July 17, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Teaneck’s David Bockman Releases Jewish Jazz CD

A project that began with a Kickstarter campaign three years ago has finally come to fruition with the recent release of Rabbi David Bockman’s “Kind of Blue and White,” a Jewish jazz CD. Originally promoted on Kickstarter as “Rabbi invades studio to record ‘Contours of Shabbat,’” Bockman finally fulfilled his pledge to those who backed the project by sending them the completed CD, which is also now available at Judaica House; online from CD Baby, Amazon.com and iTunes and can be borrowed from the library in Teaneck, Bergenfield and Englewood.

Although his name is on the album, the result is a collaborative effort with many musicians—Jewish and otherwise—from Northern New Jersey and New York, among them Grammy winners and touring musicians. Since moving to the area in 2005 to head the Conservative shul in Bergenfield, which has subsequently merged with Teaneck’s Congregation Beth Sholom, Rabbi Bockman has become actively involved in the local music scene, mostly attending jam sessions of blues, jazz, funk, pop-rock and R&B, where not everybody knew how to incorporate a kippah-wearing trumpet player into, say, a Jimi Hendrix or Beatles set.

Working with Paterson guitar legend Charlie Jones, however, the rabbi developed a sound that is both familiar and fresh, utilizing traditional davening melodies and words with new arrangements that he hopes will appeal to a broad range of listeners. Even non-Jews have been very enthusiastic about the music on this album (mostly in Hebrew, of course), an eclectic mix that features Bockman’s trumpet and flugelhorn in ensembles of various sizes and formats. “My background in leading davening for my shuls over the years has definitely helped me in interpreting these songs, but my hope is that knowledgable Jewish listeners will hear on this CD new ways to approach tefillot with which they are so familiar they may not even have any kavanna any longer. It’s a way to re-awaken this material for them.”

Incorporating Brazilian jazz-pop (Yedid Nefesh) and a swampy blues style he picked up while leading congregation Chevra Thilim in New Orleans (Ata Echad), as well as straight-ahead jazz numbers (Vayechulu and Oseh Shalom) and a Beatles tune (Ein Kelokeynu), the album concludes with its only non-prayer moment (Yerushalayim shel Zahav), which helps to cement the material on the rest of the album with the idea that what had once been abandoned can be reawakened into glorious life, because “you see it’s all clear, we were meant to be here from the beginning.”

Rabbi Bockman currently leads a congregation in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey and sings with the Tavim a cappella group at Congregation Beth Sholom in Teaneck.

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