Reb Shaya is an eclectic musician intent on sharing the rich tradition of Jewish music. Originally trained in classical music, he discovered his grandpa's old record collection of Chassidic music, and a whole new world opened up. By now, he's explored just about every existing type of Jewish music, and has even extended them into the future, even writing his own songs with lyrics on Jewish themes. Proficient in performance on keyboard, fiddle and vocals, composing, arranging, recording and even doing his own graphics, his versatility and professionalism in all these areas has impressed both his fans and his colleagues.
He has produced three albums over the last few years. The first was actually released in its first incarnation in 2008, but has now been updated; a video based on it has received over 400,000 views on Youtube. Called "Old Jewish Songs of Russia/Ukraine", it's a collection of the kind of songs his grandfather would have been familiar with, many originally notated by a Russian musicologist. Some of it is in the klezmer repertoire, but much is chassidic and not well known.
The next album, "Meditations on Violin - Healing for the Soul," is a Jewish spin on New Age. Reb Shaya's wife is a certified reflexologist, massage therapist and dula, and she noticed the need for relaxing Jewish flavored music to accompany therapy sessions. He responded with an hour of slow melodic music that promotes healing. It has been found to cure headaches and put cranky babies to sleep, among other things.
The latest creation is Reb Shaya's most ambitious undertaking, which he considers the culmination of his career to this point: performances of songs composed by the great Chassidic leaders of the past 250 years. He always wanted to present this great, timeless melodies in a way that brings out their power and beauty without trying to fit into an existing genre, It's indeed difficult to say that these rich orchestrations and vocals "sound like" anybody else. One listener says he just kept playing it over and over. Fellow musicians have called it "simply beautiful" and "inspiring."
Presently, Reb Shaya is working on a new album of his own melodies, collected over the last 35 years. He's also hoping to finish his book on Jewish music in the summer, G-d willing.