Aris San (אריס סאן) – Hataklit Hashvii (Record Seven) [1974]

capa cópia

Israel. As one of the first lands to form after WWII, Der Jundesntaat it’s been sought after since the biblical Diaspora and theorized by Theodor Herzl from the late XIX century. Declared and recognized as a state in 1948/49 from Mandatory Palestine, this controversial maneuver suffered rejection from the Arab League and other organs linked to the Palestinian cause. The conflicts and tensions among the two, are one of the most iconic cases of intolerance and racism in our history!

The Israeli occupations (since 1967), armed conflicts and hatred shown by the parties, seem to be viewed with compliance eyes by the Western society.

50's Immigration
50’s Immigration

With the strong support and lobby from U.S. and England this young country in merely 10 years tripled your population to almost 3.5 million, much caused by the Aliyah (Jewish immigration) and an international immigration boom, turning a secluded society into a mixture of cultural/religious influences that arrived from Iraq, Russia, Tunisia, Yemen, Germany, Iran, Poland, Romania and many others.

Aris San arrived in 1957 seeking a place to show his electric abilities and in less than five years would become one of the greatest stars of Israel, the so-called King of Jaffa.

Let’s go yo our history:

Old Jaffa, Clock Tower
Old Jaffa, Clock Tower

Aristotelis Saisanas (January 19, 1940 – July 25, 1992) was born in Kalamata, Greece in an Orthodox family. With 8 years old they moved to Athens, where he completed his studies at the elementary school. With 11 years, won a young talent competition and at 16 began performing in taverns, singing and playing guitar. (!)

He moved to Israel when he was 17, where quickly became a local star singer. The early ’60s had started a Greek wave of popular (mostly laika based) music in Israel, nightclub related music with bouzouki originating from Athens and Thessaloniki.

Aris San, Moshe Oralevich & Moty Morad
Aris San, Moshe Oralevich & Moty Morad

Arianna nightclub in Jaffa, became Aris ‘headquarters’, even general Moyshe Dayan loved his music and helped him to legalize its affairs. His shows became very popular, not only ordinary people came to see him, but also politicians and the highest army officers. Thanks to his relations, Aris San got himself Israeli citizenship (almost impossible to obtain for a non-Jew) and his career was promptly rising.

In the mid-’60s, everyone was singing Aris’s hits, and by the end of the decade, he managed to sell more than 500,000 copies between singles and albums, starring film soundtracks, playing throughout the country (after the Six-Day War) and definitely shaped the Israeli rock sound. (!) What it seemed to be an unstoppable career, quickly changed when rumors that Aris was a spy and stories of a violent relationship with Aliza Azikri (pregnant at the time) began circulating. Plus his open defense to Zionism (sic) and straight relation with the military, formed a boiling cauldron.

Aris Trio
Aris Trio

He left Israel hurt, and set out to conquer America, fleeing to New York in late 1970. There, he even shaved his mustache and started to wear a wig and large glasses. (!)

After moving to New York, in 1972 he opened a famous club called the Siroco, which will quickly become a temple of the bourgeoisie. Its frequenters could be seen by Anthony Quinn, Telly Savalas, Melina Mercouri, Harry Belafonte and the mob boss Joe Gallo, (for whom Bob Dylan wrote the Joey in Desire Lp).

Gallo stuck with him, pushing it to the coke addiction; Aris became a rich man and enjoyed all the wealth and excitement that America of the ’70s and ’80s had to offer. With bad influences the sandcastle collapsed, he got involved with drug deals, local Mafiosi and was convicted for two years, in a drug possession charge.

Aris San & Louis Armstrong, Siroco, 1971
Aris San & Louis Armstrong, Siroco, 1971

Free from prison, his life dramatically changed. Suffering from paranoia and depression, he fled to Budapest, trying to revive his career. After a broken hand, he was hospitalized and died of a heart attack a few days later. Some claimed that the mob was involved, while others claim that he went underground. (RIP)

This curious tragic fact has retreated in the documentary The Mystery of Aris San (2007), directed by Dani Dothan and Dalia Mevorach, check it out!

Let’s go to our album:

Hataklit Hashvii or Record Seven is a true masterpiece, despite not having the MEGA hit Dam Dam (probably his famous song). What I consider the pinnacle of his career, letting the romantic / beat side far away, Aris’s band (drums, bass, guitar, and keyboards), also got sax and flute passages, female choir and light fuzz.

Magazine
Magazine

Singing in Greek and Hebrew (in previous albums he also sang in Spanish), his music got the perfect blend between the uptempo positive Laika style and the harmonic/melodic minor key influences from the East. Added to this, his superb technique in Guitar/Bouzouki timbre, smiling figure and behaved persona, distant from the rebellious western rock bands, made Israel embraced him as one of them.

The ‘IM’ highlights are Im Etn Ani Lach Mi and Den Katalaveno Tipota.

Geras Kelionė!

Tracks Include:

A1 Afilotimi (Hatzinasios)

A2 To Palikari (Aris San)

A3 Gam Hapa’am (Folklore)

A4 Dipli Zoy Diplos Kaymos (Aris San)

A5 Im Eyn Ani Lach Mee (Aris San)

A6 Okutalyanos (Katsaros)

B1 Den Katalaveno Tipota (Kinoussis)

B2 Rak Bachalom (Kaniel)

B3 Katerina (Katsaros)

B4 Hakol Sh’karim (Aris San)

B5 Alou Esikialou (Aris San)

B6 Tou Andra Tou (Markopoulos)

Notes

A1, A2, A4, A6, B1, B3, B5, B6: Sung in Greek.

A3, A5, B2, B4: Sung in Hebrew.

CBS 65990

Tel-Aviv, Shoreline
Tel-Aviv, Shoreline

Tsvia Abarbanel – Soul of The East (1970)

Soul of The East
Soul of The East

Following our last post, we’ll continue in Israel. To show you a little forgotten 45 single, re-released by Fortuna Records. Established in 2012, this new label is aimed to reissue psychedelic nuggets printed in Israel, as well as Middle-Eastern grooves in general, although this time ain’t a Koliphone release. There are only two songs but I was really impressed with the fabulous crossover between east and west!

Let’s go to her history:

Born in Radda, South East Yemen in the late ’40s, Tsvia Abarbanel immigrated to Israel with her parents and settled in the north of the country. She was raised in a traditional Yemenite house where she learned the culture and traditions of Yemen.

She spent most of the youth as a Shepherdess looking after her family’s herd, during the long hours in the fields, Tsvia developed her singing skills, practicing traditional Yemenite chants, typical to the region of Radda. When she was 25 years old, she bravely left home to go and study Ethno-Musicology and Fine Arts at the Los Angeles University. The early hippie movement dominated the college halls and soon enough she started frequenting the LA club scene. It was by pure chance that she found herself at Watts, queuing for a Dinah Washington concert at the Kabuki Theatre.

Every night from midnight to 6, Tsvia, would flock to the Kabuki to get a glimpse of the biggest musicians of the time such as Ramsey Lewis, Ray Charles and more!

70's Portrait
70’s Portrait

This community-only event drew her deep into the sounds of soul and jazz, inspiring Tsvia to give her own musical background a totally new interpretation. Before even recording her first song, she started performing throughout the west coast, in big venues such as the Hollywood Bowl & The Cow Palace in San Francisco, showcasing her unique brew of traditional Yemenite singing and western jazz rhythms.

A beautiful 26 years old Yemenite girl was an odd sight in the Afro-American music scene of LA in the mid-’60s. She looked different, she sounded different, but her musical talent was so explosive she was immediately embraced by local musicians!

Let’s go to our record:

Returning to Israel in 1970, Tsvia started working on her debut album with a prominent Tel Aviv jazz band called Piamenta’s Guys. Led by Albert Piamenta, musician and arranger, who introduced funk and western elements into traditional Israeli songs, the result was one of the most magical recordings to ever come out of the region. However, the Israeli record industry found it far too strange and of no commercial potential. (!) And so Tsvia and her husband released a limited 45, making this one of the most obscure and hard to find Israeli records ever.

Yemeni Lady
Yemeni Lady

The ‘IM’ highlights spare any comment: Yahalel Hawa, has an strong percussion pace and a sour folklore singing, assisted by this little cool jazz veil. A classy ethnic one! And Wings of Love, certainly a challenge to anyone who admires the frontiers from music, with a Yma Sumac’s intro, this jazzy soul got some horn attacks, organ, sax solos, heavy drums, and the always lively percussion, recalling us the strong geographical bond that Yemen has with Africa. Unluckily both sounds end up until 3 minutes, but the fusion stamp that Tsvia left are forevermore!

Our little Shepherdess, is still performing, writing and composing her own material, spreading Yemenite music in Israel to this day. Hyvää Matkaa!

Tracks include:

A Yahlel Hawa

B Wings of Love

Credits

  • Accompanied: Piamenta’s Guys
  • Mastered [Uncredited]: Beau Thomas
  • Producer: A. Piamenta, D. Abarbanel
  • Written: S. Shabazi

Notes

Licensed courtesy of Tsvia & David Abarbanel

Produced and recorded in Tel Aviv, 1970

(P) & (C) Fortuna Records 2012

Sana'a, Yemen
Sana’a, Yemen

Grazia (גרציה) – Grazia! (1978)

Koliphone Cover
Koliphone Cover

Israel. Jaffa in the late ’60s and early ’70s had an exciting and exotic sound to offer, where folk musicians performed live at its taverns seven nights a week. It was far from the mainstream hit-parade of swinging Tel-Aviv but close enough geographically to attract listeners from across the Tel-Aviv / Jaffa metropolis. The scene got bigger and wilder, as it embraced the Middle Eastern celebration style known as Hafla, involving heavy drinking, local food, and music of course.

Standing at the center of old Jaffa and its vibrant music scene was the record store and label, Koliphone Records. Owned by the Azoulay brothers, Koliphone tirelessly recorded these artists and sold their records to the growing masses. At first, they released mostly Greek and Turkish music, shortly followed by Yemenite, Moroccan and Hebrew records, showcasing the cultural melting pot of this ancient town.

Pradisiac Jaffa
Paradisiac Jaffa

The biggest and most influential artist of the time was Aris San. A singer and guitar virtuoso, San created the Israeli-Greek style and introduced the drums-bass-guitar rock combo to folk audiences. His fans thought they were listening to traditional bouzouki melodies, but in fact, San’s music was a lot heavier, strongly influenced by American surf, verging on the psychedelic. San’s huge popularity attracted many other artists to record the new style he had pioneered. Artists such as Trifonas, Levitros, Nino Nikolaidis and many more began to appear on Jaffa’s record stands. Among them was a young girl who sang in Turkish. Her name was Grazia Peretz (גרציה פרץ)!

Grazia was a wonder kid in the early ’70s. She started singing at the age of nine, performing at Turkish weddings and Mediterranean nightclubs, sharing a stage with Aris San and Trifonas. Soon, she became an in-demand act for events up and down the country, landing herself a weekly TV spot on the Channel 1 music segment!

Let’s go to our record:

Psych Portrait
Psych Portrait

For her 16th birthday, her father sent her to record a full-length Hafla style album at the Koliphone Studios. Marko Bachar, who was the label’s in-house producer, arranger, and keyboard player, was in charge of the project. Bachar had just sold his organ and bought a monophonic Moog synthesizer. Grazia wanted to break free from the conformities of Greek and Turkish folk music and introduce the early sounds of disco she and her peers were getting so much into.

When the album finally hit the shops it sold… nothing! Hard funk drums, pounding bass coupled with synth blips and psychedelic Turkish guitars, well… it was all a bit too much for the unsuspecting folk audience. At the age of 18, disheartened by the music industry and the undue touring environment she had to endure at such an early age, she stopped singing and never returned to the studio or the stage.

The ‘IM’ highlights unfold us a distinctive tinge from the east, beautifully sang in Turkish, with utmost moogsSoyle Beni, with an eerie sci-fi feel, this Israeli disco prog shows us the kind of sound that people used to dance, back on Jaffa nightclubs. And Rampi Rampi, an upbeat with broken pace, key winds solos, luscious chorus and the usual Arab/oriental scales with its minor harmonics. A Rocky feel at its best!

Chuyến đi Tốt!

Tracks include:

A1 Kemangi

A2 Soyle Beni

A3 Artik Sevmeyegegim

A4 Istemen

A5 Elveda Meyhanec

B1 Rampi Rampi

B2 Muhabbet

B3 Olmek Var

B4 Arkadas

B5 Gidis O Gidisse

Licensed courtesy of Azoulay Brothers.

Recorded in Jaffa, 1978.

Koliphone ‎– 46407

Reissue by ℗ & (C) Fortuna Records 2013.