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Yonatan Miller
Inspiring interpretation of Klezmer tunes colored by the experiences of a lifetime.
Price: $12.98
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Yonatan Miller's Discography with Invincible Music

Yonatan (Jonathan) Miller, born in London, England in 1959, son of a Rabbi, grew up in New York City from age 2 studying classical violin (Blanche Levy, Yuval Waldman, Robert Cannetti, Peter Marsh) for 13 years as well as some recorder lessons earlier on and a few years of clarinet (Jane Hamborsky). All this in addition to the finest educatoin New York public schools had to offer in the '70s and Hebrew and religious school studies.

Here is a bio I use nowadays
Yonatan Miller grew up studying classical violin and “converted” to folk, rock, blues, pop and country in the late 70’s while at college in the USA. He made his mark on the Israeli pop scene in the early 80's in the band "Like a Gypsy" (Kmo Tsoani) and the popular children’s TV show "Hopa Hey". In addition he was a charter member of the country/Irish/folk ensemble "The Jerusalem Taverners" which performed throughout Israel during the 80's and 90's reappearing at the Jacobs Ladder folk festival for a special reunion in 2007. He appeared on TV and stage and performed with numerous other Israeli artists, also playing mandolin, clarinet, pennywhistle, harmonica and more.
In 2003 he returned to the USA to live and perform. After living briefly in New Jersey he was part of the creation of Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo and spent 15 months touring North America.
He has been in Arizona since 2006 and has appeared in the Arizona Jewish Theater production of “Vilna’s got a Golem” also recording and performing with many valley bands playing jazz, rock, country, Irish, Israeli, Greek, religious music and more!

You can see many of my Israeli exploits as a TV star and rabble-rouser
on youtube.com/yonatanmiller1
and you can hear some musical sampls at
www.myspace.com/yonatanmiller and also
www.myspace.com/thephoenixstringtrio

The inspiration for this CD came when i bought myself a small 8-track recording device and my wife and kids went to visit her family in Israel in the winter of 2009
I had found the music, a couple of years ago amongst the piles of stuff i have collected and saved over the years. "13 Judische Volkswiesen" annotated by a fairly well know Klezmer player,composer, cellist Joachim Stutschkevsky. He can be easily searched online and he actually has a foundation in Israel. If you would like a copy of the tunes please email me at yonatanmiller@hotmail.com and i can send you a copy.

These tunes being folk tunes, public domain, i took advantage of the fact that i was living alone in an empty house, temporarily, and by January 2010 I had finished most of the project. I simply went through the list of songs, in no particular order, recorded a line here. Chose a different instrument for this or that one. Found a line I liked and went through the piece adding harmonies. Making a chorus of countless mandolins, a horn section of clarinets. It was a tag team match of the tunes and my memories versus my wits and imagination, I ploughed through the month and a half recording in my garage during every spare waking moment.

Liv Khalsa Singh of Invincible Records, that i had done some work for previously agreed to help me mix the thing so i transferred all the tracks to him and we went to work, taking eventually about six months and about 80+ hours of hard work working on equalizations etc... An accidental installment of new software during the project forced us to change all of the effect presets, but that turned out for the better and Liv's wonderful creative use of his studio and equipment helped me realize a dream and i am forever grateful.

Being able to realize this dream of producing a musical project entirely my own has been a cathartic experience and hopefully only the first step on the way to more
similar (or not) projects and I hope soon to embark on another one. Its a feeling like if i were to die tomorrow I would have a legacy that is personal and uniquely
my own. Something that could live on. I have been part of many recordings but never one that I did entirely on my own and played every track.
It was a dream and now a reality.

If you hear this music you hear thousands of years of Jewish History but you also hear the history of music and human emotions. No one religion holds the true truth, but only a version of it. Being Jewish has its unique experiences that you share with so many alive and so many that have lived. And it echoes humanity.
You also get a view of what is going on inside my head, heart and soul. This is not a pure klezmer album by any stretch. I did not feel bound to any musical style
while i was recording this. I took the notes of the tunes, played them through and took it from there.
Each and every idea and concept in this album was born of its own accord and the arrangements "made themselves".

While i was recording i came up with the name Klezmo-Cowboy Folk/Jazz to describe this new eclectic style.
The main thing about folk music or jazz, which is a form of folk music, is that you can play the same song and have it come out differently each time.
Its a living form of music and can be practiced on every form of music with the right instruments and the right inspiration.
As i sifted through the tunes i went with my gut feeling (Stephen Colbert would be proud) laying down multiple layers of sounds of the various instruments i command. Hearing a phrase here and there that i liked, i would add tracks to accentuate those parts layering single instruments and having them appear at different places in the mix.
I wanted it so sound like there was a live band playing in front of you, perhaps on a hillside, or farther away...

Working alone in your garage you can come up with some wonderful subtle touches by multi-tracking re-recording bits and erasing others. I had a lot of fun and I am totally satisfied with the result. It is me. It is a reflection of me and my life and everything that I have done up until now. Who knows what the future has in store?

My inspiration to do this project was also based on my life for two special albums. Chick Corea had a wonderful album (one of my all time favorite albums) My Spanish Heart which showed his own heritage through the music he played. Paul McCartney recorded a wonderful album after he left the beatles recording all the tracks himself. I had always wanted to have my own version of those.
So now I have my own "My Jewish Heart" but in the end i called it Jewish Soul
and now I have my own RAM, having played everything by myself.

There were some people that i had offered to come over and lay down tracks but in the end
as it worked out, its all me and I am extremely satisfied with this work, its a little peek into my own soul, and heart
And the soul of a wandering jew that feels at home anywhere and everywhere
with a fiddle in his hand and a beer in his mug

A famous Jewish song says that the main thing in life is not to be afraid

But I say that the main thing is to smile , be happy, make the most out of what you have and go from there...

THE MUSIC ITSELF

the pieces were numbered 1-13 and there were no names for the tunes given
so i don't know what the pieces are actually called

I also i added the bonus track that i had recorded years
ago using a TASCAM four track on cassette !! but it was my Kol Nidrey Blues and I am glad to include that
song after the version of Stutschevsky's take on Kol Nidre, the Holy Jewish prayer.

So the entire process the numbers were simply 1-13 and then at the very end i decided i didn't like the way they sounded in order so i flipped them from 12 counting down to 1 and then 13 at the end and liked the way they sounded in that order

Just for CD baby since i didn't know the actual names of the tunes i had some fun and made up some cute names
but it was just for this process that i did that and without a lot of thought - hope they came out okay !
just improvised like my music, (and life)

THE INSTRUMENTS
The instruments that I play on the CD in order of appearance are

Violin (my violin was made by Israel Schmidt, an Israeli luthier
who helped me out for over 20 years with all my repairs and stuff)
Mandolin (Kentucky Mandolin)
Acoustic Guitar (Takemine)
GEM WS-2 Keyboard/Workstation for some keyboard and other type sounds
(I actually traded a baby grand for that and have had it a long time)
Recorders (soprano alto tenor)
Pennywhistle
Harmonica
Mandolin-Banjo (something italian)
vocals
Clarinet (Cavalier metal marching band clarinet with glass mouthpiece and #2 reeds)
Tambourine
Drum Samples
Jaw Harp
Electric Violin (Zeta Strados 5-string)
Bongo
Guiro
Thai Bell
Darbuka
Shaker

On the bonus track I am playing another electric violin i had - some cheap japanese thing that looked like a stick with strings on it - but it looked cool and i actually liked that thing - and a lovely hollow body epiphone electric mandolin that i had purchased at Mandolin Brothers in Staten Island NY (and was stolen from the Penny Lane club in Jerusalem during the Sukkot Holiday in 1983 and it still hurts me to think about it), a funky Hagstrom electric guitar and an even funkier hollow body acoustic/electric bass

Please enjoy and please spread the word

I hope to get to work on futher projects in the not too distant future

Thank you for reading and listening

I am dedicating this project io the memory of four great musicians and people that I had the honor to work with.
Their music and spirits live on. May they be of blessed memory.

Erik Eisen was a talented harmonica player that played in our "progressive bluegrass" band Old no. 7 back at SUNY Binghamton in the late 70's (a great time to have been a college student).
Dave Gould was from Liverpool England and had emigrated to Israel and played the double bass banjo and dobro among many other talents.
David Deckelbaum was from Canado and also made it to the Jerusalem folk scene of the late seventies playing banjo and autoharp and singing like nobody else and a dentist to boot.
Dave and David were members of The Jerusalem Taverners (myspace.com/jerusalemtaverners) and our album UP YOURS! is available on CD baby
Uzi Chitman "discovered me" and together with Yigal Bashan we spent six years entertaining and filming the TV show Hoppa Hey during the late 80's. You can see clips on youtube.com/yonatanmiller1.

Yonatan

March 31, 2011

MORE STUFF:

My friend Rahel interviewed me for this project and to celebrate its release
You can scroll down this page on her radio show's website to hear the interview:
http://www.israelisrealnh.com/archive-6-april-8---may-20-2011.html



 

 

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