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På skive



The American quintet Teiku is led by pianist-composer Josh Harlow and percussionist-composer Jonathan Barahal Taylor who both were inspired by music they grew up singing – the Jewish-Ukranian ancestors’ Passover songs, unique to each respective family and passed down aurally over generations, and different from the increasingly standardized melodies of most American Jews and even of the Israeli Jews. Harlow and Taylor met in the Detroit music scene and developed a strong musical chemistry, eventually discovering their strikingly similar histories and immediately deciding to make Teiku a reality.

Teiku – the Talmudic acronym that roughly translates to «unanswered question» – arranges and reframes Harlow and Taylor’s ancestral families’ Passover melodies into vehicles for sonic exploration. «Much like the tradition of Creative Music through which we interpret it, is liberation music. As its humble stewards, we offer it as a call for justice for all oppressed peoples; as Jews, we decry the senseless violence, displacement, and killing perpetrated in our name», they declare.

Teiku features Harlow and Taylor’s mentor, double bass player Jaribu Shahid (of the recent incarnations of the Art Ensemble of Chicago and Sun Ra Arkestra) and reeds player Peter Formanek (who recorded before in a duo with Harlow) and Rafael Leafar. The debut album of Teiku was recorded at Big Sky Recording in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in May 2022.

Obviously, Teiku’s music is archival in scope (with voice recordings from Harlow and Taylor’s families who stress the ritualist dimension of the pieces) and offers strong spiritual threads as it reflects a yearning for a deeper insight and acute sensitivity to the present moment. But it is also irreverent and adventurous and leaves rich spaces for expressive, fiery free jazz improvisations, subdued grooves and minimalist electro-acoustic soundscapes. This quintet alternates wisely between meditative readings of the touching, traditional melodies, and bold yet nuanced timbral explorations that highlight the distinct voices of Teiku. This continuous soulful dialog with the ancestral traditions is invigorating and stimulating, and always feeds the spirit of melody and freedom.

Eyal Hareuveni

Josh Harlow (piano, synthesizer, electronics), Jonathan Barahal Taylor (drums, percussion, synthesizer), Jaribu Shahid (double bass, singing bowls, percussion), Peter Formanek (tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, clarinet), Rafael Leafar (bass clarinet, bass flute, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, electronics)