Chasing Stray Flames
Alan Goldberg's third release, 'Chasing Stray Flames', takes modern American Jewish Diaspora music in new directions. The challenge of creating instrumental music that communicates a deep spiritual connection led Alan naturally to the Jewish musical tradition of the niggun - The music on this CD is rooted in a familiar framework created by the Niggun - the classic expression through music of inner emotions that can't be expressed through words brought to the world by Jewish Hasidic masters. Instead of the traditional wordless singing of melodies, he employs the lyre, an instrument deeply rooted in the Jewish tradition and associated with holiness and spirituality from antiquity, as well as piano. 'Bringing the sound of the lyre back into the consciousness of people in order to create spiritual movement is one of the driving forces behind my music,' Alan says from his Austin, Texas home. While the wellspring of the music is from a Jewish perspective, the sense of yearning in the music is accessible to 'seekers' of all faiths. While you may associate the lyre with peaceful tinkling sounds, that is not the type of music found on Chasing Stray Flames. This is music of yearning. Yearning for redemption, for a return to Homeland, for a haven from the superficial and the blind pursuit of self-indulgence. Bound up with the expression of yearning is a supporting bedrock of peace and faith. From the solo piano tracks 'Through It All', 'Fracture', and 'Iktibas', to the lyre pieces 'Niggun Menuha', 'Traveler's Niggun', and the traditional 'Ki Haym Chayenu' (the Torah's words 'are our life'), a strong foundation of Emunah - faith, keeps the tension of yearning from falling into songs of despair. Percussion, including Middle Eastern percussion instruments and rhythms are used in the songs 'The Printer', 'Sea Dance', and 'Sparks in the Early Rain' to emphasize the fusion of new and old, and to enhance the expression of the more forceful voices of the lyre. The expression of yearning crystallizes in Lyre Kavanah, a term applied to solo lyre playing while in an intense, focused spiritual state (the mindset for prayer). It provides the wellspring of emotion that feeds the rest of the music. This may very well be what King David did when he was composing the Psalms on his lyre. The final track, 'Slave's Dream' is a final expression of yearning as an anthem for return, a wordless expression of the desire for the ingathering of the exiles to renew in earnest from North America to Israel. Alan Goldberg BIO: A piano and keyboard player for many years, including a stint in Austin Pop-Rock band 'The Damage Project', Alan released his solo piano CD 'Small Acts' in 2001 as music to prepare the mind and soul for the Sabbath. Music that helps to relax people and get them in touch with their spiritual side is important, especially in these tense times. 'It's not uncommon for my music to be used in ways that allow it to find it's way into a person's consciousness when their guard is down,' Alan explains. 'That's the most effective time to do soul work.' So it's not surprising that Alan's music has been used by therapy, massage, and healing groups to help in relaxation and meditation exercises, made it's way into soundtracks for student films, in radio advertisements, and onto Jewish-oriented radio stations. 'A song from my first album 'Fuel For The Fire' ended up as background music for some TV college basketball highlights.' Alan muses. 'Now that's a novel approach to spirituality.' 'Ultimately it's about a connection to the divine', Alan says. 'Many people define their day, and their lives, by the things that distract them from what really makes them happy. If a little bit of music can help to center someone, to remind them of what their true source of meaning is, and I can contribute to that, then I've done what I'm supposed to do.'