University of Michigan Frankel Institute Symposium, Sephardic Identities, provided an opportunity for me to gather a dream team of musicians. My area is full of talent and it was an honor to bring together Sean Blackman on Guitar, Victor Ghannam on Oud and Kanun (snazzy electric oud in video), and Michael Shimmin on Percussion, joined by my regular accompanist, Stefan Kukurugya, to perform with me on pieces from corners of the Sephardic world. It was ironic that this event, and another later in the week, coincide with the anniversary week of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain's announcement of their Edict of Explusion of the Jews, and of Columbus upcoming journey. It was an honor to have this kind of musical dream team for this music, at this significant time.
Sean has made world music his life's work. Name a country and he can tell you who people there consider to be their Frank Sinatra or their Lady Gaga. I met Victor when he played at an event at our local Sephardic Synagogue, Keter Torah. He also plays with Michigan's National Arab Orchestra. I met Michael years ago when he was playing for Red Sea Pedestrians. And the ever-versatile Stefan Kukurugya brought his long time knowledge of my work to the group. I am grateful to be able to work with these people of exceptional skill and artistry.