When Shlomo Bar started making music professionally in the mid-1970s, there was no such thing as “world music.” So he helped create it.
Bar, a Moroccan-born Israeli, founded Habrera Hativit in the late ’70s as a band whose music would be a creative fusion of the many different sounds of Sephardic and Mizrahic music. Thirty years and 11 albums later, Habrera Hativit is still one of the most dynamic ensembles in world music, energetic purveyors of a unique kind of Sephardic funk whose origins span the entire Mediterranean and points much farther east, as their Los Angeles appearance on June 25 at the Scottish Rite Auditorium will undoubtedly prove.
That fusion of influences, Bar has said, is nothing more than a reflection of the reality of the Israeli experience.
“Basically, as we are a culture that is combined of Jews from different countries, every musician is opening a window to the culture that he represents,” Bar says. “Habrera is absorbing the different influences. Different styles of music from the different continents can be noticed between one CD and another. A new layer is added every time a new member joins the group.”
In its current configuration, the number of influences on the band’s seven members is as global as the Diaspora’s history. Bar is originally from Rabat and brings both Moroccan and contemporary Israeli sounds to the group. Other members come from France, Iran, India and Turkey, from flamenco and modern jazz. In short, wherever there have been Sephardic Jews, their music is part of the mix.
“I believe that music is the language of its own place — location, surroundings,” Bar wrote. “The Jewish nation is very old [but] with [a] new present. The meeting between me and the Indian [and Iranian and Turkish] is not just an interesting musical meeting, rather the language and the joint memory is the main connection between us.”
Hence, one assumes, the group’s name, which means “natural gathering” or “natural choice.”
Habrera Hativit will play Saturday, June 25 at 7:30 p.m. at the Scottish Rite Auditorium, 4357 Wilshire Blvd. For information visit www.ICCScottishRite.com or www.shlomobar.com, or call (323) 930-9806.
George Robinson is the film and music critic for Jewish Week. His book, “Essential Torah,” will be published by Shocken Books in fall 2006.