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Rock and improvisational jazz influences have been blended with klezmer and Jewish music traditions to create the trance-like dance music of Berkeley, CA-based octet Mozaik. Their musical hybrid has been called psychedelic Jewgrass, klezmer-trance music, and Fiddler on the Roof-meets-the Grateful Dead. The Jewish Bulletin described a concert by Mozaik as combining hypnotic guitar riffs with a deep bass backdrop, and with a saxophonist who looked like Flash Gordon and blew like Sonny Rollins. Forward magazine described the group as an eight-person act whose loopy costumes made them look like a white version of George Clinton's P-Funk All Stars. A writer for the High Sierra Music Festival observed that Mozaik takes the jamming approach that often employs jazz sensibilities and brings tribal-trance to Masada-like enormity with tabla, mandolin, violin, dumbek, bass clarinet, and more.
Mozaik was launched at the University of California-Berkeley as a duo featuring guitar, mandolin, saz, bells, seeds, and shells player Brett Jacobson; keyboardist Peter Kafin; and an ever-changing cast of supporting musicians. In the early '90s, Jacobson and Kafin were invited to accompany Hasidic teacher and Jewish musician Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach on a tour of Morocco. The two musicians continued to perform with Carlebach in Israel, New York, and California. The experience sparked a passion for traditional Jewish melodies and niggun (Hebrew for melody without words). A highlight of Mozaik's touring schedule is an annual concert that celebrates Chanukah in San Francisco. Jacobson and Kafin, who holds a Master's degree in music therapy, share an interest in the healing powers of music. In 1994, Jacobson founded a music therapy organization.
In the mid-'90s, Mozaik settled on a more formal lineup that included contrabass, electric bass, shofar, and sampler player Justin Katz; violin, fiddle, and saw player Morgan Fichter; and saxophone, flute, bass clarinet, and slide whistle player Shroeder. The rhythm section features tabla, dumbek, traps, flute, and clabash player and vocalist Aharone Bolsta; riqq (Middle Eastern tambourine), zills (finger cymbal), and dumbek player Jen Miriam; and traps and percussion player Patrick Kaliski. ~ Craig Harris