Brian Chase and Nigguns, You Make My Day

Since I started listening to music again, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have become the only band that I listen to. I mean that more seriously than is probably good for me. I’m writing a story that’s more moody and creepy and dark and slam-danceable than anything I’ve ever written, and their songs have a way of getting the exact second of a mood that I’m thinking of, harnessing it, and making it last long enough for me to write pages and pages without leaving the moment.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, in case you don’t know, are a trio. Karen O sings and doesn’t play anything. Nick Zinner does guitars and keyboards. And Brian Chase, the percussionist, basically does everything else. “Everything else” means drums, yes, but it also means that he’s the nervous and skeletal systems that fills up the music. Listen to this live version of “Y Control.” In the song’s intro, it basically sounds like a full orchestra is backing up Mr. Zinner. It’s not. It’s just one man and a boatload of drums.

Why am I telling you this? Partly so you’ll like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs as much as me. Or maybe so you’ll ridicule me that I’d never heard them before. Especially since I’ve been a huge fan of Mr. Chase’s other band, the Sway Machinery, for several years.

Or because I’m so excited about his new piece for the Farverts.

Jeremiah Lockwood, Mr. Chase’s partner in the Sway Machinery and MyJewishLearning hazzan, has started a nigun project with the Forward — he’s researching and collaborating on new versions of different traditional songs. The first entry, Rebbe Nachman’s Nigun, was a collaboration with Sahr Ngaujah, who stars in Broadway’s Fela!. This new song, he writes,

is based on a melody I found in a collection from just after the war that was commissioned by the Lubavitch Hasidim.

Go listen to the nigun now. You can keep track of the Niggun project over at the Forward. And don’t forget to check out Jeremiah’s projects with us right right here.


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