By Bob C. Young
Idan Raichel joined the military and found peace.
That solace moved him to make music that celebrates an Israel unknown to much of the world: a melting pot of nationalities, cultures and musical ideas.
“Serving in the Israeli army, which is a duty, I was lucky to be a musician,” said Raichel on the phone from his home in Tel Aviv… “[The army is] filled with immigrants from all over,” he said, “from Iraq, Ethiopia, Eastern Europe, Morocco, everywhere. We are all Israeli by definition, but we keep our roots.”
Raichel has been blending his countrymen’s varied backgrounds in his music ever since. After a stint as a counselor for new immigrants who turned him on to Ethiopian pop, the keyboard player and composer backed popular Israeli singers as a session musician before becoming a very different kind of bandleader.
His Idan Raichel Project, which has made him a pop star in Israel, features a changing cast of artists from around the globe who buy into its leader’s “we are the world” view of music.
On tour, Raichel’s troupe includes players from the Middle East, Africa and South America covering songs from the Project’s latest, “Within My Walls” (Cumbancha), which features singers Marta Gomez, a native of Colombia and former Bostonian, Mayra Andrade of Cape Verde, and Somi of Rwanda and Uganda. (more)