Long known for his long dreadlocks and immense backing bands, Israeli composer/producer/keyboardist/musical ambassador Idan Raichel has cut back a bit for his latest album – “And if You Will Come to Me” (Cumbancha) – and is now able to perform in more intimate settings, such as City Winery in Boston where he will appear on March 19.
In addition to shaving his head, Raichel has also cut the regular roster of supporting talents that he has featured on past albums.
When asked how he selects who will perform with him on any given album, track, or tour, Raichel tries on a director’s hat (in addition to all he already regularly wears) and suggests that, a song is like a “script” and the songwriter or producer (two roles that he often fills simultaneously) needs to “cast the principle character to play the main role. “
When asked what kind of “film” the new album represents, Raichel replies that it is “documentary piece of the last two years.” During this period, Raichel decided to “take a step back” from his work with his long-time band, The Idan Raichel Project in order to focus on solo and small ensemble pieces.
“The album is an accurate representation of the freedom I experienced in the last two years,” he says.
Among the “cast” for the new album are such stars as Zehava Ben, Berry Sakharof, Danay Suarez, and the Idan Raichel Project. Among the elements of the “script” are ideas Raichel gathered during a 2017 appearance on the Latin Grammy Awards and his touring and travels to India, Africa, and around the world. Though the sphere of influence is massive, Raichel has become adept at translating and even transliterating international music for the individual listener and those talents will sure be on display at his Boston show.
When asked who his primary influences and inspirations were, Raichel explains that is was “the love of music that my parents installed in me and my siblings and the fact that the whole extended family was surrounded by music – not in a professional way but out of love” that got him started down his own creative path.
Among the many musical stories Raichel recalls of his family is the legend in which his father traveled to Argentina to visit a brother after WWII and returned to Israel with only an accordion (an instrument that Raichel’s mother also plays).
“I think it’s a beautiful thing,” Raichel says. “Out of all the things he could have brought back … he decides to bring back the accordion. I think that feeling is what made me fall in love with music!”
As his life has led him to many different countries and cultures, Raichel has exponentially added to the list of instruments he plays and the people with whom he plays them. His long-time band – The Idan Raichel Project – counts nearly 100 performers among its members. Even so, Raichel maintains that each song comes from an individual story.
“It always comes down to a conversation I had with someone or a situation I could connect to,” he says. “[At] the end of the day, the human story is always the inspiration to any of my creations, whether it’s musical or lyrical.”
Though he will be alone on stage at City Winery, Raichel promises to bring all his sounds and influences with him and to use them to create an intimate but expansive evening of entertainment and cultural enrichment for all involved.
“It’s a great time for thinking, being spontaneous, time to reevaluate, to look deep inside and questions,” he observes. “I really love performing and creating with the Project, but I also need some ‘me time.’”