Nani (Noam Vazana) writes and sings in Ladino, an endangered Sephardic Jewish language. Through time-honored texts and her own fresh compositions, she’s actively protecting history with her expressive vocal range. This versatile musician plays trombone throughout the album, as well as piano. Ke Haber is strong, evocative, tense, triumphant.
I find the distinct flavor of Turkish pop music production in the first track, Cok Seni Severim. This is intentional, Nani tells me; Turkey has a very large Ladino-speaking community. Track 2, No Kero Madre, is so full of love and the tension of love, of survival. No Tiene Hija, No Tiene Amiga spirals inwardly, defensively but triumphantly. This track is a perfect example of prosody – again love and tension, but very personal. I’m intimate with this feeling. Here’s a live version:
…but the piano gets the limelight in track 4, Fada De Mi Korazon, and Nani’s voice supports it wonderfully, like a duet. The guitar interplay with the piano at the end is wonderful.
There’s a cheery video of Una Segunda Piel on YouTube. This is a hopeful, joyful song, like breaking out into the sunlight. Remember: Nani plays the trombone. The next track, Landarico is all about the brass – catching the breath, Nani’s and mine. I looked up the lyrics to see if there was an inherent reason for choosing only horns to accompany the vocals.
Dando grasyas a Dios padre
He thanked God, o father
Ke tan Linda la kriara
For creating such a lovely thing
I el rey, por juhar kon eya
The king, wanting to play with her
Kon vara de oro la dawa
Touched her with his golden scepter
Sort of, yeah? Brass enhances the regal, ethereal aspect of the story, burying the innuendo a little deeper. Sephardi women must have a funny sense of humor.
Gracias a la Vida fits within my Spanish vocabulary. I appreciate the guitar intro here. The song reminds me of South American music – the guitarist is from Chile. This song comes across more like a battle cry than a message of love and tension. A great way to wrap the album: send us out into the world, ready to fight for what we love.
OH, but this line: Cuando miro el fruto del cerebro humano: When I look at the fruit of the human brain…
Throughout the album, use of percussion (especially rain stick) is what tugs at my soul. Nani’s vocals are so strong that the whole album could have been done a cappella, or with percussion only, but I’m glad it wasn’t. This is a musical journey you owe yourself.
11 NOVEMBER – Chutzpah Festival, Vancouver, CA
12 NOV – Calgary, AB, CA, TBC
14 NOV – ArtsPlace, Canmore, AB, CA
18 NOV – Toronto, ON, CA, TBC
Ke Haber by Nani (Noam Vazana)
Defending Language and Culture in Song