Professional musicians need to make sure their technical skills are shipshape before getting on the stage, but a simpatico relationship with your fellow performers can also help to push the class-act ante up a notch or two.
Keyboardist-singer songwriter Daniel Salomon and vocalist Dana Adini certainly have the requisite degree of shared empathy – you could even go so far as to say mutual affection.
Just over 10 years ago the two joined forces on the Rabot Hadrachim (Many a Road) album which spawned several hit singles.
The album went gold and Salomon and Adini became a couple off stage too. Their personal relationship lasted for just under two years but they remained on good terms when it came to an end, and that comes through both in their live performances and recorded material.
The proof of that pudding will be made readily available to the general public next month, when Daniel Salomon and Dana Adini – The Best, Live hits record stores and online sales facilities. The new record features a bunch of Salomon rearranged nuggets, including the aforementioned 2005 album title track, and other Rabot Hadrachim tracks “Ahava” (Love) and “Ein Kemo Haahava Shelach” (There’s Nothing Like Your Love). The live release also features more recent Salomon offerings, such as 2014 singles “Ahuvee” (My Love) and “Mul Hamarra” (In Front of the Mirror), and reworkings of Shmulik Krauss’s 1976 hit “Shuv” and “Lashir Itach/Itcha” (To Sing with You), originally performed in the 1980s by Boaz Sharabi and Shoshana Damari.
The idea for the Salomon-Adini reunion was sparked by a show they did together a couple of years ago, as part of the Piano Festival.
“We did a program of duets,” recalls Salomon.
“We decided we wouldn’t start from our own material, but that we’d choose other people’s songs we liked – duets – or other numbers which were not originally written for two singers but that we’d turn them into duets. When you make a song into a duet it suddenly takes on a different complexion. That’s fascinating.”
The Piano Festival excursion went suitably well, and Salomon and Adini chanced their arm.
“We enjoyed it, and the audience did too, so we did another show and then another,” explains the pianist. “We just kept going.”
A landmark element also came into the equation.
“The 10th anniversary of Rabot Hadrachim came by and we thought it would be good idea to do a ‘best of live’ album, to sort of mark that.”
Once the concept was conceived, Salomon really went for broke, complementing his cultured keyboard work with a ten-piece string section, double bass and drums, and The Best, Live came into being. He was also looking to complement the new arrangements with new energies.
“We decided to record the songs at concerts because there is a spirit to live performances that you just don’t get in the recording studio,” he notes. “I think that worked well, and it became an album.”
Much has been made of the erstwhile romantic backdrop to the Salomon-Adini synergy and, as mentioned above, they were a couple off the stage before they began to make music together. Salomon says that, today, they are in a healthy place on all fronts.
“Sometimes people meet, at a certain stage of life, in certain circumstances, and they become a couple but, after a while, they both come to the realization that being in a romantic relationship is just not right for them,” muses Salomon. “They discover that being friends and a musical couple is the right format for them.”
The pianist says he and Adini, who is in a long-term relationship and is due to give birth to twins any day, do not suffer from any post-romance blues.
“We have this special chemistry. We allowed ourselves to stay as a sort of family. That’s rare.”
Indeed it is.
The couple’s professional departure actually solved a dome-scratcher for Salomon.
“I met Dana after I’d written Rabot Hadrachim, but I didn’t have a female vocalist lined up for it yet. I heard her sing and asked her if she’d be willing to do the song and she agreed. You know, in music, connections are symbiotic.”
The rest is pop music history. Rabot Hadrachim did very well on the charts and helped Salomon and Adini build up a loyal following, and the concerts from which the tracks on the new live release were culled – two at the Suzanne Dellal Center and one at the Zappa Club in Tel Aviv – were well attended by enthusiastic audiences. That energy comes through loud and clear on the recording, as does the enduring closeness between the artists.
“I think there are two principal things in life which are really challenging,” Salomon says. “One is to get on with someone who is different from you, and the other is to write a good pop song.”
Haifa-born Salomon has been churning out love-flavored pop numbers for some time now, and with great success. The current string section-enhanced offering is his fifth release, and provided him with an opportunity to put his seasoned arranging skills to good use. He also has the requisite genetic backdrop for his career choice.
“My parents came from Russia and Poland, and my mother played the piano and her father, who went missing somewhere around St. Petersburg in 1938, was a photographer and a violinist. He used to accompany silent movie screenings,” Salomon relates. “My brother plays guitar and, I don’t know why, but at the age of five I told my mother I wanted to learn to play the piano. She was happy about that, until I later told her I wanted to make music my profession,” says Salomon with a laugh.
The budding pianist was given a good idea of what it takes to become a professional music from the start.
“I remember my first music teacher, when I was five, told me that playing music required sacrifices.”
That must have been hard for a young child to grasp. In fact, Salomon soon understood he would have to give up on certain pleasures, if he was going to make musical headway.
“My piano lessons were on a Thursday, and at exactly the same time there were Disney cartoons on TV, which I had to miss,” he recalls. “I asked the teacher if we could reschedule the lesson but she just said she’d told me I’d have to make sacrifices for music.” It all worked out in the end. “I think she changed the time of the lesson, but she made her point,” Salomon chuckles.
Salomon’s natural gift for putting words to music became apparent at the age of 12 when he attended a class at the Rubin Conservatory of Music in Haifa, given by Dr. Ruth Appel.
“She gave us an assignment to take a poem and write music for it,” explains Salomon.
“Ruth taught me how to listen and to create, and to understand that there is a tale behind the poem that needs to be told, through the music.”
Salomon has been telling musical tales ever since. He chalked up valuable experience with the likes of stellar rocker Aviv Geffen, and internationally renowned Israel group Rockfour, as well as writing soundtracks for movies and theater productions.
“I think the most emotive thing you can hear is the human voice. All instrumentalists try to attain a vocal texture to their playing. And when someone sings what they feel, that connects you with a basic place in your soul. There’s nothing better than that.”
Salomon and Adini certainly convey that sense in their vocal duets on The Best, Live,
although the duo’s faithful fans will have to wait until May to hear the album numbers live, after Adini’s maternity leave.