I was listening to my local NPR station (WHYY in Philadelphia) this evening and heard a remarkable interview with Jeremiah Lockwood who fronts the band The Sway Machinery. Based in Brooklyn, New York, it takes traditional Jewish cantorial music (chanted in synagogue by a song leader known as a cantor) and sets it to rhythms that reach to the heavens. At turns, funky, soulful, mesmerizing; the music speaks in a universal language. Lockwood comes by his musical chops naturally. His grandfather was Cantor Jacob Konigsberg. He shared in the interview that his grandfather’s presence remains with him when he composes and performs.
Perhaps his grandfather had some influence in the band getting booked to play at the Festival of the Desert in Timbuktu, Mali. What makes it such a powerful event, was that it offered them an opportunity to bridge the world’s of Judaism and Islam, since Mali is a predominantly Muslim country. When he found to be a commonality, was a reverence for family tradition and influence. While there, they collaborated with Malian artist Khaira Arby, the proclaimed “queen of desert music. Her deeply resonating voice can be heard on his new album, The House of Friendly Ghosts, Vol. I, so called because he indicated that there was so much music, that a Vol. 2 was in the offing.
www.clashtalk.com/celebrities/274450/The-Sway-Machinery:-Finding-Inspiration-In-The-Desert click on this link and then click on npr.org for the interview and music samplings.