Personnel includes: Oren Bloedow (vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, oud, saz, Wurlizter piano, Moog synthesizer, bass, tom-tom, percussion, bells, sampler, bubul terang); Jennifer Charles (vocals, Wurlitzer piano, bells); Michael Tighe, Danny Blume (guitar); Joan Wasser (violin); Jane Scarpantoni (cello); Aaron Heick (flute, alto flute, bass clarinet, alto saxophone); Ted Reichman (accordion); Steve Bernstein (trumpet); Curtis Hasselberg (trombone); Jamie Saft (piano, keyboards); Ed Pastorini (keyboards); James Genus (bass); Ben Perowsky, Kenny Wollesen, George Javori (drums); Michal Adi (cymbals); EJ Rodriguez (percussion).
Guitarist Oren Bloedow and vocalist Jennifer Charles are better know as the axe and voice behind Elysian Fields. La Mar Enfortuna is part of Tzadik's Radical Jewish Culture series, and earns its place. Bloedow and Charles have taken into their collective arms the historical Sephardim melodies and dressed them in modern clothing while retaining their spirit and melodic constructions. Utilizing the talents of many collaborators, including Ted Reichman, Jamie Saft, Ed Pastorini, and Kenny Wollesen, Bloedow and Charles employ dozens of instruments to get at the dark, mysterious spirit of the Sephardim's musical heritage. They go so far as to take a piece of a melody, as in "La Rosa," and color it with enough Spanish musicality, enough Jewish history, and sexy blues, to render it a ghost of its image, to be sure. But it's a ghost that is every bit as potent as the music it was inspired by, loaded emotionally and physically with emotion, sensual grace, and the hint of sound effects trickery, that lends it a slightly creepy air -- especially when we hear the sampled voices screaming in the background. On "A La Uno Ya Naci," Charles takes the Wurlitzer as her chosen instrument of creaky expression, and slips through the snaky lines wrought by Bloedow and Steve Bernstein's elegantly muted trumpet to paint a picture of a love so broken, yet so constant, it could only have existed in antiquity. But in her breathy, subtle vocal timbres and hushed accents, she finds the same passion within herself to carry the lyric into the present and make it believable. La Mar Enfortuna is among the most accessible records issued in the Tzadik series, but it is poignant and provocative nonetheless, full smoldering passions, broken lives, shattered hearts, and a sense of migration and dislocation. It offers a view of the trace, the cipher, the place where something or someone used to be but the only thing left is his possessions. Ultimately, La Mar Enfortuna is a record of disappearance and memory, and from this gorgeous, heartbreakingly beautiful, and sensual account of memory expressed, new traditions are created from the passage of the old. ~ Thom Jurek