• WKCR radio interview and performance at Columbia UniversityLink
  • JTA News: Link
  • MVTIMES.COM : Link
  • MV GAZETTE: Link
  • Milwaukee Express CD Review, July 3, 2012: >> LINK
  • World Music Central, July 1, 2012: >> LINK
  • Emaho Magazine, July 2, 2012: >> LINK
  • Splinters & Candy Music Review, June 20th 2012 >> LINK
  • Jewish Daily Forward - Arty Semite, June 18, 2012 >> link
  • Middle Eastern Influences Radio Show, Airplay 06/14/12 >> link
  • New York Music Daily, June 11, 2012 >> link
  • SoundRoots, Track Pick 05/21/12
  • Spin the Globe - World Music Airplay, Airplay 05/28/12 >> link
  • Inside World Music, Album Review 05/24/12 >> link
  • Midwest Record, CD Review 05/15/12 >> link
  • The Klezmer Shack, CD Mention/Review 05/13/12 >> link
  • WFMU, Airplay 05/12/12
  • A Voice to Hear, Artist Mention 05/05/12 >> linkINTERVIEW WITH AVRAM AND LJUBA AT WKCR - COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY JUNE 14, 2012: >> LINK


CD Review: Ljuba Davis Ladino Ensemble's 2-CD 'East And West'
The Ljuba Davis Ladino Ensemble brings us an exciting 2-CD set of Sephardic music with lively instrumentals and joyous vocals. The Ladino qualities are inherent throughout, but there is a good deal of Mediterranean, Greek, and Arab musical influences contained throughout both CDs. Both CDs contain identical songs in identical order, but the first CD contains vocals by Ljuba Davis, while the second CD contains one vocal track by Avram Pengas. The group consists of Ljuba Davis on vocals, Avram Pengas on vocals and bouzouki, Rachid Halihal on oud, Nadav Lev on Spanish guitar, Ossama Farouk on hand percussion, and Marty Confurius on string bass. The rousing group is very fun to listen to and steeped in Ladino glory. This is music for the Klezmer, Jewish, Ladino, and Mediterranean music fan! ~ Matthew Forss

Is there a word for the gravitational pull one can feel for cultural tradition not one's own? There should be. I'd use it often, particularly in reference to the various musical offspring of the Jewish and Roma diasporas. Something there is about this music. And today, specifically, the Ladino music of Ljuba Davis, whose new album East and West I'm enjoying as I write.
Curiously, this album reminds me less of other Ladino music I've heard recently (which, admittedly, is skewed in a particular direction due to DeLeon), and more of Greek music. But then, common links persist around the Mediterranean, where local music is brewed from ingredients provided by Jewish, Moorish, Roma, Visigothic, North African and Greek immigrants, travelers, and workers.
Davis' ancestors were among those expelled from Spain in the 15th Century, though her proud grandmother told her never to forget her Sephardim roots. But it took a trip to Barcelona to spark her into action recording new songs along with songs that had been in her repertoire for years.
“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 says. “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.”
I'm a little puzzled by the decision to release an "instrumental" version of each of the eight tracks along with the versions on which Davis sings -- partly because they aren't fully instrumental, but rather include all the male backing vocals but omit Davis' voice. Um, Ladino karaoke, perhaps?
Ah, wait... reading further, I see that this is for the purpose of "allowing listeners to sing along and learn the melodies—and to honor the Orthodox prohibition on men listening to female vocals." Though Ladino karaoke works, too. Once I learn some of the words myself (lyrics available here), I'm sure I'll be singing along with these lively songs as well. Like this one about the might of God.

FROM KLEZCALENDAR  Posted by Ari Davidow on MAY 12, 2012 7:30 PM
Ljuba Davis Ladino Ensemble, NYC, 15 Jun, 2012
After many years of singing lush Ladino melodies, Ljuba Davis finally preserves her music in a timeless album, East and West (6/12/12). The Ljuba Davis Ladino Ensemble present their songs with little tugs of musical dominance, which differs from what most would envision as the typical Judaeo-Spanish style.
Led by bouzuki master, Avram Pengas, Davis' ensemble is made up of some of New York’s top Greek, Arab, and Jewish musicians. Their lush Middle-Eastern melodies beautifully compliment Davis' joyous, yet dynamic, voice with an acoustic richness. They will be performing at DROM in New York City on June 15th, 8pm.

MIDWEST RECORD: May 12, 2012
LJUBA DAVIS LADINO ENSEMBLE/East & West: Despite this being a twofer cd, it's not divided onto east and west, it's divided into instrumental and vocal. And even though we know the LDL in the website name refers to the group's leader's initials, with all the attention on bad cholesterol these days, well, no need to scare people off needlessly. Top ethnic players from along the Mediterranean axis join together with one of the leaders of the west coast Jewish music revival for the soundtrack to the unmade middle eastern thriller movie that this would fit perfectly into. Without flourishes that make this extra palatable to tourists or extra precious to devout ethnics, this is simply the pure music served up hot and sure to grab your attention. Going way beyond your typical belly dance or ethnic restaurant record, the armchair world beater will be more than captivated by the musical goings on here.

WMFU Transpacific Sound Paradise: May 12, 2012
“Local Ladino Supergroup”!

Ljuba Davis Ladino Ensemble / East and West. Harking back to my years in the Bay Area, I have a definite memory of listening to Ljuba Davis, at the very least featured during a fund-raiser around the time of the Bosnian War. With a lovely, real-sounding voice and a delightful selection of traditional repertoire, she was one of the few Sephardic singers that stuck in my mind. Here it is many years later, and there is finally a recording. Not only that, but the ensemble behind her voice captures a Balkan/Spanish Sephardic sound that is perfect. This CD is one of a small (but growing!) number of traditional Sephardic music CDs worth listening to. It is also designed to learn from--in addition to a CD featuring Davis' voice, there is a second CD featuring a male voice (or just instrumental) designed to provide access to the melodies by those who want to learn to sing the songs (or who are limited by the current haredi "kol isha" fetish). The CD release party is in NYC on June 15, and the official album release is on June 12. But, KlezmerShack readers don't have to wait. You can order the CD (as well as read the lyrics, enjoy photos of the ensemble), at the Ljuba Davis Ensemble home page.