By COLlive reporter
How do you pay tribute to a man who was called “the zaidy of Jewish music”?
Gathering over 20 artists and musicians to sing his best songs, with reimagined arrangements, in a double album is certainly a start.
When Gershon Veroba and Yerachmiel Ziegler began working on The Yess Legacy they were amazed by the timeless quality of the songs of Moshe Yess, of blessed memory.
Yess, a Chabad baal teshuva who lived in Montreal, broke into the Jewish music scene at the peak of the disco era in the non Jewish world—when pulsating rhythms and massive horn, synth and string sections came standard.
He teamed up with cellist Shalom Levine to create the Yess/Megama duet and made an immediate connection with listeners with the simplicity of their sound.
Minimalist yet musical, wise yet whimsical, songs such as Jack Schwartz, G-d Is Alive & Well In Jerusalem and of course My Zaidy resonated with crowds throughout the world, each of them packing a powerful and inspirational message.
And what is more amazing is how the songs remained relevant and current until today. World class performers like Abie Rotenberg, Yossi Green and the 8th Day band’s Shmuel and Bentzi Marcus cite Yess as a major influence of their music.
When Veroba and Zeigler were assembling the talent roster for the long-awaited tribute album to the music of Moshe Yess, they realized that it wasn’t about finding singers as much as it was finding “the Moshe Yess’s of today.”
Once they matched up this roster with the right songs (and schedules), the next step was deconstructing then reconstructing Yess’s music so it would keep its honesty and soul while still appealing to a generation that was, at best, peripherally aware of him.
Veroba used his encyclopedic knowledge of musical genres as well as his understanding of what drives fellow artists, to create a sound that doesn’t simply do justice to Yess’s works, but actually refreshes them for a new generation of fans.
“Despite the updated sound, every song stays unwaveringly true to the DNA of the originals,” he said. “Yess fans will be transported to the times in their lives when they first heard these classics, while ‘newbies’ will be captivated by the sophisticated simplicity of both music and message.”
A decidedly eclectic A-list of performers was assembled to take part in the project including Green, Abie Rotenberg, Avraham Rosenblum, Rabbi Baruch Chait, Rivie Schwebel, Shlomo Katz, Soulfarm, Lenny Solomon, Country Yossi, Yossi Piamenta, Benny Friedman, Moshe Hecht and “Jewish Star” alums Aaron Holder and Menachem Weinstein.
They were joined by clarinetist Andy Statman, pianist Yaron Gershovsky, drummer Gal Gershovsky, Moshe Antelis, Tony Montalbo, Aryeh Kunstler, C Lanzbom, Marc Levine, Sam Glaser, Zevi Kaufman and others.
Shalom Levine, Yess’s partner in Megama was even brought out of retirement for a cameo—an appearance made even more special because it took place just weeks before Levine’s untimely passing.
“Moshe’s music connected with people because it was about people—the concepts aren’t about the lofty as much as they’re about the human condition,” Veroba said.
Despite the incredible level of material, talent and production, this 30 song, double CD set will retail for the single CD price of just $15.99.
The album is available for digital download on JewishJukebox.com and in stores.
AUDIO: As A Jew – Benny Friedman