"It's the harmonies of Ravel and Debussy that attract jazz musicians," he said. "I once showed Dizzy Gillespie Ravel's 'Histoires naturelles' for voice and piano. He heard one passage and said, 'Oh, this will go well with Monk's 'Round Midnight.' From then on we had to play it with the Ravel chords."
There was a time when Jews dominated the ranks of American orchestras, and superstars like Leonard Bernstein and Isaac Stern were musical ambassadors to the world. The fact that today's master Jewish musicians tend to have proteges with names like Yo Yo Ma, Kyung-Wha Chung and Lang Lang is one hint that for many Jews, classical music is no longer a top priority.
Guitarist and composer Adam Del Monte has the musical sophistication and spiritual depth to explore Jewish mysticism beyond the trendy or superficial.
At Temple Congregation Ohabei Shalom in Nashville, Tenn., congregants newly trained in the ancient skill of shofar blowing sounded the ceremonial ram's horn for the first time this past Rosh Hashanah. It was the first time a lay member of the 150-year-old synagogue had blown the shofar.
"It was quite a pivotal moment" for the 800-family congregation, said its rabbi, Mark Schiftan.
Deeply rooted in classical Reform Judaism, the temple's services until recently were marked by choirs and English-only prayer. This Reform movement charter synagogue is undergoing upheaval, and it is not alone.