At 24 years old, Israeli born New York based jazz pianist and composer Guy Mintus has performance credits that include the Kennedy Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Apollo Theater, Symphony Space, Red Sea Jazz Festival, and the Israel Festival. With a focus on music as a gateway to cross-cultural understanding, Guy has collaborated with master musicians from Turkey, Greece, Iran, Morocco, Azerbaijan, Cuba, India and Mali and has participated in multi-disciplinary works with artists in the visual, dance, spoken word, and theater worlds. Guy’s intimate, boundary-crossing music weaves textures and colors from across cultures ranging from Stride piano to Turkish Makams, from Indian Ragas to Sephardic Piyutim. His recordings include a debut album with the “Offlines Project,” a duo Guy co-leads with Israeli-Turkish percussionist/oudist Yinon Muallem as well as the live solo album “The Mediterranean Piano.” Guy has been recognized by ASCAP, Downbeat Magazine, BMI and the America-Israel Cultural Foundation, among many others.
Portrait of a Moroccan Cantor singing about Love or Memories from a Place I’ve Never Been is a personal journey to be perceived it as an open love letter to Morocco and to my late Grandfather, Albert Elharrar who was born in Casablanca, 1937 and passed away four years ago. The inspiration is taken from Chapter 8, Verse 7 of “Song of the Songs” wherein King Solomon, speaks about the tremendous power of love, comparing it to a fire that cannot be washed away even by the greatest rivers or to something that cannot be replaced or fixed even by the greatest fortunes in the world. After several trips to old cassette stores in some very religious parts of Israel, I found a version of the verse that moved me the most being sang by a Moroccan Cantor. While writing, the image of my late grandfather kept coming up, particularly his singing of the Shabbat dinner prayer I heard almost weekly while growing up.
Ornaments, small fragments and key landing points in the Cantor’s lines as well as my own musical reflection of the text has become the “bread and butter” of the piece providing its main themes, motives and textural ingredients. The vocal element is apparent as well as usage of the Makammat (the middle eastern modal system), Moroccan Shaabi rhythms, aleatoric techniques and a transcription of the memory of my late grandfather singing the Shabbat prayer melody that is turned into a fugue – all of which wrapped by the words of the verse as an envelope for the entire endeavor.
listen to Guy’s Drop & the Ocean: