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The Spirit and Vocalastics
of Ayelet Rose Gottlieb



The Spirit and Vocalastics of Ayelet Rose Gottlieb

The unvarnished beauty that ensues when art and science meet and then go hand in hand is sometimes expressed via the magisterium of the intellect – such as in the extraordinary manner in which it unfolds in Douglas Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, or how the mind expands with a deep-dive into the mind-altering etchings of Maurits Escher, the ineffably brilliant logic of Kurt Gödel and the incomparable music of J.S. Bach. Or Fibonacci, and his magical sequence that follows from there. At other times it can also come from the seemingly random nature of improvised music in which the elemental intuition of the creative mind collides with the science of sound – a sonic rush that comes when the motor and auditory areas in the cerebrum of the brain; the parietal lobe where orientation, where recognition and perception connive to process the rhythm of the music. At the height of the creativity that ensues melodies may develop and songs emerge.

The principal character in the expression of this magic is the human voice. Such is the artistry that could emerge that few can predict what mystic beauty can ensue. But in the best of situations it is all worth capturing for the results are the best proof of the soaring nature of the human spirit. Ayelet Rose Gottlieb has captured this more times than I can remember on her enchanting recordings that have been issued over the years. Hers has been a journey that many musicians have sought to undertake in pursuit of the perfect song – that Holy Grail that all practitioners of the vocal arts have embarked upon – but few have come close to reaching. Miss Gottlieb too may not have done so yet, but no one has come as close achieving this than she has.

Photograph by Peter Vit

Ayelet Rose Gottlieb is an artist of the first order, broadening out from traditional Jewish repertory to free improvisation for which she is best known. Her instrument is gorgeous: lustrous, precise and feather-light. Her musicianship is fierce as she digs into the expression of every word and every sound; and she brings ceaseless variety to soft dynamics, giving every phrase a special grace. All of these gifts and characteristics of her unique style of vocalastics is brought together in these profound performances, supported by artists such as Erik Lawrence and Anat Fort – both musicians whose artistry proves mutually illuminating.

Ayelet Rose Gottlieb & Erik Lawrence: I Carry Your Heart

This premier recording has a special atmosphere of dedication about it. Inspired by a 1969 voyage undertaken by the great saxophonist Arnie Lawrence with bassist Richard Davis, pianist Dick Hyman and drummer and percussionist Ed Shaugnessey, Miss Gottlieb combines forces with Erik Lawrence (son of the legendary horn-man), pianist Anat Fort, and literally feeding off the chorus of yelps, whoops and vocalastics of (Miss Gottlieb’s) children, the vocalist interlaces her own melodic phrases into piano, saxophone and flute harmonic lines that bop and weave in and out of the ensuring improvisations. An organic rhythm is also developed as all the musicians and children bring to the music vocal expressions, mixed in with sounds produced by an assortment of percussion instruments. The result is music that fills two discs, is light in complexion, often rises to visionary heights and will leave you in a state of rapt and often mystical wonderment.    

Track list – Volume I: 1: I Carry Your Heart; 2: Beads/ Love Is A Place; 3: Little Dance; 4: Maia’s Song; 5: Water; 6: When Children Find (v.2); 7: Long Melt; 8: I Carry Your Heart (v.2)/ Bye bye; 9: Arnie, I Wanna Talk To You. Volume II: 1: Lulling; 2: When Children Find; 3: Maia’s Rhythm; 4: Mama’s Beat; 5: Maia’s Jam; 6: Love Is A Place (v.2); 7: Butterfly Blues

Personnel – Erik Lawrence: saxophones, flutes, bells, mbira, tuning forks, singing bowl and voice; Ayelet Rose Gottlieb: voice, bells, breast pump (4 on Volume II); Anat Fort: piano, toy piano, mbira and voice; Ma’or Moshe Levavi: voice, piano, toy piano, harmonica, bells, crackers, mini-harp; Yasmin Venezia Levavi: voice, piano, toy piano, percussion, crackers, water tap; Maia Michelle Levavi: voice and bells

Released – 2019
Label – Ride Symbol (RID-CD-23)
Runtime – Volume I – 56:27 Volume II – 37:33

Pneuma: Who Has Seen The Wind?

Although seemingly less is left to chance on this disc by Ayelet Rose Gottlieb and the (essentially) clarinet trio of James Falzone, François Houle and Michael Winograd, the musicians combine with Miss Gottlieb to create music where notes seem to leap off the page and into the air, there to intertwine and dance in magical forms mirroring something infinitely more complex than the double helix. The enchanted complexity arises from the pursuit of a desire to render the purity of “Breath”, “Spirit” and the more elusive “Soul” represented, of course, by the title, which is taken from the Greek word “Pneuma”. Miss Gottlieb’s springboard is poetry by James Joyce (“Alone”), Richard Jeffery Newman (“Light”), Forugh Farrokhzad (“The Wind Will Take Us”), Mayumi Terada, Christina Rossetti (“Who Has Seen the Wind?”), Tom Waits (“The Last Rose of Summer”) and  short, intimate love-poetry by Izumi Shikibu and Ono no Komachi. The musical journey is deeply affecting and profoundly beautiful. It takes us to a place where light and shadow collides as if in a forest of dreams. With Miss Gottlieb’s booklet notes as a rough guide, we can navigate this extraordinary journey, our spirits raised to a rarefied realm.

Track list – 1: Alone; 2: Neither I nor You/Pneuma; 3: Trembling/Light; 4: Passing Through/Lament for Harry; 5: Neither You nor I/Conversation with Ora; 6: Bow Down/The Wind Will Take Us; 7: Passing By/The Shape of Tears; 8: Pneuma – Who Has Seen The Wind? 9: Wakened by the Scent; 10: Who Can Say What Loneliness Is? 11: Ruined House; 12: This Pine Tree; 13: The Last Rose of Summer

Personnel – Ayelet Rose Gottlieb: voice; James Falzone: clarinet, Eb clarinet and shruti box; François Houle: clarinet and electronics; Michael Winograd: clarinet

Released – 2019
Label – Songlines (SGL 1629-2)
Runtime – 46:53

Video of “Wakened by the Heart” by Farhad Ghaderi

Based in Milton, Ontario, Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

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