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Latin-Jewish Hanukkah Jams with Mr. G

Hanukkah is quickly approaching, and we’ve got several celebrations planned for the whole family! One highlight of our Hanukkah programming this year is PJ Library’s Hanukkah Concert featuring Mister G, PJ Library musician and…Latin GRAMMY winner?

It’s not every day you hear of a Hanukkah concert featuring a musician known for his genre-defying talent (bluegrass to bossa nova, funk to folk, and everything in between), but “bilingual rockstar” Mister G’s music not only speaks to the increasingly global society in which we live, but echoes a bygone era of music: Latin-Jewish fusion music in the mid-20thcentury.

NPR’s popular show Weekend Edition Saturday took a look at the roots of this cultural blend that has influenced Mister G:

“What sparked the musical collision? Some scholars make the argument that Latin music’s roots come from North Africa and Jews originating from around those areas can’t resist. It’s kind of a neat theory: a few seconds of music and clave, and you’ve got instant hip-shaking.

Jewish saxophonist and producer Steve Berlin of the Chicano band Los Lobos argues the two genres share a distinct minor scale that make them culturally compatible and magnetic. ‘There’s something about Latin music that sort of connects with the Jewish experience in a really profound way,’ Berlin tells Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon. […]

It’s also about the historical context of those decades, says Josh Kun, co-founder of the Idelsohn Society: Vaudeville had just set the stage for multi-ethnic, theatrical performances; Jewish and Latino immigrants rubbed shoulders and shared common spaces in cities like New York.”

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