WJMF Sound Byte: Odessa/Havana via Post-Multicultural Toronto

In preparing a post about their upcoming June 7 concert at the Washington Jewish Music Festival, I came across an interesting statement on David Buchbinder’s Odessa/Havana website:

Odessa/Havana is also emblematic of what might be termed post-multicultural creation, something that is increasingly happening in Canada’s major urban centres as mature musicians from diverse musical and cultural backgrounds meet, collaborate and create new sounds that transcend countries and cultures of origin. It is no coincidence that Odessa/Havana was born in the musical ferment of downtown Toronto, where there is so much natural experimentation occurring, and where musicians and creators from many different backgrounds are coming together in an a staggering array of projects.

I was intrigued by the term post-multicultural which is apparently quite common north of the border. In a practical sense it defines the current period as following Canada’s legislative and constitutionalDavid Buchbinder and Odessa/Havana enshrinement of multiculturalism as a national value, which got its federal incarnation in the department of Multiculturalism and Citizenship. It is also interesting to note that the aforementioned department has since been folded into a larger Department of Canadian Heritage which subsequently received the dangling post-script of “and Status of Women.”

But clearly there is more at work in the meaning of this word. If multiculturalism in Canada’s cultural mosaic is an ideal of co-existence and a response to the American concept of the Melting Pot, then what does it mean to be post-multicultural? Does the fusion of Jewish and Cuban rhythms as in Odessa/Havana provide a kind of microcosm of the next steps a society can take from tolerance and co-existence to collaboration and mutual appreciation?

Perhaps that’s thinking of it in too high-minded a way. Perhaps it is better to listen to the clip below of Odessa/Havana’s Next One Rising and just appreciate the way two cultural traditions can come together to create something new without sacrificing their own unique identities. They’re not melting, but they’ve permeated the boundaries of the mosaic–I’m not sure what image that leads us to, but it sounds great.

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