Review of a new CD from Efrat
and WFDU-FM’s TRADITIONS Playlist for November 1 & 15, 2015
I met Efrat several years ago when she came into the studios of WFDU-FM to perform with Spuyten Duyvil. The original fiddler for the band had recently left the group, and Efrat was just getting her feet wet with the Americana band. Efrat added a new dimension to the Spuyten Duyvil sound with her background playing violin for jazz, classical and rock (among other styles).
Growing up in Tennessee, Efrat has been exposed to country, bluegrass and folk as well as Klezmer and Israeli music that her father loved. She started playing the violin at the age of 7 and by the time she was 10 years old Efrat would become the youngest person to play solo with the Oak Ridge Symphony. She would also become the youngest person to be admitted to the Knoxville Youth Orchestra. When it came time for college, Efrat received scholarships from some of the top classical violin schools in the country, before deciding to attend Indiana University. While there, she also became a member of the Shira Festival Orchestra in Israel, conducted by Zubin Mehta under the direction of Lorin Maazel. An injury forced her to take a break from her studies, but she eventually resumed and received a Masters Degree in Music Performance from the University of Tennessee. She became a bandleader during this period while also playing jazz violin for a group known as the Rusty String Jazz Quintet.
Not one to settle, Efrat continued to explore the variety of musical styles that would welcome her violin. She kept her musical experiences open to a variety of opportunities. She would become a Concertmaster for the Oliva Newton John Orchestra and continue to expand her love for singing and jazz. Her first CD was released in 2009 and was a celebration of swing tunes and romantic ballads that showcased her remarkable skills as a vocalist as well as instrumentalist.
With Spuyten Duyvil, Efrat was introduced to a new audience and musical community. Efrat’s skills on the violin fit in with the musical explorations that are common in the roots/folk world and audiences welcomed her into the community.
After spending some time with Spuyten Duyvil, Efrat decided to concentrate on her own musical vision, and the result is a powerful CD called “The Silver Lining.” This CD is quite different from the jazzy offerings on her first recording, but she does not forget her own roots. Efrat blends the jazz, folk, pop, klezmer, swing and old-time traditions that have led her to this point. The result is a pleasing collection of 12 tunes, including a couple of covers and original compositions. As Efrat notes, the songs she chose are a testament to finding strength during life’s ups and downs and finding support from the community around you.
With her skills as violinist and vocalist already quite evident to live audiences, it is appropriate that Efrat’s songwriting skills get a chance to shine on “The Silver Lining” with 8 of the 12 songs composed by this versatile artist. One of my favorite songs on the CD is “Bring Me Peace”, a cut that begins with a gorgeous string arrangement and leads into a work of art that deals with coping in a world filled with tragedies as we search for healing and peace. It is a much needed addition to the soundtrack of our lives.
The bluesy “Love Kicked the Devil” gives Efrat and her band a chance to dig in their heels and have some fun with an empowering song where love comes out the winner. Another uplifting song is “Heaven Down Here” that reminds us to believe in the power of love and seize opportunity.
Efrat chose several cover songs that also reflect the theme of finding that silver lining. “Keep on the Sunny Side” is a standout cut, and it gives Efrat a chance to show her diversity by adding a bit of western swing to the classic Carter Family Song. The CD concludes with Pete Seeger’s “Turn, Turn, Turn” – a fitting finale to a collection of songs that will inspire and give us hope in our day to day lives.
I hope that Efrat’s music and performances will be enjoyed by audiences all across the nation. She is living in New Jersey, raising her son as a single mom, and giving us welcome music to brighten our days. Efrat is an artist with a lot to offer at a time when all of us can use a reminder to look for that silver lining.
Click below to hear Efrat and her band on
WFDU-FM’s TRADITIONS with Ron Olesko,
recorded live on November 1, 2015