Jewish Journal

Melding world’s sounds, Ben Ari seeks harmony

by Meredith Price

Posted on Jun. 12, 2008 at 2:33 pm

Mosh Ben Ari: Yah

He's been called the Israeli Bob Marley and the king of Israeli soul. Others claim that he may be the call to prayer that we've all been waiting for from the Middle East.

Known for putting on shows that are full of warmth and good energy, Mosh Ben Ari is a talented vocalist and musician committed to spreading positive images about Israel and peace to the rest of the world through music.

On stage, the talented troupe of musicians that accompany him often play everything from violins and cellos to trumpets and saxophones as well as the traditional drum and bass and guitar.

His influences range from Jimmy Hendrix to The Beatles, and he's a master at multiple string instruments, including the Indian sarod, the Persian tar, the Moroccan ginberi and the Turkish jumbush, as well as classical and acoustic guitar. He sings in Hebrew, and his upbeat, catchy rhythms never fail to get audiences moving.

This summer, the well-known and popular Israeli musician with dark good looks and long dreadlocks is revving up for his first solo tour through the United States and Canada. Ben Ari will perform in Los Angeles on Thursday, June 26 at the Wilshire Theater with Rocky Dawuni & the Revelation Project.

"The most important thing about leaving Israel is that I'm going to bring the world a fresh sound and spread the word that Israel doesn't start and finish with politics," Ben Ari said. "There's a big world here, a big multicultural world that people don't see on the news."

Born in 1970, Ben Ari started his musical career at 16 and is known for blending a vast array of musical sounds that he classifies as world music. Rooted in the traditional Jewish and ethnic chants he heard at home in Afula, his music is a fusion of reggae, hip-hop, soul and string instruments.

"My mother is Russian and Yemen and my father is Iraqi, and my music reflects the huge mix I got at home," he said.

The groove of James Brown is incorporated with the Eastern sounds that Ben Ari discovered on his travels through India, the Sahara and the Sinai Desert, where he jammed with Bedouins who play string instruments around a blazing fire beneath the stars outside of small cabanas on the beach.

In 1997, the group Sheva was founded and Ben Ari performed with the band, whose name means "seven" in Hebrew. The group released four albums and went on numerous world tours to great acclaim. Since that time, Ben Ari has also released four solo albums -- all produced by Globalev World of Music.

"My music mixes Eastern with Jamaican reggae and funk and African beats," Ben Ari said. "It's all about the positive vibe."

In 2001, his debut solo album, "Ad Elai" (Until Me) was released. It took a close look at daily life in Israel. His second album, "Derech" (Path) came out in 2004 and was a follow-up to his first release. Path took a year and a half to complete, and Ben Ari, who also writes and composes his songs, says he spent every free moment in the recording studio working on the musical composition. That album fuses African beats, lively reggae, and Cuban rhythms with a touch of hip-hop.

After its release in 2006, his third album, "Massa Umatan" (Go Giving), became a best-selling Israeli album, firmly establishing his solo career as a songwriter, composer and performer. In 2007, he released a live album recorded in October 2006 in Tel Aviv featuring songs from his three solo albums and special guests Berry Sakharof, Din Din Aviv, Fools of Prophecy, Muki and Piloni.

Last year, he was chosen to lead the Israel Non-Stop Music Festival in Manhattan, a six-day event hosted by a different Israeli musician every year.

Rocky Dawuni & the Revelation Project will open for Ben Ari at the Wilshire Theater. A popular Ghanian musician known for his progressive blend of reggae, traditional African beats and hip-hop, Dawuni is also an activist in his native Africa and promotes awareness of AIDS.

Dawuni's latest album, "Book of Changes" has led to hits like "Jammin' Nation" and "Wake the Town." A few of his tracks have been licensed to popular television series hits like "Weeds" and "ER," so you may have already heard them even if you aren't familiar with the name.

Aside from promoting peace through music, Ben Ari is also involved with Save the Dead Sea, an environmental project in Israel. He is participating in the campaign that brings artists together to record a song that will be aired on Channel 2 in Israel in order to try and raise awareness that the salt lake is quickly drying up.

"I'm a small messenger, and I'm not interested in having a dialogue about politics," Ben Ari said. "It's all about spreading positive energy through the music and sharing the idea that there are simple people in Israel who are enjoying their life."

For tickets or more information, call (323) 655-011.

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