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Midnight Minyan

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Album Review

Throughout the '90s and into the new millennium, John Zorn's Tzadik record label has become known as a medium for jazz musicians aspiring to meld Jewish traditional music with modern jazz. Here, tenor saxophonist Paul Shapiro carries that torch rather superbly on this 2003 release, as the artist interweaves Middle Eastern modal formulations with disparate jazz-based frameworks. Shapiro garners strong support from his musical associates, including slide trumpeter Steven Bernstein and saxophonist Peter Apfelbaum, who collectively make for a powerful front-line horn section. The musicians' altogether rousing performances consist of soul-drenched choruses meshed with festive soloing escapades. Moreover, the ensemble makes it all sound so unaffected via a hodgepodge of toe-tapping romps, built upon the Jewish music vernacular. They swing while incorporating discrete elements of tango along with heated, modern jazz-based exchanges. The ensemble occasionally projects notions of being in a smoky after-hours jazz joint, or perhaps enjoying the sometimes vivacious undertakings of a Jewish wedding. No doubt, there's a lot of goodness going on as Shapiro pegs a bona fide winner here!

Customer Reviews


This album and Paul's follow-up "It's In The Twilight" are incredible, beautiful collections of music. Fantastic Blue Note feel, smoky tenor sax with a groovin' band, and very New York, like walking up Lexington to Pastrami Queen at 10pm. Fun jazz romps like "To Life" mix with soulful anthems of "Ma Lecha Hayam" and "Amidah."


Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Paul Shapiro is a saxophone and flute player, composer, and bandleader who has been on the New York City music scene since the 1980s. Born and raised on Long Island in Westbury, NY, Shapiro graduated from public school and moved to Montreal, Canada, studying at the renowned McGill University, receiving his B.F.A. Returning to the metropolitan New York City area, he led the progressive funk band Foreign Legion, followed by a stint with the Microscopic Septet, replacing John Hagen after their first...
Full Bio
Midnight Minyan, Paul Shapiro
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