Sonic treasures from Ottoman Jewish Los Angeles

By: Ayla Cline,  A&S Communications
Mon, 10/21/2019

Explore treasures of Sephardic Jewish music culture at Book of J’s performance of “LA Archivera” on Monday, Nov. 11, at 8 pm in Cornell University’s Barnes Hall Auditorium. The free event will feature mid-century Los Angeles and 20th-Century Jewish Ottoman music traditions. The public is invited.

In “LA Archivera,” Book of J members, Jewlia Eisenberg and Jeremiah Lockwood, arrange and compose new music based on Emily Sene's sonic archive and in conversation with her sites of migration. In the 1950’s, Emily Sene, a Sephardic Jew from Turkey, began to drive around L.A., picking up unwanted records from other Turkish Jews and recording singers in her community. With no institutional support or formal training, she became the most important collector of Sephardic song in the Americas. Her archive, housed in the University of California, Los Angeles, Ethnomusicology Archive, celebrates joyous sensuality, language diversity and an aesthetic informed by her journey: Edirne, Turkey, - Havana - Los Angeles.  

Book of J has received accolades from reviewers around the world. The BBC called them “a wonder of haunted American roots music, taking listeners from Yiddish laments to labor anthems via mystical twists and turns.”

Jewlia Eisenberg, singer in Book of J, is a musician and composer working at the intersection of voice, text and diaspora consciousness.  Her music is mostly released with John Zorn's Tzadik label on the Radical Jewish Culture imprint. Her installation work has been curated into the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco and the Museum of Peace in Uzbekistan; she performs regularly in Europe and the Americas. She has been a visiting artist at CalArts, MIT, and the University of Colorado.

Jeremiah Lockwood, guitarist and singer in Book of J, has played around the world from Montreal Jazz to the Festival au Desert in Timbuktu, Mali, as the leader of The Sway Machinery and as the guitarist in the Balkan Beat Box. Jeremiah was a recipient of a Six Points Fellowship for Emerging Jewish Artists, an Artist-in-Residence for the Forward and a Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra Composer Fellow.  He is currently completing a PhD on Khasidic cantorial music at Stanford University. 

Sponsors of the event include the Cornell University Jewish Studies Program, Department of Music, Department of Romance Studies, American Studies Program, Latino/a Studies Program, and Binghamton University Department of Judaic Studies.

More information about “LA Archivera” at jewishstudies.cornell.edu.


   Performers