Sephardic Treasures is a collection of traditional Sephardic songs in less traditional arrangements. The texts (Ladino and Spanish) and melodies are original and drawn from a collection of songs thought to originate in the 12th to 15th centuries. The arrangements, by bassist Alan Lewine, draw on jazz, flamenco and Israeli folk music incorporating instruments like bass, trumpet, flamenco guitar, piano, flute, shofar and percussion to create quite a range of styles that fit the texts well. All of this is grounded in the stylish and idiomatic singing of soprano Ana Maria Ruimonte. It’s fun listening. Some of the songs have that twisted, even gruesome, quality of a lot of medieval songs; husbands who have their wives executed, wives who feed their step children to their husbands etc, but others are very light hearted, like the one about the cat who is so surprised by a proposal of marriage that he falls off the roof and is killed but when they try to bury him in a sardine box the smell revives him!
The tracks were recorded in a variety of locations around the world but I didn’t notice any change of ambiance or acoustic and they all sound fine (I listened to 16 bit 44kHz WAV files). The album comes with useful histrical notes and full texts in the original language and English. The album, released on the Ansonica label, will be available in both physical and digital formats from July 24th 2020.