My musically sophisticated Orthodox friends often tell me that they are not interested in Jewish music. It’s not hard to see why. If you take the material produced by the Orthodox pop industry, it’s often just the frum equivalent of Justin Timberlake, or over-produced boys choirs backed up by obnoxious electronics and phony string arrangements.
The tragedy is, that underneath the schmaltz there are sometimes very beautiful melodies. These are often best appreciated in situ, as it were — at a Hasidic tisch or other religious celebration. In many cases, however, it is easy to hear the potential such pieces could have in the hands of truly creative artists.
Here at the Forward, artist-in-residence Jeremiah Lockwood has been doing exactly that kind of work with The Nigun Project, taking traditional melodies and casting them in innovative musical settings. Binyomin Ginzberg, the keyboardist, vocalist, vibrandoneon virtuoso and leader of the Breslov Bar Band, has mined similar territory on his new album, “Have No Fear,” which was launched last night at Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory.