the Robert Johnson of Jewish Blues" and I find it hard to argue. I just wish he were more prolific.
I think some of the finest music being made today is in the genre of Judaica. And, in that regard, I would be remiss if I did not pay my respects to J*Dub records, which is sadly ceasing operations after nearly a decade. It is thanks to J*Dub that I discovered such artists as The Sway Machinery, Girls In Trouble, and The Macaroons. I am forever in their debt. For a sampling of some of the artists from the J*Dub stable, I heartily recommend "Jewltide", which was a Chanukah/Christmastime sampler (although it technically contains only one seasonal track).
"Jewels, Volume 1" is scheduled to be released August 29.