Israeli musician Idan Raichel blends styles to share music with a message of peace. A keyboardist, singer-songwriter, and composer, his music draws from Middle Eastern, Latin American, and African musical styles. His lyrics are almost always in Hebrew and he often uses bits of traditional Hebrew texts. LA Times described what Raichel does as creating “a zesty world music stir fry.” He learned accordion at a young age and studied jazz piano in high school before playing a lot of Israeli and Western pop while serving in the Israel Defense Forces army band. After serving, he got into Ethiopian folk and pop music while working as a counselor at a school for immigrants. All of these styles combine to make him the multi-faceted musician he is today.
Raichel has put out several albums including some with his band, The Idan Raichel Project, which has seen him collaborate with dozens of other talented musicians from around the world. He’s also put out some solo albums, the most recent being At the Edge of the Beginning. The relatively mellow song “Before It Ends” shows many of Raichel’s influences and a message of positivity and hope that is found of so much of his music, while other songs on the album have more of a pop/rock feel.
Raichel is well-known and has garnered international accolades for working in collaboration with other artists. The Touré-Raichel Collective is a West African-Israeli collaborative group led by Raichel and Malian singer and guitarist Vieux Farka Touré. The two met by chance at an airport in 2008 and have been playing together since 2010. In performance, Touré and Raichel each demonstrate they are “willing to venture out of [their] own musical sandbox and play in someone else’s for a while” to an impressive result. Their partnership also highlights the historical relevance and connections between Jews and Muslims and Middle Eastern and North African musical styles.
The Touré-Raichel Collective has put out two albums: The Tel Aviv Session and The Paris Session. Some tracks are clearly African in nature and others are clearly Israeli while yet others sit somewhere in between. The soulful song “Diaraby” features Touré’s smooth vocals over Raichel’s haunting piano playing. Other tracks feature Touré’s masterful guitar playing. All of their songs show that collaborative artistry across cultures and styles can be a magical thing.
Idan Raichel is currently on tour in the US, having recently performed in New Jersey and Boston, with future shows in San Francisco, among other cities. Don’t miss the chance to catch a live performance of this talented global artist.