Shofarot Verses


                               Shofarot Verses on Tzadik         

PAUL SHAPIRO -- tenor, alto and soprano saxophones, shofar

MARC RIBOT -- guitar

BRAD JONES -- acoustic bass, vocals (track 7)

TONY LEWIS -- drums

special guest ADAM RUDOLPH  frame drum, udu drum, shakers, bell (track 9)

From “No one does it quite like Shapiro! Blending Soul and R&B with the Jewish tradition, Paul Shapiro's 3 CDs on Tzadik are some of our most joyful and critically acclaimed releases. His 4th release is another romp in the wild and wooly world of Rhythm and Jews, this time featuring a tight quartet performing Paul's original compositions in the Jewish bag. Distinguished by the searing guitar of Marc Ribot, this is a fabulous quartet of Downtown masters tearing loose on Paul's catchy Jewish hooks and riffs. Also included is an intimate duo with Yusef Lateef's longtime percussionist Adam Rudolph and a beautiful solo saxophone piece. Paul's 4th Tzadik cd is his most personal and best yet!


Sample SHOFAROT VERSES on Amazon: 

       Shofarot Verses- Live at Eldridge Street Synagogue     

2014 Jazz Critic’s Poll- Shofarot Verses is number 104Good company to be in!

104. Paul Shapiro, Shofarot Verses (Tzadik)

107. Wayne Horvitz, At the Reception (Songlines)

108. Harvey Mason, Chameleon (Concord)

110. Ivo Perelman, The Other Edge (Leo)

111. The Microscopic Septet, Manhattan Moonrise (Cuneiform)

115. Pharoah Sanders & the Underground, Spiral Mercury (Clean Feed)

118. Dave Liebman, A Tribute to Wayne Shorter (MAMA)

119. Ernie Watts, A Simple Truth (Flying Dolphin)

120. Medeski, Martin & Wood + Nels Cline, Woodstock Sessions,(Indirecto)



Tom Hull

Steve Lehman, Mise en Abime (Pi)

Paul Shapiro, Shofarot Verses (Tzadik)

Digital Primitives, Lipsomuch/Soul Searchin' (Hopscotch -13)

Velkro, Don't Wait for the Revolution (Clean Feed)

Revolutionary Snake Ensemble, Live Snakes (Accurate)

Ivo Perelman, The Other Edge (Leo)

Rent Romus, Cimmerian Crossroads (Edgetone)

Kris Davis, Waiting for You to Grow (Clean Feed)

Craig Handy, Craig Handy & 2nd Line Smith (Okeh)

Allen Lowe, Mulatto Radio: Field Recordings 1-4 (Constant Sorrow)

Jason Gubbels

Marc Ribot, Live at the Village Vanguard (Pi)

Paul Shapiro, Shofarot Verses (Tzadik)

Allen Lowe, Mulatto Radio: Field Recordings 1-4 (Constant Sorrow)

Wadada Leo Smith-Jamie Saft-Joe Morris-Balazs Pandi, Red Hill (Rare Noise)

Max Johnson, The Invisible Trio (Fresh Sound)

Elio Villafranca, Caribbean Tinge (Motéma)

Billy Hart, One Is the Other (ECM)

James Brandon Lewis, Divine Travels (Okeh)

John Hollenbeck-Alban Darche-Sébastien Boisseau-Samuel Blaser (Yolk)

Søren Kjærgaard-Ben Street-Andrew Cyrille, Syvmileskridt (ILK Music)

                     Shofarot Verses- PRESS


Saxophonist Paul Shapiro is one of the few who succeeded in blending organic soul and R&B with the Jewish tradition—the musical one and the liturgical texts—in a highly original, convincing manner. His fourth album for John Zorn's Tzadik label Radical Jewish Culture series enriches his unique and personal art.  Shapiro's musical universe is open, passionate and joyful. Shapiro knows how to spice his catchy arrangements of Jewish modes with a sharp sense of humor. Together with Ribot, the two set a steamy, soulful atmosphere that enjoys the infectious, driving rhythm section of Lewis and Jones. Ribot turns out to be a perfect partner. He brilliantly expands the music with wild, seductive surf-rock meets Cuban and Balkan-tinged solos, and challenges Shapiro on intense yet playful duels, and stressing the ecstatic emotional catharsis.

ARI DAVIDOW- KlezmerShack

From the opening moments of the very season-appropriate "Hashivenu" through the closing "With Reed and Skins" Shapiro manages to combine jazz and a sense of nusach (Ashkenazic Jewish cantorial modes) in ways that seek out that still small voice within us. At the same time, as on "Daven Dance," he reminds us that joy can physically move us. The shofar-like soprano sax impulsion on "Halil," with Ribot's answering guitar is one standout, followed by an actual shofar on "Ashamnu," which takes the familiar Yom Kippur melody to a new place of grace. The album's ethos is perhaps best expressed in the description of "Search your soul," "Finding solace in the house of B flat."


CHRIS SPECTOR- Midwest Record  

For every Jewish kid that thought he was over and done with it after his bar mitzvah, along comes apple cart up setter Shapiro with another set of rhythm and Jews with songs like “Get Me to the Shul on Time” that’s just so loaded with funk that even the most jaded, coked out stock broker with rotten kids and a bitch wife will jump up and kvell.  Basing the sounds on sounds from Rosh Hashanah, this stuff is often so close to “Pulp Fiction” that you’ll feel more like a schtarker such as Bugsy Siegel than the fat kid with glasses who is always picked last and gets to play ‘left out’ in school yard pick up games.  Utterly wild stuff that adds a new feather to the world beat cap.


So with all due respect for Zorn’s own Masada songbook enterprise, let us thank the game piece master for giving Paul Shapiro’s “Rhythm & Jews” project the distributive muscle it deserves. Opening with solo alto and closing with a reed/skins duet, these mostly first take cuts raid the melody banks of both Yom Kippur services and Dick Dale 45s, using a ram’s horn for a Joe Zawinul-colored meditation (“Ashamnu”) and foisting Cuban rhythms upon Phrygian modes (“In Phrygia”). Give it the fuck up for Marc Ribot, who channels all his Mickey Baker/Link Wray/Magic Sam fantasies into one rambunctious whole, the blues/r&b whiplash to his own Live At The Vanguard Coltrane/Ayler abrasions. But it’s Shapiro’s tunes, his Junior Walker soul, his “active prayer” leadership qualities that carry the day. In this dreadful moment for liberal Zionism, here’s a world dance party - the chitlin’ circuit as overseen by kibbutzniks.

ELLIOTT SIMON- New York City Jazz Record

The idea behind saxophonist Paul Shapiro’s Shofarot Verses, reimagining Jewish liturgical melodies and modes through a modern worldly jazz lens, is not a new one. What makes it so engaging though is the way Shapiro mixes in the blues, R&B, surf and other genres to create mature new music, not world jazz with token Jewish signifiers. With the help of this first-call Tzadik quartet, the band deftly avoids the dual pitfalls of turning the Jewishness into caricature and ‘overjazzing’ the music at the expense of its soul. Shapiro can be intensely spiritual. On the session

opener his mournful alto saxophone is a bluesy cantor praying for the people through the melody from “Shema Koleinu”, which morphs into an equally devotional “Hashivenu”. Marc Ribot’s jangly guitar is paired with Shapiro’s tenor for an appropriately transcendental “Ashamnu” while “Surfin Salami” takes advantage of Ribot’s quintessential surf punk guitar as he channels Dick Dale’s “Misirlou” in freygish. Bassist Brad Jones and drummer Tony Lewis are well acquainted with Shapiro’s soulful musical stew. They allow “Search Your Soul” to glide through its smoky hot course as Shapiro and Ribot trade hot solos. They do cook when needed and find a bit of reggae to give “Get Me to the Shul on Time” its immediacy and “In Phrygia” its polyrhythmical core. They turn “Daven Dance” into a two-tone take on Hasidic ecstasy and “Halil” into a Bo Diddley raver. Percussionist Adam Rudolph guests on “With Reeds and Skins”, closing out the session as an exotic Middle Easternduet. Throughout all of this, Shapiro and Ribot are most magical when they infuse their command of the blues into these worldly waters to lay bare a foundation of soulful bedrock. These are the moments when the sounds of the shofar are truly seen.

WILL LAYMAN- Pop Matters

By now, the vital wave of klezmer-inspired jazz that started and surged in the last 20-or-so years is hardly news. With John Zorn’s Tzadik record label and its “Radical Jewish Culture” series chronicling much of this trove of Eastern European melody wedded to swinging rhythms, you might think the world has had enough of the trend.

Paul Shapiro, however, keeps finding ways to enliven this music. Shofarot Verses is the latest of his amalgamations, and it’s his most focused effort in the stream of excellent recordings. This time out, Shapiro has asked Tzadik mainstay and guitarist Marc Ribot to join the band, bringing along bassist Brad Jones and drummer Tony Lewis. The result is an unusually raw and rocking affair, with Ribot coloring nearly every tune with a surf-guitar resonance and urgency.

Of course, the beauty of this particular mixture of musical ingredients is in the way those old, traditional melodies sound, kind of, like blues tunes, with their minor hue and their riff-like elements. The music has always felt natural and urgent, and when Shapiro lets his rich, rugged tone fly into improvisation, all bets are generally off. He is he kind of player who oozes feeling in every note, and having come up during the delirious Danceteria days of 1980s jazz-funk (before that kind of thing was semi-forbidden by the midtown NYC powers-that-be), every date is rich in juicy tone.

Shofarot Verses is no exception. The swaying backbeat of “In Phyrgia” will lock in you for sure, with a touch of Latin groove sitting beneath the melody. As Shapiro solos, he makes his tenor ramble and cry, fray at the edges and also sound like it has a little sheen of Texas too. Here, Ribot keeps things simple, playing a simple arpeggio figure in the background until its time to solo, at which point the bite kicks in. For a while, it’s almost a solo that a basic rock player might pull off, but then it develops into something else, with the harmony getting trickier and the feel deepening. All the while, Lewis is making it happen like crazy.

That formula holds sway on many tunes, but each one refracts these ingredients differently. “Search Your Soul” is a ballad tempo backbeat tune with a minor melody that Stanley Turrentine would have loved to sink his tenor saxophone teeth into. The drumming and recording, however, make this one sound less like sweet soul than like a grimy juke-joint tune, and Ribot’s guitar is Memphis slick on the ensembles and then dirty and blues-raw on his solo. “Get Me to the Shul on Time” has a melody more plainly from the Jewish tradition, set to a jumpy ‘50s-rock groove, again with Ribot coming out of the gates with a solo drenched in bite, like it was the very best thing on an early Elvis Presley record. When Jones and Lewis play quick duo, however, you’ll be sure the record isn’t rockabilly. “Surfing’ Salami”, well, I probably don’t have to tell you what happens when Dick Dale meets “Hava Nagila”. Finally, I adore “Halil”, which finds Shapiro on soprano sounding utterly like a more traditional horn—but with the fuzzed Ribot guitar matching his sound so beautifully that the two actually fuse into something new along the way. And the tune rocks with a Bo Diddley groove, which never made a piece of music less good.

A couple of themes here are traditional. Shapiro starts the record with unaccompanied alto saxoophone, a long and lush reading of a melody from the Yom Kippur service, but one that alternates between articulations that are traditional and ones that are pure jazz. Every second of it is riveting. “Ashamnu” is also a traditional tune, but it brings in not only the quartet playing a slow song but also cries on an actual ram’s horn (shofar). And darn if, in its stately spirituality, it doesn’t give you a little aural flash of Coltrane.

Maybe the most intense track on Shofarot Verses is “Daven Dance”, a simple two-chord vamp that allows the band to build intensity throughout. Shapiro gets to shout on his tenor, bassist Brad Jones literally shouts the tune’s title periodically, and then Ribot gets to go from cute to craggy in solo that feels like pure conjuring. It helps that Lewis plays the whole thing as though New Orleans were located somewhere in Eastern Europe, the groove of the American delta tied right back to some homeland or other. If one thing here tops it, that would be the closing track, “With Reed and Skins”, where Shapiro pulls out his most expressive techniques to duet with guest percussionist Adam Rudolph. Can you imagine Pharaoh Sanders climbing Mount Sinai to get a glimpse of the tablets? Soon you will.

Each time Paul Shapiro comes out with a new Tzadik take on his heritage, I wonder if the schtick will seem old. But it hasn’t happened yet. The pure energy of this band will carry you. The passion of the melodies was made for raw rocking’ and for the flights of improvised drama that jazz makes possible. Does that sound like one too many ingredients to work? Nope, it’s another gumbo that tastes like one thing: delicious.


Saxophonist Paul Shapiro (tenor, alto, soprano) has whipped up a neo-classic hunk of sax du noir. Shapiro plays with a big, robust tone recalling blues and jazz sax-demigods Houston Person, David “Fathead” Newman, and King Curtis (with a touch of Coltrane here ‘n’ there). Accompanied by bass, drums, and guitar (the great super-eclectic Marc Ribot), Shapiro evokes mystery movie by(Henry) Mancini soundtracks, a nightclub combo playing a strip joint on the wrong side of town, 1950s R&B, and surf-rock. One might think Shapiro is a musical jokester slinging frivolous sounds—not even close. The musicianship is aces high—it’s just that Shapiro and company want to show you a good time…mixing assorted genres with Hebraic/ Middle Eastern melodies and motifs for a swingin’ Passover seder that transcends all knowing. Ribot is his usual jagged, jolly self, playing riffs that could cut you if you got too close. If you need fun music driven by serious suss, this is it.

SUSAN FRANCES  Jazz with Soul
A compilation of well-formed narratives, Shofarot Verses from saxophonist Paul Shapiro converses with a bard’s instinct. His performance shows command of the sax, and his ability to share the spotlight with his fellow musicians whips up a tight rapport between them. Immensely proud of his Jewish heritage, Shapiro’s music wafts of party-imbued klezmer harnessing a gypsy flare fringed in the soulful properties of swinging bop. His recording is a vessel for modern jazz with an ethnic glimmer, drifting from such pensive odes to his Hasidic lineage as “Hashivenu” to the jubilant suite “Surfin’ Salami.” The melodic transitions are seamless, and the interpolation of the instruments musings is polished to a pristine sheen. Numbers like “Daven Dance” and “Get Me to the Shul on Time” will have audiences jumping in the aisles at concert halls. Both songs refer to prayer though they motivate the listener to let loose and move around freely. “In Phrygia” has a reggae groove in the undertow as Shapiro’s sax flutters liberally surging with fervor. The music is stimulating and affects listeners to think and feel positively. The swirling action furnished by acoustic bassist Brad Jones, guitarist Marc Ribot, and drummer Tony Lewis enhances the positive mood. Shapiro’s duet with drummer Adam Randolph on “With Reed and Skins” is a freestyle dialogue between the saxophone and drums stoking a swinging bop exchange that explores the diverse tonality and crispness of the two instruments. The somber texture of the sax grazes gently across “Hashivenu,” a melody inspired by the Yom Kippur service, then plunges into a surfing jazz fluster of “Get Me to the Shul on Time” reminiscent of the theme songs from the ‘60s TV show Batman. The soft furling twirls of the sax in “Search Your Soul” permeate a lounging feel and the sensual shimmies of “Halil” create a harem-type ambience which cruises into the contemplative mood of “Ashamnu,” translated to mean “gone astray.” Influences of Shapiro’s Jewish heritage are found throughout Shofarot Verses coalesced with portions of swinging bop, gypsy folk, and Middle Eastern dance. Shapiro’s offering is unique and integrates modern treatments with traditional klezmer motifs making for a complementing mix.

TIM NILAND- Music and More

Saxophonist Paul Shapiro (comic strip bio: cool) has made a lively career on the New York City "downtown" jazz scene playing with the likes of Steven Bernstein, The Microscopic Septet and a range of funk and rhythm and blues outfits. He brings all of those sensibilities together on this album and combines them with the music of his Jewish heritage to make this very successful album. In addition to Shapiro on tenor, alto and soprano saxophones in addition to shofar, the group features Marc Ribot on guitar, Brad Jones on bass, and Tony Lewis on drums. The music is full of life as demonstrated on  "Get Me to The Shul on Time" where slamming drums lead the saxophone in to create an exotic feel. Shapiro sets up a nice groove, and Ribot contributes a typically excellent grinding guitar before the rhythm section breaks loose for a funky bass and drums interlude. They all return to the original melody before completing the song. "Surfin' Salami" opens with some dark, guttural saxophone entering into a deep strong full band improvisation full of sly humor as the song's name would imply. Ribot has a great opportunity to craft a slinky, grinding guitar solo filled with down and dirty goodness before another excellent short bass and drums interlude takes us back to the top. "Search Your Soul" changes to the pace to a slower and deeper feel, perfect for Ribot to add a bluesy rhythm and blues sensibility to the proceedings. Shapiro really digs into a feeing of dark streets filled with late night longing and pathos. The shift back into a higher gear on "Halil" with an urgent opening of Shapiro on saxophone and the remainder of the group hot on his heels. The msuic comes in waves, rising and falling like the sea and totally in the moment with all of the players locked in together in a common cause. Sections for gritty guitar and drums bubble up before the group hints at the melody once more before signing off. Highly recommended.

DANIEL SCHEIDE- AJL Association of Jewish Libraries

Combining jazz and soul, surf and rock with traditional High Holiday music, Shofarot Verses is

pure fun. Saxophonist Paul Shapiro is joined by one of the founders of the Radical Jewish Culture

movement, guitarist Marc Ribot trading solos over the unfailing rhythm section of Brad Jones and Tony

Lewis. Shapiro occasionally doubles on shofar, but this seems almost like an afterthought. Particularly

noteworthy are readings of the traditional liturgical melodies, Ashamnu and Hashivenu. Buy it.

Daniel Scheide, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL

                 Shofarot Verses- Jazz Critic’s Poll

Background:  And it was on the third day, in the morning, there was thunder and lightning and a dense cloud over the mountain; there was a loud shofar blast, all the people in the camp trembled. The sound of the shofar grew louder and louder: Moses spoke and the eternal responded with a voice.  And the entire people saw the sounds and the flames and the sound of the shofar and the mountain afire, and the people saw and trembled and they stood from afar. The eternal was one with the sound of the Shofar, the voice of the eternal and the sound of the Shofar became one. Praise the eternal with the blast of the shofar; with lyre and harp; with drums and dance; with strings and reeds.  Praise the eternal with crashing cymbals; with clarion trumpets. Everything that has breath, praise the eternal.

The Shofarot Verses are the last of three sections of the Musaf (additional) service recited on Rosh Hashanah.

Adapted by Paul Shapiro from the High Holiday Prayer Book

Compiled and arranged by Rabbi Morris Silverman

United Synagogue of America, Prayer Book Press, 1951


HASHIVENU: Just alto. Starts with melody from Yom Kippur service Shema Kolaynu “hear our cry.”  Ends with Hashivenu, “turn us to you.”

GET ME TO THE SHUL ON TIME: It’s the misheberakh mode leaping off the subdominant.

SURFIN’ SALAMI: Get your wet suit on for a fiesty ride through Freigish waters. 

SEARCH YOUR SOUL: Finding solace in the House of B flat.

HALIL: The halil or reed pipe was a favorite instrument of ancient Israel.  The placement of its holes created a series of tones that became known as the Freigish scale. A very evocative instrument, biblically mentioned as conveying both great joy and deep sadness. The soprano is my halil.

ASHAMNU: Meaning “trespassed” or “gone astray,” the prayer Ashamnu is a list of confessions sung by the congregation on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Here I am the ba’al t’quia (master blaster) blowing through a ram’s horn.

DAVEN DANCE: Davening means praying, usually accompanied by swaying back and forth. This piece is active prayer, celebratory, ecstatic.

IN PHRYGIA: We hang out in Cuba and then jump to Phrygia, a ancient kingdom in present-day Turkey, for some distant intervals. “Freigish” was probably derived from the Phrygian mode.

WITH REED AND SKINS: A duet with Adam Rudolph, just reed and skins. Inspired by that morning at Sinai.

All music composed by Paul Shapiro, Sharp Eye Music, BMI except Tracks 1 and 6, trad. All music arranged by Paul Shapiro except track 4 arranged by Shapiro and Ribot.

Produced by Paul Shapiro

Executive Producer -- John Zorn

Associate Producer -- Kazunori Sugiyama

Mastered by Scott Hull

Photos -- Aaron Lee Fineman | Design- Heung-Heung Chin


Press contact: Jeff Newelt / JahFurry Communications @jahfurry

                      Shofarot Verses- Liner Notes