Israel. Jaffa in the late 60’s and early 70’s 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.
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 70’s. 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:
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 unfolds us a distinctive tinge from east, beautifully sang in Turkish, with utmost moogs: Soyle 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!
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A2 Soyle Beni
A3 Artik Sevmeyegegim
A5 Elveda Meyhanec
B1 Rampi Rampi
B3 Olmek Var
B5 Gidis O Gidisse
Licensed courtesy of Azoulay Brothers.
Recorded in Jaffa, 1978.
Koliphone – 46407
Reissue by ℗ & (C) Fortuna Records 2013.