Shlomo in the House; Moshav Band at UH

BY DANIEL DURCHHOLZ, SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

One of my stated goals for this column was to use it as a means to spotlight musicians who are using their talents as a means of enhancing and giving back to the community that has in turn enriched their lives…and who are making some seriously great music, at the same time.

One such person is Shlomo Ovadya, a bassist, percussionist and classical guitarist. He can be heard playing at St. Louis venues such as Atomic Cowboy, the Delmar Lounge and Schlafly Bottleworks — and indeed, around the country — as a member of the jazz/funk group Teddy Presberg and the Red Note Revivalists. He is also a member of Ottoman Underground, which plays klezmer and other forms of Eastern European and Middle Eastern types of music.

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And he can be heard playing at Congregation Neve Shalom, behind Rabbi James Stone Goodman, whom Ovadya regards as “the most essential Jewish musician in St. Louis.”

Ovadya studied music as well as math and chemistry at Webster University. “I graduated with a math degree, but I kept playing music with the Rabbi and at some point started learning jazz and funk on bass,” he says. “I’ve been playing bass for a little over three years, and for two of those years, I’ve been playing with Teddy. We’ve been going around the country doing our really fun sort of magical thing.”

Last summer, the band did a West Coast tour, traveling through Colorado and the Southwest, up the coast and then back. “We played 20 different cities in 30 days,” he says. “We climbed mountains and swam rivers and drank beer.”

The group has recorded a pair of albums, the latest of which is titled “Outcries from a Sea of Red.” Presberg calls his music “psychedelic jazz for dancers and lovers of life.”

Ovadya is also part of Presberg’s company, Outright Music, which deals with music licensing and instruction, among other things. On his Facebook page, Ovadya’s lists his job description at Outright as “vibe master, bass guitar and instructor.”

“Education,” he says, “is one of my passions. When I was in university, I studied different ways of combining math and music for the purpose of optimizing teaching. That’s kind of the centerpiece for my teaching model.”

He also hopes to someday add yoga instruction to Outright’s offerings.

Playing with Rabbi Goodman at Neve Shalom – where Ovadya plays the doumbek, a North African hand drum – has added depth to his appreciation of Judaism.

“My family is not religious,” he says. “When I came to St. Louis to go to school was when I first found a religious community that I embraced on my own.” Neve Shalom “is a group of very deep and very creative, subtle people and the music we do is deeply spiritual. We’re attempting to bring angels and ancestors and the spirit of God into our mix and have our music serve as a vessel for that. It’s definitely not for fun and games, but it is fun. But it’s deep. It’s a deep dive.”

You can learn more about Ovadya by visiting http://www.outrightmusic.com/

UH welcomes Moshav Band for free concert

United Hebrew Congregation is presenting Israeli rock band Moshav Sunday, May 2 at 3:30 p.m. The trio – vocalist/percussionist Yehuda, guitarist Duvid and bassist Yosef – took their band name from Moshav Meor Modi’im, the Israeli settlement where they grew up. The trio has been making music since the 1980s and at the turn of the century relocated to Los Angeles. Playing a mix of alternative rock, Middle Eastern sounds and electronica, the band often features spiritually centered lyrics, but can also show a playful side. Amid original tunes such as “Heart Is Open,” “The Streets of Jerusalem” and “Abba Shimon” on their latest album, “Misplaced,” the band also takes on Tom Waits’ left-of-center tune “Jockey Full of Bourbon.”

The concert is free and open to the public.

Pulitzer Prize winning Israeli composer to visit

Pulitzer Prize winning composer Shulamit Ran will serve as guest composer for the Community Music School of Webster University’s Young Composers Competition, held May 15-16. Israeli native Ran, currently the Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Music at the University of Chicago, will meet personally with the competition’s winning composers and will conduct an open rehearsal and question and answer session prior to the May 15 concert of the winning composers. The rehearsal and concert are free and open to the public. Call 314-968-5939 for more information.