Ethiopian saxophonist Abate Berihon has formed an ensemble to fuse the tonality of Ethiopian music with the rhythm of jazz, all focused on expressing the yearning for Jerusalem that is a fundamental aspect of Ethiopian Judaism.
Berihon wrote the music to the songs in his "Song and Prayer" performance to the words of Sephardic piyut masters Yehuda Halevi and Shimon ibn Gavirol, as well as the words of Psalms. Berihon said he found in the words of Halevi ("My heart is in the West, yet I am in the farthest East") a profound expression of the yearning that Ethiopian Jews felt toward Jerusalem, and the way that all people feel when their souls yearn for a place where they truly feel at home.
It was this yearning that led many Ethiopian Jews to traverse the dangerous Sudan to find their way to Israel, with many perishing along the way. It was this yearning that led Berihon to abandon his music career in Ethiopia and make aliya. He worked as a dish washer and security guard before he was discovered by the Israeli music scene.
But starting in 2002, Berihon began to make connections with important producers, and since then he has appeared locally and internationally, using jazz as a language of innovation and communication to express the pining in his soul.
Berihon will be playing his signature saxophone, as well as singing, helped by Patego Moloko Yaakov. Accomplished jazz pianist Oleg Bogod and contrabassist Ora Boazson Horeb will accompany.
"Song and Prayer" will be playing Saturday at 9 p.m. at the Confederation House in Yemin Moshe, Jerusalem. Admission is NIS 65.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>