Staying close to bass

Composer and double bassist Daphna Sadeh will reveal the ethnic side of her artistic aspirations when she performs a program of crossover works.

Bassist Daphna Sadeh 311 (photo credit: Haim Algranati)
Bassist Daphna Sadeh 311
(photo credit: Haim Algranati)
You sometimes have to leave home to appreciate whence you came. Daphna Sadeh is a walking, talking and playing example of that notion.
“I have been living in England for the past eight years and I spent a few years studying in New York before that. Living in Cambridge gives me the emotional and physical space I need to create,” says the double bass player who will open the new Confederation House season tonight, alongside Jerusalem-based cellist Rali Margalit, wind instrument player Michael Meltzer and percussionist Lev Elman.
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The concert will be based on works written by both Sadeh and Margalit, including material from Margalit’s Soosim album, and from Sadeh’s latest release Reconciliation, her third album to date, which offers a heady mix of jazz, western classical and Arabic music, with plenty of Middle Eastern and Jewish seasoning. I venture that the title of the new album suggests some kind of freshly discovered comfort zone.
“Making music is very much a rollercoaster of troughs and peaks,” Sadeh explains. “I went through a lot in putting Reconciliation together. It always takes a lot out of me, and I sometimes get to the end of my spiritual and emotional tether, and I feel completely drained. Then I take a breather and get going again, with something different.”
Sadeh’s “reconciliation” also occurred as a result of her relocation to the UK.
“As an Israeli living in Israel I almost felt shell-shocked with heaviness of emotions which are part and parcel of life here. That reconciliation is more a matter of self-acceptance. I think you hear that in the title track. There is the flute and the guitar which intertwine like a couple. It’s a personal voyage which I think I have been able to undertake because I have distanced myself, physically, from Israel.”
Sadeh has also found a comfort zone with the members of the Voyagers band she founded in Britain, and with which she recorded Reconciliation.
“I find that musicians in Britain give me my due and support me, which makes working with them a lot easier.”
That is not to say Sadeh hastens to add, that she has a hard time collaborating with her Israeli counterparts. And her cohorts in Voyagers aren’t exactly rank and file Brits either.
“Actually, some of the people in Voyagers are sort of Israeli. The guitarist Ivor [Goldberg] lived in Israel for the years as a kid and the drummer is Israeli. And I love playing with Rali. She is my non-biological sister. We feel very comfortable together, as friends and playing music together.”
SADEH STARTED out on her bass playing road in Israel studying with Israel Borohov, on bass guitar, and was a member of Borohov’s pioneering cross-cultural East West Ensemble. She quickly graduated to the standup acoustic version of the instrument, under the tutelage of veteran jazz bassist Eli Magen. Ever eager to find new frontiers, a year later Sadeh felt the need to explore the techniques and harmonies of the classical genre and relocated to New York where she studied with legendary bassist and teacher Homer Mensch.
“Homer was a wonderful teacher and musician,” Sadeh recalls. “He was more than too. He came with me on the subway when I went to buy my bass in New York, and he fixed the bass when it fell down the stairs in a subway station one day. I learned so much from him.”
More than anything, Sadeh says she has learned to be herself and to go with the flow.
“I have had projects on which people have tried to guide me in a certain direction. But I have to be me. I think, to an extent, until now I have felt that I have to sort of represent something in my music, possibly to represent being an Israeli. But I am me, and that has to come through in my music.
I have to be true to myself. I think my next album will follow a different direction. I don’t know exactly what it’s going to be, but whatever comes out will be pure me.”
Daphna Sadeh and Rali Margalit will perform at Confederation House in Jerusalem tonight at 8:30 p.m. For more information: 02-6245206 and