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Fragments

In his first album, vocalist and talented multi-instrumentalist Yoni Avi Battat, returns to his cultural roots with a beautiful, carefully created album of pieces that immediately transport to the world of Arabic music with a Jewish influence. 

Not an ordinary debut album, Fragments features lyrics in Arabic, Hebrew, English, and Yiddish, which carries on a long legacy of Iraq-Jewish musicians who populated the city that once was Bagdad and can still be found and enjoyed there, spite the beleaguered modern history of the region.

But as an American Jew how do you go about putting together the pieces of a music history which has in many ways, been handed down through history and family. Battat wanted to be able to trace these musical traditions and found himself on most unexpected journey, one that has created Fragments; small segments of sound and poetry that captured the many aspects of daily life in the middle eastern regions.  

It became important to find the beauty in amongst the tragic fragments of time. To do this he began with Arabic poetry, family history and much more before he began to put the pieces together, to not only tell the story of his ancestors but also to see his story was one that entwined with every fragment he discovered.

The music reflects this in the quirky piece What would you a say?, as Battat tries to follow his grandmother’s recipe, eventually being told to ‘Take it slow. Take it easy. Trust your hands’. Sage advice indeed.

Erica Elkselassy leads in the beautiful Will Her Love Remember before being joined by the deep vocals of Battat to make this a stand out track. The music, which is wrapped around a traditional Hebrew poem from the 10th century, is thought to have been written by a woman. It is considered as one of few remaining pieces of poetry from this time in Hebrew history. Wistful and emotive the woman is sharing her deepest emotions though the simple lines of poetry as she grieves for her husband who has had to flee to Spain. Will she remember him?

El Eliyahu once again sees family contributing to the lyrics as Razi Battat, Yonis Great Uncle and last of the family to have been born in Iraq, joins in with great gusto adding a deep resonance and vibrancy to the music.

The delicate From the Fragments commences in English and draws the album to a close with a beautiful reflection on life. A gentle, almost prayer like poetry style tells about Battat studying hard to discover who he is, where he is going and his learning to accept the many colours and hues of his world.

The work is contemporary, reaching out to cross boundaries, to bring the amazing sections of a multicultural world into one beautiful picture built from Fragments of a time and a place, that is in so many ways never to be seen again.

Website https://yoniavibattat.bandcamp.com/album/fragments
Distributor yoniavibattat.bandcamp.com
Released September 2022
Artists Yoni Avi Battat