Tapper and Bridges          


Duo debuts new Jewish-music album in Wakefield

 

 

   By JILL ANDERSON
   OBSERVER STAFF 
   November 15, 2000

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 songs.

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 was made.

"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 played folk."

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," Tapper said.

"For one thing, there are a lot of different types of Jewish music," Bridges said. "A lot of it is influenced by the region."

"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 and meaningful."

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 Bar Mitzvahs.

"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 time."

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.