Matthue Roth
Koby Israelite, p. 2

Considering Koby's relative immaturity in a genre where most professionals are seventy years old and speaking dead languages, he has acquired a remarkable fluency. "Toledo Five Four" is a cover of a Ladino melody, and "Diego," which most white people would assume is about some dude from East Harlem, is a Romanian traditional wedding song. It's the kind of schooling that makes being a hipster worthwhile.

And then, of course, there's the interpolation of the Simpsons theme during the title track.

Zeek: There's a some Ladino stuff going on, which is really cool, especially when you put it up against all the European klezmer themes that Jewish jazz musicians usually use. But then you have all these esoteric titles, like "Toledo Five Four" and "2nd of Tamuz."
Koby: I play most of the instruments myself so it's kinda hard to jam with myself. So when I basically know the structure of the song I record the leading instrument (accordion, guitar) then I record the drum track and bass track. All the overdubs come later. There's definitely a Jewish motive involved. Whether it's klezmer, Ladino, Sephardic, cantorial, Middle Eastern or Balkan. "Toledo Five Four" is a traditional Ladino song. Sang at the Sabbath table. The title is a kinda word game. Hawaii Five-Oh/Toledo Five Four. . . . The time signature of the tune is five four, so there you go.

Talking with Koby is bizarre and chaotic. In the middle, he starts asking me about my favorite song of his, my high-school Britpop band, what I think of Metallica. The song "2nd of Tamuz" was actually recorded during a Jewish wedding reception, a tribute to Koby's day job while recording the album.

Dance of the Idiots is half a Sunday-morning brunch album and half a Saturday-night slam-your-friends-against-the-wall-dancing record. Sometimes, during the clarinet-and-accordion breakbeat groove of "Dance of the Idiots," it's both at once. Throwing your friends against the wall during a hardcore klezmer breakdown-it's either a Korn conversion class or a gay yeshiva boy's wet dream, right?

The world is about to find out. Koby is currently wrapping up the recording of his second album, still untitled. As soon as he's finished mastering, Koby plans to assemble a band and play his songs live-something that, as virtually the only performer on most of the songs on his album, he's never done before.

"Hopefully by early next year I'll have my band ready to kick some arse," he says. "In comparison to the second album, the first one is an easy listening music for retired Jewish ladies."

The metal aesthetic in jazz. Yeah, if there's one thing we can expect from Koby Israelite, it's unpredictability. And that suits him just fine.

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Image: Koby Israelite

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