Craig Taubman is one of the biggest names in contemporary Jewish music, and he’s got a newly released album that I want to tell you about. That’s not where I want to start, though. I’m going to start…at the beginning! This being “The Music Mamas” and all, I just figured it would be important to briefly mention how Craig first found fame.
In the early 90′s, Craig recorded children’s music, and he was often seen on the Disney Channel and live in concert at Disneyland. One of his hits back then was “Haircut”.
After making a name for himself in that part of the music industry, Craig branched out into what he is really famous for today, Jewish music. Totally talented in creating new arrangements for traditional songs and blessings as well as from-scratch pieces, he’s got a great fan base that is ready to devour each new release as quickly as he can produce them.
It might come as a surprise to people who know me as an electronica-lovin’, hip-hop jammin’, Top 40-pop princess that I really enjoy music that quiets my soul just as much, but it’s true. My go-to musical zen is…Craig Taubman. My personal favorite of Craig’s is his “Friday Night Live” album. I have never enjoyed a collection of Jewish music as much as this one. The music is from the popular “Friday Night Live” services that he and Rabbi David Wolper created for the young Jewish professionals of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. The music on that album is beautiful, joyous, contemplative, peaceful, and breathtaking. My favorite place to listen to it is in the kitchen, while I’m making dinner. Sigh…
Craig’s current release is called “How Good”. When I was offered a copy of it for review, I jumped on that opportunity faster than you can say, uh, well, just about anything. (Ask Rachel, who works for Craig. She’ll vouch.) While I was waiting for the physical copy of the CD to arrive from California, I enjoyed a download of “Rise Up”, and read up on the significance of “How Good.” For this one, Craig “joined forces” with Behrman House (a Jewish publisher). Behrman house has a siddur (prayerbook) called Siddur Mah Tov: A Family Shabbat Prayerbook, and the music of “How Good” was made to accompany it. Craig isn’t alone on this CD; he is joined by some friends who just happen to be other huge names in Jewish music of today: Debbie Friedman, Alberto Mizrahi, Michelle Citrin, and Josh Nelson.
So what did I think of it? I loved it from the first time I played it all the way through. And the second, and the third. And the twentieth. The music has a “world” vibe to it, and it makes me smile. The collaborations between Craig and the others resulted in a magical, beautiful slice of tradition mixed with a taste of contemporary spice. My favorites? “Rise Up”, “Modeh Ani”, “Acceptable”, and most of all, “Barchu”. Pure heaven for the ears.
“How Good” is THAT GOOD. Spread the word.