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Davis has turned an eerie, intense connection to her Ladino roots into pure poetry, rendering the musical traditions of her ancestors with fresh verve. Supported by the Ljuba Davis Ladino Ensemble, some of New York’s top Greek, Arab, and Jewish musicians (led by bouzuki master Avram Pengas), Davis’s voice resounds on East and West (release: June 12, 2012; www.LDLEnsemble.com/), moving through rollicking tunes (“Et Dodim,” “Adir Hu”) and gentle ballads and lullabies (“Durme”).
The album is the first recording by this one-time mainstay of the early West Coast Jewish music revival, now a passionate musical elder savoring the expressive force of a lifetime of song, celebration, and wisdom. Its acoustic arrangements draw on the full gamut of timbres and rhythms from around the Eastern Mediterranean, a richness coming to New York’s Drom on June 15.
“When I sing some of these songs. I don’t do it in the way that some people envision Ladino music. Perhaps it’s part of some genetic memory, way, way back in the prism of my mind,” Davis smiles. “But for the music to be real, I need to sing it the way I feel it now, with more of a contemporary rhythm and with great joy. I simply love this music.”