A lot of lip service gets paid to the historic alliance between African-Americans and Jews. The actual experience of that history is a lot more complicated. All it takes is something like the recent media circus surrounding Reverend Jeremiah Wright to remind us that tensions below the surface can come gurgling to the surface with an intensity that evokes strong reactions and escalating rhetoric. By the time the shouting dies down, the gulf of misunderstanding has grown that much wider.
Enter The Afro-Semitic Experience on June 5th as part of the Washington Jewish Music Festival to narrow that gulf, if only a little. Led for nearly a decade by Warren Byrd and David Chevan, TASE not only talks the talk, but walks the walk by responding to racism and anti-Semitism with its unique fusion of Gospel, Klezmer, Jazz, Niggunim, Spirituals, Swing and straight-up Funk. Granted, the premise seems tailor-made to produce cheap warm fuzzies of racial tolerance–but TASE brings the chops that imbues their polyglot sound with artistic validity that is impossible to deny.
The only way to become a believer is to take a listen for yourself. The track below is “Nefesh” from This Is the Afro-Semitic Experience.
Tickets are on sale May 1 for the Washington Jewish Music Festival. The Festival begins June 1 with the Capital Celebration of Israel @ 60 on the National Mall featuring Regina Spektor, Mandy Patinkin and Mashina.