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Jewish Journal

Onboard the RebbeSoul Train

by Gaby Wenig

September 19, 2002 | 8:00 pm

It's the fusion of world music, electronic tones, prayer samples, nature sounds and religious intensity that gives multi-instrumentalist RebbeSoul his edge in the world of contemporary Jewish music. His mystical sound is anti-"Hava Nagila," but unlike the sluggish dirges that characterize the Jewish music scene, he still manages to keep in touch with the traditional.

"I love recording davening," said RebbeSoul, aka Bruce Burger. "I happen to have a lot of 'Kaddish' sounds from Jewish communities in the Diaspora. I have 'Kaddish' that was recited at the grave of the Rambam at his Yarhzeit in Tiberias. I had an Ethiopian 'Kaddish,' a Persian one, a Sephardi one and a Yemenite. I take the samples and then I put a groove to it."

The eclectic collection of "Kaddishim" make up a track on RebbeSoul's new CD, "Change the World With A Sound." The album features mandolins, balalaikas (a Russian stringed instrument), darbukas (middle eastern percussion instrument) and riqs (Arabic tambourines) accompanied by electric guitars and keyboards. It features African American rappers singing along to niggunim (Chasidic melodies). "We kind of mix the electronic and the traditional, the modern and the ancient at the same time," RebbeSoul said.

RebbeSoul recently returned from a concert tour playing in Israeli towns ravaged by the conflict and has dedicated the CD to peace in the Middle East. "People think you get off the plane in Israel and you walk into a firefight," he said, "but they are still pushing on and living their lives. There is a sort of depression there. People feel hopeless. I spoke to a lot of victims, and I just wanted to show them I cared. The best thing I could think of doing for them was playing for them."

RebbeSoul's CD "Change The World With A Sound" will be released on Sept. 24 and available at Tower Records. For more information, visit www.rebbesoul.com .

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