Review of my Bridge To Peace CD

by Mitch Gordon

Bridge to Peace is Cantor Lisa Levine’s newest CD release, and it is by far her best yet. Full disclosure, Lisa and I attended DLTI together and have collaborated in worship services and concerts together. Although I have enjoyed her music long before I met her, in my role as radio show host and producer, I have to say she hit a home run with this one.

With every CD Lisa takes us on a journey through her creative and Jewish process. Whether she is taking us to Cuba, Shabbat, or to a place of Peace, her music, musicians, choirs and arrangements lift us up. And Bridge to Peace doesn’t disappoint.

In Bridge to Peace, Lisa brings her own lyrics to liturgical and secular settings and the combination, along with her melodies, elevates the music and touches the soul. The first three tracks alone Pray for Peace, Bim Bam, and Bring Healing Down show off her versatility as a composer. Pray for Peace washes over the listener with a gentle arpeggiated piano under solo and choral voices that ebb and flow. Close your eyes and embrace the shefa – and feel the flow while the gentle beat keeps you grounded. Bim Bam is one of those catchy tunes that is ready for Tot Shabbat or any Shabbat service. Its fun and easy and it just feels good to sway and sing. Then Lisa brings out the African American spiritual in her and gives us the gift of Bring Healing Down. It is clearly homage to that soulful rooted true Americana of the spiritual…the lyrics are simple and practical…not a lot of wasted words. And the melody brings us back to the sixties when we marched and had causes to fight for. Maybe Lisa is reminding us that we need to keep praying, keep believing, and keep on going even when it gets tough to do so.

Lisa reaches out without any apology to bring new life and ideas to several liturgical settings. Esau Enai, Oseh Shalom and Shalom Rav each get her insight and creativity. While not every new version of a liturgical setting ends up as a mainstay in a Shabbat service, I think her Oseh Shalom here can hold its own with the best of them. She brings a rhythmical niggun inspired by African drumming and chant to a setting that brings us all together in “Peace, Salaam, and Shalom.”

This CD is produced by Sam Glaser and his skills and musicality shine through in the arrangements and the whole tone of the CD. From top to bottom every track is new idea and a loving way into your heart and soul. All in all I love this CD and invite you to take a journey with Cantor Lisa Levine and cross that Bridge to Peace!

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Mitch Gordon
Holy Drummer
Producer/host of Shirim, Jewish Music and More, on WCUW 91.3 FM Worcester, MA and streaming live
at www.wcuw.org Sunday nights 8-10pm eastern time.