Jewish music is a difficult
sound to pinpoint. The rhythms tend to flow together at
all different paces, which paves the way for entrancing melodies
by the flute, at least in the case of musicians Steve Tapper
and Audie Bridges. Their latest album, "Shalom Aleichem,"
covers 72 minutes of Jewish music, which ranges from peaceful
and soothing to upbeat and danceable.
The turn to Jewish music represents a deeper exploration of
Jewish music for the veteran duo. Throughout the years their
music has consisted of instrumental pieces ranging in styles
from Brazilian jazz, New Age, folk and world music. They have
produced two albums including "Island Dance", an original
album which got much radio play throughout the country, and "Simple
Gifts," an instrumental collection of Christmas/Hanukkah
Ten years have passed since they released "Simple Gifts,"
their last CD. Now, they are gearing up for the release of their
third album, "Shalom Aleichem", which means "Peace
to You." Unlike their past releases which dabbled in Jewish
music, the entire album is comprised of some covers and original
tunes, written from a Jewish tradition.
Tapper and Bridges will celebrate the release of "Shalom
Aleichem" on Saturday, Nov. 18 at the Temple Emmanuel on
120 Chestnut Street in Wakefield.
Thirteen years ago, Bridges, of Wakefield and Tapper, of Stoughton,
met through a chance meeting. While both studied at Berklee College
of Music,they never actually met on the campus. Practically 20
years later, at a chance meeting, Bridges, 51 and Tapper, 49,
discovered they had similar music tastes. Thus, a musical match
"We just hit it off," Bridges said.
"I really wanted to play jazz with the flute and acoustic
guitar," Tapper said. "At the time, it was hard to
find a jazz quitarist who played acoustic -- most acoustic guitarists
However, Bridges was fully trained at the New England Conservatory
of Music in jazz guitar and seemed to fit exactly what Tapper
was looking for. It wasn't long before they combined Bridge's
guitar playing and Tapper's flute playing.
"Right from the start, Jewish music was introduced in our
repertoire," Tapper said.
Jewish music,as Tapper describes it,has so many different styles
that it is hard to define. "It is kind of indefinable, it
is like trying to define jazz -- it is a hard thing to describe,"
"For one thing, there are a lot of different types of Jewish
music," Bridges said. "A lot of it is influenced by
"I look at it like, is it based on a Jewish theme, if
it sounds Jewish or is written by a Jewish composer," Tapper
said. "If it has two of those three, then I think it is
Jewish. If I'm playing at an event and it makes people feel more
connected to the culture then it is Jewish music."
Tapper had already grown up around that style of music in
his Jewish home. However, Bridges, who is not Jewish, really
enjoyed the music and caught on right away.
"I had played Jewish music in the past. I liked it because
I could finger pick," Bridges said.
Tapper started relating the rhythms of Jewish music to Bridges
through more modern songs. This allowed the two to work together
in a conducive way. "We learned them in the right context,"
Tapper said. "Right from the start it was very tasteful
As their musical style grew, they got more and more gigs in the
Jewish community. In fact, their names became well known through
their performances at temples and private parties, especially
"It got around by word of mouth," Tapper said.
Both engaged the Jewish community through their works at Bar
Mitzvahs. Eventually their music brought them small scale fame
-- at least in the Jewish community.
"One time a woman said to me at a party, 'You don't know
how often middle-class Jewish woman get together and talk about
you guys'," Tapper said. "It is like the way a rock
band builds a following by playing clubs. We kind of built a
following playing Bar Mitzvahs."
Fans started making requests for an album.
"The way the Jewish album evolved is people started asking
for a Jewish album and we really enjoy the music - it is beautiful,"
Tapper said. "Also, we were being playing at WJIB - people
wondered why it wasn't included. So, it was sort of always in
the back of our mind."
It took two-and-a-half years to produce the newest CD.
"There is a lot of pressure when you are in the studio,"
Bridges said. "You have to be perfect. It really is a craft.
Most people think you go on in and lay it down, but it takes
When not working together, both musicians have plenty to keep
them busy. Tapper performs in nursing homes and works on side
projects like a recorder duet. However, Tapper said that working
with Bridges is his primary focus. Bridges teaches guitar at
the Music Emporium in Lexington and will occasionally play with
other acts if he is asked.
Tapper and Bridges' performance at the Temple Emmanuel
starts at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18. Tickets cost $10 at
the door. For more information contact: (781) 246-2836.