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The Chassidic Jazz Project - The Band, The History & Reuben Hoch's Vision

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What is the Chassidic Jazz Project?
The Chassidic Jazz Project was formed in 1998 to fill a void in Jazz and World Music and is dedicated to bringing the music of the Jewish people to a larger audience by using jazz as a vehicle for musical expression. The Chassidic Jazz Project is comprised of seven musicians, including its leader, veteran jazz drummer and composer Reuben Hoch and internationally renowned percussionist Robert Thomas. CJP has an interesting and unusual instrumentation that includes, viola and cello, creating a gorgeous chamber music effect, and blends elements of jazz, fusion and new world, to create a multi-cultural sound that can be described as liturgical music at its best.

The ensemble has performed for over 10,000 people throughout South Florida at venues including The Broward Center for the Performing Arts, The Hollywood Jazz Festival and Sunfest. Under the leadership of Rueben Hoch, CJP released a live recording of its January 2001 performance at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts featuring guest pianist Don Friedman and Bobby Thomas Jr. This unique and multi-cultural sound has attracted fans of all types of music and all ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

What is the history of the Chassidic Jazz Project?
The birth of the Chassidic Jazz Project occurred in conjunction with the celebration of Israel's 50th anniversary at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, Florida in 1998. This performance featured guitarist Tom Lippincott and Reuben Hoch. In the years prior to this performance, Reuben Hoch, the group leader and drummer, was urged by Dizzy Gillespie's manager, Charles Fishman, and bassist Jeff Andrews to unfold his heritage by applying his jazz abilities to his religious background. After relocating to South Florida in 1996, Reuben was commissioned by the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood in 1998 to hold a performance in celebration of Israel's 50th anniversary. Reuben chose to perform Chassidic melodies set to jazz arrangements, as these melodies are close to his heart and part of his Jewish Orthodox upbringing. The liturgical origin of the group's material is clearly different from klezmer music.

In 2001, the Chassidic Jazz Project was invited to perform during the tenth anniversary season of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. The show was produced with support from the Broward Center's prestigious Arts Access Program. The crowd was mesmerized by the stunning performance, which featured local and internationally renowned musicians. To quote a listener, "It's here! This is a group that celebrates the music of the Jews as has never been done before." Reuben teamed up with the world-renowned percussionist, Robert Thomas Jr. who also resides in South Florida. The excitement created by these two masterful drummers places the Chassidic Jazz Project amongst the greatest jazz acts on the scene. Reuben speaks with enormous excitement regarding Bobby's contribution to the band; "Bobby has been one of my favorite musicians since his Weather Report days. As a member of the Chassidic Jazz Project, we're able to take the band to new heights." Reuben also recognizes the contribution of guitarist Tom Lippincott. Tom has been with the group since the very beginning. His unique sound and creative arrangements have provided a framework for original expression. In Reuben's opinion, Tom Lippincott is one of the most creative musicians out there. The group's interesting instrumentation of viola, cello, saxophone, guitar, bass, drums and percussion, creates a gorgeous chamber music effect. In his approach to the Chassidic Jazz Project, Reuben draws on the influence of musicians that include Charles Mingus, Joe Zawinul and Charlie Haden.


1) About the Band

2) Stage

3a) Info Sheet page 1

3B) Info Sheet page 2

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