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5 May 2017

Sheshet “Sheshet” 1977 Israel Prog Jazz Rock,Canterbury Scene







Sheshet “Sheshet” 1977 Israel Prog Jazz Rock,Canterbury Scene
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Sheshet were the top prog band to emerge from the 70s experimental rock scene in Israel. This 6-piece band featured guitar, bass, and drums along with Rhodes and acoustic piano, flute, and male/female vocals. Unfortunately, like Locanda Delle Fate in Italy, by 1977 the band found little interest from public and the media, and so they quickly dissolved leaving behind them a forgotten masterpiece for the few people willing to listen. New listeners will quickly enjoy a jazzy form of prog, influenced slightly by Gentle Giant and 70s jazz-fusion yet delivered like Italian prog, where Rhodes piano, flute, and Hebrew male/female vocals immediately draw attention with mediterranean melodies, charm, and warmth. The album features strong compositions from beginning to end, and although most of the tracks average 5-minutes each, each musician takes advantage with some impressive soloing and countless catchy themes. It's hard for me to compare Sheshet with another band or album, but Cuba's Sintesis is a close comparison. Judith Ravitz's vocals, which are the album's highlight, also somehow reminds me of Jane Duboc's style on Bacamarte's debut album. Overall, what a wonderful album to start your Israeli prog collection with. The music is strong enough to impress hardcore prog collectors, yet catchy enough to appeal to the casual music fan. If you enjoy this release, I recommend Yoni Rechter & Yehudit Ravitz's Once and Forever as a good follow-up...............

I grew up on the progressive rock of the '70s. Mostly we heard US and UK bands in the States, but some European bands, particularly Italian bands like PFM, Le Orme and New Trolls recorded songs in English and had a following in the U.S. Israeli prog? Not so much. First, it never was a terribly popular sound in Israel from what I can gather, and without a big commercial success in their home country these bands just didn't get exported. I only discovered them in recent years and a few were truly exceptional.

Sheshet is my personal favorite, a band that was as good as anything that came out of the US or UK. They had Yehudit Ravitz for a vocalist and acoustic guitarist and Shem-Tov Levi on flute and vocals. He also wrote most of the music, which is an amazing mix of the softer side of progressive rock and Canterbury scene style jazz, plus unique touches of their own. Prog bands always needed exceptional keyboardists and Sheshet had one in Adi Renert.

The 30th anniversary deluxe edition offered by Amazon is a two CD set. The first disc is their self-titled debut album, which was exceptional from beginning to end. Some tracks have Yehudit Ravitz singing lead; others have group vocals. Some of the album has Hebrew lyrics but there is also a lot of wordless vocalise. I always loved when Annie Haslam did that with Renaissance. It takes a talented singer to pull that off well and Yehudit Ravitz is up for the task. The one track that was a single in Israel is All Thumbs Samba, a track which really is a samba with Hebrew lyrics. Despite the very different sound from the other tracks it has enough depth added to make it fit seamlessly into the album.

Their second and final album, is the soundtrack to the film "The Stretcher March" (1977). It's filled with lovely prog instrumentals and more vocalise. The 30th anniversary deluxe CD reissue of Sheshet's self-titled debut includes all the original, previously unreleased music from the film on a second bonus CD. (The three tracks that appeared on both albums are only on the first disc.) It includes two versions of the theme song from the film. The disc opens with an instrumental version and finishes with a vocal version, with Gidi Gov singing lead. The one set basically gives you everything the band ever recorded. I can't recommend this one highly enough.............By Caitlyn Maire......

 Israel presents a very interesting and varied progressive rock scene specially during the 70's and 80's and a remarkable classic rock and folk variety of very talented artists (including Matti Caspi, Yehudith Ravitz, Arik Einstein, etc). One of the major exponents of these musical tendencies (yes, all of them +jazz) is Shem-Tov Levi with his characteristic flute and skilled piano playing accompanied by his very competent singing. Prog-wise Levi is one of the epicenters of the Israeli branch being part of projects such as Ktzat Acheret, Tzlil Mechuvan, The Family Album (with Schlomo Gronich) and in 1976 decided to form a new group: Sheshet. For this he teamed with one of the most beautiful voices in music (specifically israeli folk and pop), Yehudith Ravitz.
Levi and Ravitz have always surrounded themselves with very talented artists (being the duets Levi-Gronich and Rechter-Ravitz very enjoyable and progy) , this is no exception since for this album they recruited a group of brilliant artists of rock (Aroch played with Arik Einstein and Shalom Hanoch on israeli rock cornerstone album/rock opera Shablool) and jazz (being Renert a very respected jazz pianist) backgrounds. So what you would expect here is an amazing fusion album (lots of Chick Corea influences) with hints of Gentle Giant (it seems that every israeli band of the era was influenced by the Shulman brothers and co.) and somewhat of a Canterbury atmosphere (the israeli scene has lots of humor and craziness + some tendencies towards a jazzy sound).

When the band was founded they had many troubles getting gigs which is the main reason of their short existence, but an executive of a recording company convinced them to reunite and record the album (thanks god they agreed) which you can still find in most israeli record stores...

Now the song by song review (beware...spoilers...):

Clappers: the album starts by showcasing the abilities of the instrumental band with a jazzy jam featuring a combination of bass, drums, piano, flute and electric guitar followed by a section headed by vocals to develop into a two minute instrumental jam and finish with more beautiful singing. Very complex writing and more than competent playing. 5/5

Colours: the first of many instrumentals. Focused on the piano, the supporting rhythm section is very competent and the flute accompaniment and soloing makes it very enjoyable. 4.5/5

Left Foot Samba: is a must for latin/brazilian jazz/fusion (and Matti Caspi) fans, written by singer (and co-founder) Yehudith Ravitz showing that besides of being a fantastic vocalist she is a very skilled composer (+ the lyrics are fun and well written). Fun song with an amazing flute performance (I'll be saying this a lot because Levi's flute is just magical) but too short of length (3:31 only)... 4.75/5

7/8: as the title announces it has a 7/8 time signature (which is a good sign for us prog nuts), showing the desire of making different and more complex music, the highlights are the rhodes piano, the somewhat odd flute playing, the rhythm section (jazz players would kill for one like this) and the piano that suddenly breaks into the music in several sections with great improvs + Levi's and Ravitz's vocalizations (no lyrics) get a special mention. Highly enjoyable and a bit weird (for prog fans this is completely normal!) tune. 5/5

If Only You Have Come: a sad ballad singed by Levi accompanied by an acoustic piano (with a rhodes intro) with some flute, electric guitar and bass moments. Nice but short prog ballad. 4/5

Autumn Nights: one of my all time favorite songs mainly due to Ravitz's vocals (which are somewhat unusual) and Levi's beautiful flute. It continues in the mood of the previous song with a sad ballad, the guitar licks and the rhythm section deserve an honorable mention. If you liked Ktzat Acheret you are going to love this one! 5/5

Debka: it builds up from a traditional arab tune (Debka dance, as the title announced) performed by Levi in flute and singed by him and the rest of the band (no lyrics), then it turns into a more upbeat rock improv and lots of Jazz with unusual elements and soloing by each member (including vocal). The drums shine with the piano, guitar and flute. 4.75/5

Dinosaurus Jr.: This is for Ktzat Acheret nostalgia... A rock instrumental song led by Levi's beautiful flute (I cannot get tired of it) featuring a very nice melody and filled with lots of jamming. 4.5/5

F Minor: closes the album in a very calmed way and (similarly to 7/8) the title announces the key in which the song is written. F Minor is an instrumental dominated by the flute, piano and rhythm section and it has to end with the wordless vocalizations of Ravitz and Levi. 4.75/5

Highlights? The flute (of course), Ravitz's voice, the piano, the rhythm section, the guitar... what can I say? the entire band!!!

Total: 4.69

This is a no-brainer an absolute prog classic, masterpiece and cornerstone of the amazing and somewhat forgotten Israeli prog/rock/jazz scene....

If you like Chick Corea, Canterbury scene prog, Middle-eastern, Gentle Giant, Yehudith Ravitz, Shem-Tov Levi, Ktzat Acheret and/or israeli music in general this is for you......by ProgressiveAttic .........

Now this is amazing stuff !! I'm happy to see the high rating for this album placing it exactly where it should , because this is so good and such a great album, such great music, I almost can't believe it! Music is definitely prog but on the lighter side, it's not acustic but never gets heavy ,always have that great feel of a band playing at ease, even on the rockier parts. For the ones seeking harder edged music with heavy guitar and keys look else where! But for the rest of you this is a diamond , everything is so well done and played so good, songs are well written and interesting. It's hard for me to pick a standout since the songs have a wide range of diversity from eclectic prog to great softer parts that evolves effectively! I must say vocals are so well done great harmonies throughout the entire album, Hebrew language can sound ....well actually I don't know how it sounds because I speak it ,but I am sure it sounds very different, although ravitz has this great voice just beautiful. "Clappers" offers the eclectic side of the band starting out with this great piano riff which easily all the band follow gradually simply great, I love the chorus with those harmonies , from the start you realize this band is professionals!! "Colours starts so easily with the piano that you think you might fall asleep in a minute or so , but it builds up with great guitar and more soloing it then climaxes and drums really steals the show with those great poundings , really good! I didn't mean to go song by song but I will say this album goes further and shows Brazilian style , jazz and there is an Israeli vibe to the music which adds to more diversity. Although some of the musicians on the band were inspired from prog artists especially from England there is no imitation just inspiration, the music is totally original and always have this Israeli spin to it and that what makes it so good. Now I definitely must comment on the beautiful flute playing by Levi, so right and never goes noodling like a lot of bands do. " Debka" is the rocker for this album with one riff played over and over by each other of the members include vocals singng the same riff , great guitar soloing and piano as well. "dinosaurus jr." shifts from so many moods so cleverly and in such elegancy , I really can't describe this song , it starts very psychedelic and then goes gentle giant like and some maybe jade warrior like, amazing stuff , it goes through rock fusion jazz all blend together like it was one style. Closing song has a very emotional feel with that jazzy soft vibe and those vocals , it then changes and has a very dramatic atmosphere , this is five stars music right there great flute and drums pounding the way and some crazy piano and then suddenly goes back to the main riff forgetting everything happened a second ago.
I am left with no words for conclusion but I must ... Prog lovers get this , I must say it does not reveal it greatness right away like so many other albums , so have a few spins. Anyway great piece of 70's prog rock of the highest caliber , original music and so much fun too. I also must say very good recording and mixing which is a wonder for me because of all the crapy recording in the 70's especially for prog. Essential and a must have, five stars with no hesitation!!....by Sagichim ..........

 This curious little release from an obscure one-album wonder Israeli prog outfit is an eye- opening collection of progressive tunes which draw heavily from the more mellow side of jazz fusion and the Canterbury scene. With guitar tones often reminiscent of Phil Miller's work in Hatfield, flute from band leader Shem-Tov Levi which reminds me of some of the more gentle works of Camel or Jade Warrior, and an overall atmosphere which harks back to the first two Return to Forever albums, this is a delightful exploration of more laid-back aspects of the subgenres it draws from and, through this mix of influences, comes up with something truly unique. Special mention has to be made of the excellent vocals from Yehudith Ravitz, who'd go on to have a rather successful solo career after this release....... by Warthur ...............

An interesting band from Israel that produced only (shamefully) a single album back in 1977. Featuring both female and male vocals, all singing in Hebrew (I'm assuming) and with complicated, interweaving harmonies, the band produced some outstanding jazz-inspired Progressive Rock on their lone album. Especially enjoyable are the extended flute excursions on various tracks along with the occasional reed instrument, violin/fiddle, and the addition of extra percussion instruments sprinkled throughout, which gives added dimension and sophistication to their sound.

I hear a bit of Gentle Giant and Jethro Tull (thanks, obviously, to the flute), as well as a touch of Caravan and Camel in their overall sound, along with a smattering of influences from Jazz-Rock/Fusion bands such as Return To Forever and Weather Report. The keyboardist (notable for the heavy use of jazzy piano) is also worth mentioning as well as the band's rhythm section, which seems to have quite a lot of fun tossing in shifting rhythms and odd time signatures...............

Well, wow. I hardly expected to hear something like this from The Middle East(Israel). What they've done here is a hyper-interesting, semi-progressive mix of tracks that draw a lot of influences from the sombre isles of Great Britain and even beyond that. The core sound is driven by the melodic catalyst of the "Canterbury" bands - which is quite bright, humor-like and warm. Piano and a masterful flute are in the forefront(check out "Colours"), generating some fantastic soundscapes, reminiscent of bands like Camel(also the guitar work).

The use of counterpoint, and some of the arrangements hint at a Gentle Giant influence. These are some of the best harmonies i've ever heard on a progressive album, and the solo singer is also angellic. There's also a notable jazzy edge with some latin-fusion tracks in the mid and B-side. "7/8" is the one i like the most with it's pristine fusion of warm and cool makes it a real standout track here for me. Also check out the cool funky Return To Forever vibes in "Dinosaurus Jr". Light as a Feather seems to have been a huge inspiration for the creation of this great piece of music here.

A rare breed of eclectic prog with a strong jazzy bloodstream that you don't encounter very often. Highly recommended........King_Insano ...............

Eponymous album by this Israeli group led by Shem Tov Levy, who also wrote almost all the music, and including the best local musicians at the time. This Prog / Jazz-Rock outfit created a great blend of western, Latin and middle-eastern music, which sounds as fresh today as it did at the time of the recording. Lead vocals are by Yehudith Ravitz, who later became a major Israeli star. The compositions are heavily influenced by Prog (Gentle Giant in particular) and the album ranks among Israel’s all time best albums. The beautiful new edition includes as a bonus the extra-rare (just a few copies of the original LP are known to be in existence) second album by Sheshet, never previously released on CD, which the group recorded as soundtrack of the Israeli film “The Stretcher March” (see note). The only vocal track on the second album is sung by no other than Gidi Gov, who also played a leading role in the film. The reissue of this album is a major feast for the Israeli Prog discography.


Side note: Following the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the Israeli society entered a period of major upheaval and a radical re-examination of its values and social / political perspectives. The pioneering and bold film “The Stretcher March” was the first of its kind to openly examine the moral and psychological difficulties faced by soldiers in the IDF, a subject that was a complete taboo beforehand. This film and later other similar films and books written / published in the late 1970’s were all a result of this fascinating period in Israel’s society formative years......by.......Jazzis ...........

Line-up / Musicians
Shmulik Aroch/bass, percussion, vocals
Shmulik Budagov/guitar, vocals
Shem-Tov Levi/flute, recoder, vocals
Ikie Levi/drums, percussion
Adi Renert/keyboards, vocals
Yehudith Ravitz/guitar, percussion, vocals

Tracklist
1 ענבלים = Cymbals 4:55
2 צבעים = Aquarel 6:47
3 סמבה ברגל שמאל = All-Thumbs Samba 3:30
4 7/8 4:09
5 לו באת = If You Had Come 2:42
6 בלילות הסתיו = Autumn Nights 4:40
7 דבקה = Debka 6:12
8 דינוזוארוס הבן = Dinosaurus Jr. 6:36
9 פה מינור = F Minor 6:26

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