May 18, 2024
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May 18, 2024
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Englewood’s Heshy Rosenwasser Releases ‘Soul in Exile Redux’ Album

Heshy Rosenwasser, composer, musician proprietor of indie record label tHinc (pronounced think) released his latest album, “Soul in Exile Redux,” last week. The advance single, “Jersey Shore Baby,” preceded the album, hitting the market in November 2021.

“I don’t rap and I don’t do electronic dance music,” said “the Hesh Meister,” tapping his online moniker. Since 1999 the singer-songwriter-keyboardist, assisted by a revolving-door cast of characters, has been composing and performing music about exile, redemption, self-actualization and “beach towns in the off-season.”

“Soul in Exile Redux” is a rock album by an artist who still believes in the power of rock ’n’ roll. According to its website description this album is “the keystone release of Rosenwasser’s magnum opus,” and aspires to present his music to newer and wider audiences who may be thirsting for new releases of this retro style of music. To date he has released five albums of original music, while also lending his keyboard and vocal talents to various artists in other genres including blues/soul, reggae, disco and the multiple genres of Jewish music. The Hesh Meister has always considered the Jersey Shore his spiritual and creative center, and has also performed in New York, the mid-Atlantic area, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

Rosenwasser began his career in music during high school in Kiryat Moshe. Emil Leuchter of “the hippie generation” lived two doors from his yeshiva campus in Jerusalem. Leuchter was a music therapist at a school for blind children, struggling to make ends meet, but always welcomed Rosenwasser into his home.

On many Friday mornings, Rosenwasser would hear Leuchter’s electric guitar and head over to find him sitting in the sun, playing. Leuchter would then “fire up” his electric piano and they would start jamming. Hearing their music wafting through the air, other local musicians and vocalists would gravitate to them. The next thing you knew, Rosenwasser said, “There’d be a whole erev-Shabbos jam session going on! I learned everything there was to know about bands from Emil, and my knowledge of music expanded exponentially because of him. But if I could sum up [his message], it [is] OK to play rock ’n’ roll music and still be a committed, observant Jew.”

Regarding maintaining his rock style in the current music environment that demands the sophistication of technology and a contemporary sound, The Hesh Meister said: “I have kept true to my style, basically that of a rock ’n’ roll singer-songwriter, fused with blues, soul, reggae, and Jewish/Israeli music. So I’d clearly fall into the ‘retro’ category; it’s my style and I take pride in it.”

However, he has also advanced in the use of digital recording and mixing technology, while maintaining the integrity of his style. In fact, he said, “The very name of the studio where I like to record in Red Bank, New Jersey, is called Retromedia Sound. I like Retromedia because classic and vintage instruments and recording [media] are augmented by the best in digital technology. So I [and listeners] get the best of both worlds.”

The Hesh Meister elaborated on how the creative process works for him.

“There are two main components: my songwriting notebook, and the little snippets of melody that come to me when I’m halfway between being asleep and awake. I collect what I call ‘throwaway lines’ throughout the course of a day, and compile these lines on my cell phone, or a napkin if I’m in a restaurant, or a scratch pad. Then I consolidate these lines in my songwriting notebook, where it becomes a source of lyrics.

“With the musical snippets, that’s a little tougher, because I need enough presence of mind to be able to reach for my cell phone and sing these melodies into the voice recorder. I don’t always manage to do that, and I have lost some killer song ideas that way.

“I take these elements and just noodle on the piano while singing or mumbling them, and with enough repetition, they become songs,” he continued. “Once in a while, a song will come to me fully formed and I have to get up and play it on the piano. … Of course, when it’s Shabbos, it’s a big problem, and ideas often do come on Shabbos. When that happens, I have a tough choice: either keep singing them until Shabbos is over, or forget.”

Heshy related how his tune “What Make Dis Night,” a reggae version of “Ma Nishtana,” ended up as the music used in the rolling credits for the movie “When Do We Eat,” starring Jack Klugman and Leslie Warren. After settling into his new place in Los Angeles in 2003, “I sent an email out to everyone in my address book with my new contact information. Within minutes, I got a reply from Stuart Wax, who was something of a ‘macher’ in the LA music scene, and he asked me to send him something that I had been working on. I sent him a CD with several Pesach-themed songs. After several weeks I called to ask if he had heard the songs. He said, ‘Oh, I didn’t tell you? That reggae version of ‘Ma Nishtana’ is going to be in a movie with Jack Klugman and Lesley-Ann Warren!” which came out in 2006.

Focusing on “Soul in Exile Redux,” Rosenwasser described his series of albums with the expression “Soul in Exile” in the titles, recorded and released during the late 1990s. Components of a greater whole, he refers to this album as “a semi-autobiographical musical stab at the ‘Great American Novel,’ told from the perspective of someone who has lived in many places, sometimes not by choice, and trying to find part of the world to make his own.”

The album is a remix and remaster of nine of the songs from previously released albums, designed to re-introduce the concept to newer, more diverse audiences. “It features musicians that I have jammed with, gigged with, or hung out with from various phases of my musical journey, like drummer Izzy Kieffer, who went to that same school in Israel where we met Emil. And it absolutely rocks!”

“Soul in Exile Redux” was released on January 28, and is available via all the major online streaming and downloading sites, as well as in good old-fashioned CD format, directly from Rosenwasser’s website,

By Ellie Wolf


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