New York, NY – Jewish Music Returns to Its Roots With New Album


    New York, NY – While much of current Jewish music seems to be incorporating many of the trends and techniques of today’s secular music, one of the biggest names in the Jewish music business is bringing back old school Jewish music with an album that fuses the feel of yesteryear with today’s rigorous musical standards.

    Sheya Mendlowitz, the man behind the HASC concert series, the Lipa Schmelczer mega-concert known as The Event, as well as numerous albums and other full scale productions, has resurrected some of the best loved songs in the annals of Jewish music and brought them to life with an all star team of musical talent, in an album titled Big Time Alter Heim – Then and Now.

    “I have been wanting to do this for a long time,” Mendlowitz told VIN News. “The idea was to bring back the hits that many of us grew up with, good material that has been around for a few hundred years up until now. So much of the current music doesn’t sound like what I know Jewish music to be and I wanted to bring that back.”

    Big Time Alter Heim features the voices of Mordechai Ben David, Lipa Schmelczer, Dovid Gabay, Shloime Gertner and the Mezamrim Choir, accompanied by acclaimed Israeli clarinetist Chilik Frank and the Freilach Orchestra. Produced and directed by Mendlowitz, with the assistance of associate producer Benny Taubenfeld of Sameach Music and arrangements by Suki Berry, the album features wedding, dance and march medleys and chupah selections, among others.

    Big Time Alter Heim made its official debut this morning on Nachum Segal’s JM in the AM distributor Sameach Music reports that the album will be available in stores today.

    Mendlowitz told VIN News to expect another musical surprise related to this album sometime next week.

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    1. Quote: “While much of current Jewish music seems to be incorporating many of the trends and techniques of today’s secular music…”

      I enjoy listening to the older music much more than the new stuff but our music has always sounded like the contemporary non-jewish stuff. Isn’t it true? Listen to any classic chassidishe music and you’ll find that the music has the same tempo and beat as all of the non-jewish stuff at the same times. The only difference is that we used to sound like Beethoven and Bach, and now we sound like Puff daddy and Rihanna.

    2. Let me get this straight.
      The big people in todays music industry who are the very same ones that some people accuse of being responsible for the sad state of Jewish music today (not an opinion that I share btw) – so these very same people are making “alter heim” music???

      What is alter heim music anyways? Jewish music influenced by the Russian/Polish/German style of the day of 100 – 400 years ago?

      Who are they fooling.

      Also a little unrelated to this article but it was brought up in the last music article about MBD. He blames “internet piracy” on his decision to stop recording. Never mind that the probable reason is that he’s just getting a little old in the tooth – The same reason why the newspaper industry is failing is why the physical media industry is failing. People are getting there content (mostly legally) from online. Why doesnt Aderet and Sameach sell ALL their albums on Itunes? Dont blame piracy. How many Jewish songs even exist on Frostwire/Limewire etc. – These file sharing sites barely exist anymore and people are afraid of even using them because of a rash of lawsuits lately. If the JM industry embrace Itunes Im sure sales will jump. Blaming piracy is a cheap shot

    3. Who doesn’t love Sheya Mendlowitz, but I think the logic here is a bit off. While some people do love the old stuff, there is no dont todays newest music is just as Jewish and just as good. (Omar Rabbi Akiva, Yaalili, Hentelach ….)

      Why can’t we have both?

    4. Its time to put an end to the useless debate over “old” versus “new” Jewish music. Our melodies from shul and newer melodies from various chassidus and EY have blended into a hybrid musical style. Today’s chazonim borrow from both their older predecessors and modern secular singers. Older guys such as MBD have decided to step down while still in their prime and pass the torch to younger singers such as Liap and Matisyahu. We are all better off by NOT trying to erect strict walls to define what constitutes yiddeshe music. There is room for all genre.

    5. What ??? you mean it wasn’t JUST a coincidence that the negunim for “keil udon” or “L’cho Dodi” of old sounded like waltzes, & marches etc……

      I’m shocked! really! LOL

    6. It seems to me that that the only non-derivative Jewish musical forms since Churban Bayis are chazonus and klezmer. Why don’t we listen to and perform klezmer music anymore?

    7. There is a concept of שירי עגבות, a direct reference by Chazal to the goyishe music that dominates the goyishe velt. There is no emotion behind it, even if there may be some artistic quality left. That is clearly proscribed. What was included in this category decades ago might be different today, but it is generally easy to recognize by the reaction that one has to a nigun. Much of the music market today is filled with goyishe music that has been paired to words of tehilim, etc. Some is actually enjoyable, but might well fall into the issur of Chazal. In Eretz Yisroel, there was a recent phase to create hashgochos for music. With some skepticism about who the mashgichim might be or how they would judge, the concept is quite reasonable.

      It would be wise for those making simchos to instruct the musician(s) to avoid such music. Why bring these influences of tum’ah into the foundation of a bayis ne’eman be’yisroel?

    8. I agree with #7. I think all Sephardic music sounds the same, but they probably feel that way about Vuz-Vuz music.

      (Still, to write a song with the words “rabosi mir velin bentschin” is kinda scrapping the bottom…)

      • So is hearing the most wonderful and mournful yiddeshe melody sung with the lyrics of “Ahvinii malkanii chananii va’ananii ki ain banuuu maasim”….for someone who grew up with modern ivrit, its like hearing chalk on a blackboard

        • Hillbilly Hebrew is still spoken by people pretending to live in the Alte Heim. They think it makes them sound like authentic yidden when the exact opposite is true.

    9. Most of “Jewish” music has been influenced by our non-Jewish neighbors. That is why Sefardic music has obvious Arab music showing through. And certain “klezmer” music was influenced by Ukrainian/Russian/ surroundings.

      In all our ventures (music, professions, lifestyle) we try to accentuate the good of what is around us and hopefully mitigate the influence of the bad things of our neighbors–good, bad, or whatever, it’s the reality.

      Compare versions of cholent/gefilte fish, etc of different Jewish backgrounds, you get the same.

      The only time you hear “authentic” Jewish music “might” be on Yomim Noro’im or certain niggunim from Sholosh Regolim which anecdotally go back to the Bayis.
      (eg, the more well known Adir Hu/Hodu tune for Pesach–no not Carlebach 🙂 )

    10. Interesting considering most chasidish nigunim from yesteryear are “goyish” marches. The traditional nigunim for z’miros are not from our circles. The traditional Yom Zeh M’Chubad nigun is a German bar song!

    11. There was never such a thing as original “Jewish Music.” All of Jewish music was taken from goiyishe musical developments throughout ages. Mizrahi melodies were influenced by Arabic, Eastern instruments and styles. Klzemer, Hassidic and all other “Jewish music” in Europe were influenced by secular musical developments of those times.
      Even the melody to Israel’s National Anthem Hatikva has been an adaptation of a Romanian folk song whose tune in the Minor scale traces back to generations of other composers and songs from Bedrich Smetana “Die Moldau” all the way back to original tune of 17th century Italian folk melody “La Montavana” that became popular all over Europe during Renaissance.

    12. There is no such thing as ‘Jewish’ music, the cuzari says we lost our music by the churban and all ‘Jewish’ music since then is just taken from the non-jews in who’s country we live in. Lets separate nostalgia for a time thats passed from religion, please.
      While on the subject, the nigunim we have for yomim noraim are quite old, they were composed by the Maharil who’s seffer of minhagim is the source of most of the ashkenazi minhaggim mentioned by the Ramma. The tune we all sing for Maoz tzur might also be quite ancient being that both sefardim and ashkenazim have the tune, so it might predate the split.


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