Thursday, August 7, 2008

Israel’s B-Side

Check out “Israel,” originally written by John Carisi back in that fateful year of 1948. This isn’t his version or Miles’, but the trombone duo of J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding who made it the title of their 1968 A&M stunner. Herbie Hancock, who also played on Jonathan Klein’s “Hear O Israel” session around the same time, was on board, as was Ron Carter and Grady Tate. In his Israel liner notes, Ira Gitler wrote, “Herbie Hancock shifts over the sands of Sinai with both hands before getting into some straight-ahead, right-hand swinging.” Even in 1968 it was still possible to score Israel with a level of sand-shifting calm and straight-ahead swing. Blues, for sure, but not the menacing, dark, tragic, suffering, embattled blues you’d have to score now. Of course, you could also just put on a real fantasy record, “Israeli Sha Sha” from the great Machito. At least Carisi heard the blues as a permanent Israeli score. Machito is pure romance, a tropical, playful Zionism swishing across a dancefloor that for these three minutes at least, has room for everyone. A sigh for the CNN ticker–if only politics actually sounded like this.


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